What are “practitioner-only-products”?

Vitality

It can be confusing. Some “practitioner-only” brands are only available through qualified health care practitioners. Others are more easily available.

The idea behind the “practitioner-only” designation is simple. The majority of “practitioner-only” brands focus on producing higher quality, more potent products. Such products are manufactured to maximise impact and effectiveness, and therefore should only be accessed under the supervision of a qualified health professional.

Naturopaths and nutritionists for example, are trained in herbs and nutrients. They understand how the ingredients will affect you. Taking advice from a health professional on what products to take ensures safety risks are minimised and products are appropriate for your individual health needs.

This is not to say all “retail” products are inferior.

 

Quality

What does this mean? Practitioner products are generally of a higher quality, and more potent, but how is this defined? Within both the broad retail and “practitioner only” categories, quality can vary significantly due to many factors including active ingredients, encapsulation, dosage, molecular weight, excipients used, conditions a plant is cultivated in and supporting evidence (1). To keep things simple we’re going to focus on 3 key areas:

  • Ingredients
  • Bioavailability
  • Excipients

 

Ingredients 

Along with the importance of co-factors and ingredients being at a therapeutic dose, mineral absorption and bioavailability may be enhanced by the form the mineral comes in. Chelated minerals are minerals bound to a chelating agent which is designed to enhance their absorption in your body. An amino acid chelated mineral is a mineral (like calcium) that has been molecularly attached to an amino acid. Common amino acids used to make mineral chelates include aspartic acid, lysine and glycine. In general, animal studies indicate that chelated minerals are absorbed more effectively (2).

 

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is influenced by many factors from both the host (human) and from the supplement itself. Bioavailability refers to how efficiently your body can use a nutrient.  The commonly accepted definition of bioavailability is the proportion of the nutrient that is digested, absorbed and metabolised through normal pathways.

It has also long been recognised that gut microbes contribute to the biosynthesis and bioavailability of vitamins and nutrients.  Maintaining a healthy gut is vitally important for proper nutrient synthesis and absorption as the gut microbiota synthesises certain vitamins and nutrients (1).

Bioavailability is also influenced by other factors including diet, nutrient concentration, nutritional status, health, and life-stage (3).

 

Excipients

Excipients selected for product formulation vary across the pharmaceutical and complementary medicine industries. The role of the excipient should not be underestimated, particularly when it comes to generic pharmaceuticals. A number of pharmaceutical excipients are known to have side effects or contraindications. For example, excipients may make up to 90% of a product formulation and may be synthetic or sourced from plants or animals (4).

Depending on the medication/supplement type, excipients may be nil to low. Powders and capsules generally require fewer excipients than tablets due to binding and coating ingredients required for a tablet.

Each excipient serves a specific purpose for the proper performance of the supplement dose and form, i.e. capsule, tablet, powder or liquid.

 

Effectiveness and accessibility 

As practitioner products are generally more potent, this lends itself to supervised use under the instruction of a qualified health professional. As such, practitioner only products are not as accessible to the general public. Indeed practitioner only products are designed specifically for dispensing by a healthcare professional in accordance with section 42AA of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (5).

 

How can I access “practitioner only products”? 

If you are not currently working with a healthcare professional, you can find a practitioner here via vital.ly platform.

 

References

1Pressman P, Clemens RA, Hayes AW. Bioavailability of micronutrients obtained from supplements and food: A survey and case study of the polyphenols. Toxicology Research and Application. January 2017.
2Goff JP. Invited review: Mineral absorption mechanisms, mineral interactions that affect acid-base and antioxidant status, and diet considerations to improve mineral status. J Dairy Sci. 2018 Apr;101(4):2763-2813. doi: 10.3168/jds.2017-13112. Epub 2018 Feb 4.
3Michael, Hambidge. (2010). Micronutrient Bioavailability: Dietary Reference Intakes and a Future Perspective. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 91. 1430S-1432S. 10.3945/ajcn.2010.28674B.
4Haywood, A., & Glass, B. (2011). Pharmaceutical excipients – where do we begin? Australian Prescriber, 34(4), 112–114.
5Australian Government. Department of Health. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Australian regulatory guidelines for complementary medicines ARGCM. Version 7.2, February 2018.[Internet] [ cited 2021. September 12th]. Available from:https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/australian-regulatory-guidelines-complementary-medicines-argcm.pdf

