I Self-Healed My IBS
By Emily Price
If you’ve received a diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), I empathize. I was diagnosed with IBS in 2007, after a series of emergency room visits, a laundry list of symptoms and a huge amount of physical pain. The diagnosis is challenging, because it is not very specific – IBS can describe a variety of symptom combinations and conditions.
I fully healed my own IBS by overhauling my diet and lifestyle. A combination of stress and a poor diet made me sick and by simply changing some things, such as the way I ate, thought and moved, I was able to heal.
Today, I live symptom-free and so can you, simply by experimenting with new foods and practices and seeing how they work for you, until you find the right fit for your body and mind.
Here are five of the top foods that I incorporated to help me and why they could possibly work for you too!
Turmeric is a spice that has been used in the ayurvedic system of healing for centuries. Recent scientific studies have proven turmeric to be strongly anti-inflammatory. IBS is an inflammatory condition, so the use of anti-inflammatory foods and spices has the potential to dramatically reduce symptoms.
Turmeric contains curcumin, an active compound that, when fed to rats in a study at the University of California at Los Angeles, blocked the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in their brains – the abnormality associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Curcumin appears to reduce inflammation related to Alzheimer’s disease in neural tissue and to have broad anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects as well.
Many people have read about the benefits of turmeric and sprinkle it onto their food raw, but Ayurveda advises that this spice must actually be cooked in order to access its healing properties. There is a lot that we can learn from this ancient natural health system that has been in use for so many years, so heat up your turmeric by adding it your cooking, or simply make a nightly turmeric tea:
Nightly Turmeric Tea
- 1 tsp organic turmeric
- 3 cups hot water
- Lemon or local, organic honey to taste
- Ginger to taste, optional
- Pour hot water over turmeric and drink as a nightly tea to soothe digestion.
- Add additional ingredients to taste.
The most delicious part of this list! If you haven’t made friends with the papaya yet, do it today! This jewel of a fruit contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Combined with vitamin C and E, which papaya also contains, papain reduces inflammation (and even helps with other forms of heat, such as burns).
Papaya is delicious in its whole form, eaten simply by slicing a soft, ripe papaya in half and scooping out the insides with a spoon. You can also make a papaya batido (or a papaya smoothie) like this:
- One small papaya
- 4 cups water
- Ripe banana or pineapple (optional)
- Blend one small papaya, peeled, seeded and diced, with 4 cups of water (start with less and add until desired consistency is reached).
- If you like your smoothies a little sweeter, add a ripe banana, or sometimes pineapple (which will boost the effects of papaya, since it contains bromelain).
Pro-tip: The seeds of the papaya taste totally different than the fruit (they are peppery!), but they are used to aid digestion in the native areas where papaya are grown. Instead of throwing the seeds away, take a spoonful of them and swallow them with water (as you would a supplement). The seeds will slide through your digestive tract and essentially act as a strong fiber to cleanse and pull out toxins and stuck food.
Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease due to their high fiber content, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains, which give the beet its sparkling bright red color (which also lets you know they are extremely high in antioxidants! Look for natural bright colors and eat them to get your antioxidants in).
Add half a beet to your daily juice to get the benefit of these anti-inflammatory betalains (beets are powerful, so a small amount is highly beneficial). They will naturally sweeten your juice, too.
To get the additional digestive benefits of their fiber and folates (and more complete bowel movements), eat your beets whole. They are delicious raw or cooked. Add some raw chopped beets to your salad, or roast some sliced and seasoned beets along with other root veggies like sweet potato and parsnip for a grounding and nourishing meal.
4. Aloe Juice
The discovery of aloe juice was a life-saver for me during the early days of my IBS diagnosis. When I felt sharp abdominal pain, I would go to the fridge and pour a small amount of raw, organic, whole leaf aloe vera juice (no more than 2-4 oz, since it can be strongly diuretic and when overused can cause diarrhea, so use sparingly).
The many benefits of aloe vera are well known, since it contains compounds that heal and soothe the skin when used externally. A review published in the “British Journal of General Practice“ shared that it may have similar benefits internally, impacting the lining of the digestive tract, when taken as a drink.
Aloe vera soothes irritation, as well as aids in the healing and repair of ulcers in the stomach and intestines. Aloe vera juice decreases inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other inflammatory disorders of the gut. It can even increase healthy bacteria in the intestines that aid digestion.
How to use aloe vera juice:
Buy an organic, raw, whole leaf aloe vera juice at your local health food store and start with two ounces, taken one hour after your largest meal of the day. You can work up to four ounces taken morning and night, after seeing how your body responds to the protocol.
5. Water With Fresh Lemon Juice
Hydration is a major factor in digestion that is overlooked. Dehydration leads to constipation and accumulation of toxins in the gut. By drinking enough water, you help every aspect of your physiology to function optimally.
A liter of warm water with lemon is an ideal way to start the day, helping you get your blood pressure up to a normal level after a long night’s rest and flushing your system as you start a new day. This can be a huge help in letting go of daily caffeine, since it will boost your energy levels and make a great morning drink.
Citrus flavonoids contained in lemon are the main factor that make it a digestive aid. Citrus flavonoids act as a great digestive tonic and have been shown to calm an upset stomach or mild indigestion since they support the hydrochloric acid in the stomach that works to break down food.
Try starting your day with lemon water and let us know some of the improvements you see!
How to use lemon water:
Upon waking, squeeze the juice of one half of an organic lemon into one liter of water. Drink full amount. Squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon into another liter and sip throughout the day.
Reducing or eliminating your symptoms of IBS is a process that takes some time and experimentation. But I know it’s possible to relieve yourself of this often debilitating condition and live a happy, symptom-free life through the use of dietary changes and stress-reduction practices. The use of these foods is a great start!
Good luck and let us know how these foods have helped you in the comments.
Emily Price is a Certified Health Coach who uses the tools of guided self-exploration, nutrition and intuitive guidance to help women more deeply love themselves and their body. She received her training through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
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