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Got tummy problems? It might be irritable bowel syndrome.

Wall_Food_10377The holidays are now over and many may be feeling the aftermath of happy overindulgence.  Often the ingestion of many great tasting foods during celebratory times only leaves us later on feeling guilty, bloated, tired, and uncomfortable.  Sometimes, though, these few symptoms are a part of other symptoms that have been going on for a long time and are ignored, denied exist, or are on a plan to make better decisions about one’s diet sometime soon.

If you experience some of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing irritable bowel syndrome:  abdominal pain, altered bowel function such as diarrhea or constipation that is daily or intermittent, flatulence, nausea, bloating, abdominal distention, anxiety, or depression.  Other symptoms connected to the condition of irritable bowel syndrome are fibromyalgia, sexual dysfunction, urinary frequency and/or urgency, poor sleep or insomnia, headaches, lower back pain, and chronic fatigue, to name a few.
It is important to pay attention to these symptoms and seek understanding about what you can do to heal your gut.  Our stomach begins the breakdown of the foods we eat and sends it into the small intestine where absorption of vital nutrients occurs that are then sent out to all the cells of our bodies.  Any leftovers are then moved along to the large intestine to eventually be eliminated.

Many factors exist that contribute to irritable bowel syndrome.  The good news is that many of these factors can be addressed and healing of intestinal cell walls can occur.  It is important to look at food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies.  These conditions incite inflammatory responses by the immune system that in turn can signal the brain to send out pain chemicals.

Many tests can be taken to discover if there exist such sensitivities, especially to wheat (gluten) or dairy.  Many allergies arise from peanuts, corn, strawberries, various grains, lactose in milk products, and of course high sugar consumption that can lead to insulin release challenges potentially manifesting as diabetes.  High sugar consumption slows down motility in the intestines that can lead to feelings of bloating and potential intestinal blockage.

Dietary intervention includes, first of all, eliminating problem foods.  Increase fiber containing foods mainly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and if not allergic, to grains, beans, and legumes.  Reduce any consumption of highly processed foods and fake foods as these contribute to inflammation in the body (an underlying cause of many illnesses).

It is important as well to restore good intestinal bacteria, and this can be accomplished by taking a good probiotic, a product stating it has billions and billions of live bacteria.  We want this good bacteria in our gut.  Choose lactobacillus and bifidobacteria products.  Good ones are usually in the refrigerator case at the health food store because they are live cultures.
If you find you need to be tested for allergies, the ELISA test is one of the best as it identifies immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reactions by our immunoglobulins (immune system warrior cells).  Ask your health care provider to order this test for you if you need clarity on your sensitivities.
Krystle Shapiro, MSHN owns NewTritionally Yours! providing nutrition education classes.  Contact her for information about upcoming classes.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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