 

25 Stressors that Contribute to Midlife Weight Gain

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Lately, life has become more stressful than usual. I feel it and I imagine you feel it too. There’s more fear, more disruption, more restrictions. All of this adds to our mental stress and wears us down.

But pressures and mental stresses aren’t the only stressors on the body. Here is a list of many more than increase your stress load and therefore contribute to weight gain.

Reducing your stressors and improving your capacity to deal with them is the key to optimal health.

CauseHow it may contribute to being overweight
Eating too many calories and not enough nutrientsAlways hungry, nutrient deficiencies may lead to disease, diabetes
Preservatives, artificial coloursAdd to the load on the liver
Pesticides, metals and other poisonsCan damage cells, can kill gut flora
Artificial sweetenersLong term weight gain, carb craving and MS-like symptoms
Thinking negative thoughtsIncreases cortisol levels
Putting up with being unhappyFrustration & resentment which may elevate blood pressure or stress the liver
BoredomCan lead to overeating
Unresolved anger, grief, hurtBody tension which affects circulation to that area. Can cause emotional eating
Unexpressed joy, happiness and appreciationEmotions become negative and fester within us.
White flourRaised blood sugar and insulin.  Produces inflammation, causes cell damage
White sugarRaised blood sugar and insulin.  Produces inflammation, causes cell damage
Trans, hydrogenated and oxidized fatsRaised blood sugar and insulin.  Produces inflammation, causes cell damage
AlcoholPoisonous to the liver, increases requirement for nutrients
CaffeineLeaches nutrients from the body, stimulates adrenalin causing fatigue
Eating too oftenIncreased inflammation
Eating too late at nightAffects sleep and reduces the rejuvenation of the night
Eating huge quantities of foodRequires more digestive enzymes than your gut can make.  Overloads all systems.
MedicationsToxic to the liver
Smoking, recreational drugsIncreases heavy metal load and contains other chemicals that can overload the liver
Poor quality supplementsWaste of money
Misguided ambitionRaises adrenalin and cortisol levels, increases inflammation, can raise blood pressure and risk of stroke
JealousyMakes us irrational and the victim in our own story of life
Self-hateLeads to self-destructive behaviours like smoking and binge eating
Allergies & intoleranceCan create cravings, increases inflammation
Poor liver and bowel detoxificationCauses unhealthy blood which has multiple flow on affects that can be detrimental to our health and weight, not to mention cancer.

Have a chat with your naturopath to find out how you can take charge of your stress and restore your body to calm and optimal weight.

5 ways to Reduce Anxiety Symptoms

Woman stretching

Recent studies uphold anxiety as a rapidly leading contributor to global health afflictions with up to 20% of adults affected yearly. (Salari et al 2020, Munir et al 2022)  In addition, studies during and post the Covid-19 global Pandemic demonstrated a further increase of anxiety disorders globally by 25·6%. (Lancet 2021).  The Impact on women is customarily twice as much as men. (Craske et al).  With statistics of this calibre, it is essential interventions for both prevention and maintenance of this condition be addressed and applied.

Anxiety is a mechanistic reaction on a neuro physiological level in response to an event that is either real or perceived. Anxiety presents as a future-adapted mood reaction in anticipation of circumstances that may or may not occur.  (Chand 2022). The amygdala, a part of the brain associated with the fight or flight response, plays a vital role in modulating anxiety. (Chand 2022) Therefore treatment regimes necessitate the focus on stress adaptation, which is shown to provoke or exacerbate chronic disease states via direct association with the central nervous system (CNS). (Yaribeygi et al 2017)

Anxiety may present in a singular or multitude of symptoms inclusive of agitation, distress, fatigued, loss of focus, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, heart palpatations and sweaty palms. (Munir et al 2022, Iani et al 2019)

The causes of stress are variable and may include: Stress, comorbidities, environmental factors (childhood or other traumas) , or drug/ substance abuse and / or eating disorders. (Munir et al 2022)

Comorbidities (secondary conditions) alongside anxiety are common, and invariably anxiety goes hand in hand with depression. (Koyuncu 2019) Other studies demonstrate an interplay with mental health disorders and diabetes, migraines, alcohol use, dementia and other contributors of poor health. (Prince et al 2007)

 

What actions can you take to reduce your symptoms and alleviate triggers?

  1. Reduce Stress:

Stress Plays havoc on your life, mental health & ability to cope.

Firstly identify what stressors you have in your life and try to eliminate or reduce the stressors.  Stressors may include people events, lack of sleep, work environments, never taking time out or being in nature.

Ways to reduce stress include: Yoga, Meditation, breathwork, chanting, warm baths, massages, reflexology, journalling, having good emotional support from friends, family & community rest & good quality sleep  There is no one size fits all.  Researcher Lara Boyd (TEDx Vancouver 2015) demonstrated that “our brain is constantly being shaped by what we do, encounter and experience” and through consistent practice of some of the above we can change our conditioning.

  1. Improve Nutrient Density. Diet is the control switch for health, as well as the gut- brain connection. Make sure you have a whole foods diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and good quality sources of lean protein. Eat more grounding foods like root vegetables, which from an Ayurvedic perspective will help to ground your energy. A Naturopathic Physician or Nutritionist will be able to construct a good plan to make sure you have the precise nutrients needed for stress reduction and to stimulate and produce the feel good hormones to support your mood.
  2. Improve Gut function  – Due to the Gut brain Axis we have afferent and efferent nerves extending from the gut to the brain and the brain to the gut.  Improving gut function is often a major step in improving mood.  A trained therapist can assist you in identifying any gut issues and working with you to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients which will lead to optimal health, reduced oxidative stress and improved mood and overall coping mechanisms.
  3. Engage in Neuro plasticity Interventions – including: Kinesiology, Neuro Emotional Technique (NET).  Western scientific research shows promise in understanding and accepting more that medical illnesses are linked to diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.  Physical interventions are often not enough to create a holistic recovery in any disease.  Both techniques (Kinesiology & NET) have shown to be effective in uncovering subconscious conditioned patterns (through muscle testing) that may lead to further anxiety or stress if left unresolved. The foundation of these interventions is the concept that latent, unresolved trauma / events (known as Neuro Emotional Complexes (NEC’s) – whether real or perceived) determine our physiology, conditioning and emotional reality.  By resolving these NEC’s compared to placebo, research shows notable clinical and statistical biomarkers, as well as an enhanced quality of life. (Bablis Et al 2022)
  4. Exercise Daily – Exercise is an applicable intervention for anxiety management. In particular, exercise programmes of high intensity were discovered to offer more substantial results. (Aylett et al 2018). Therefore consider hot yoga and other high impact regimes. Your therapist can help guide you when working out your treatment plan.

 

If you suffer from Anxiety or any of the associated symptomatic responses

It is recommended to work with a therapist who uses an integrative approach addressing the physical, physiological, mental and emotional components of health.  Importantly to note, it’s not having the knowledge of what to do that matters, its taking consistent daily action that creates sustainable change. Take action now and begin working towards the empowerment of propelling your life forward. It is your birthright!

 

References:

  1. Salari, N., Hosseinian-Far, A., Jalali, R. et al. Prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Global Health 16, 57 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00589-w
  2. Munir S, Takov V. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jan 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441870/
  3. Global prevalence and burden of depressive and anxiety disorders in 204 countries and territories in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, Vol 398 (2021). doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(21)02143-7
  4. Chand SP, Marwaha R. Anxiety. [Updated 2022 Feb 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470361/
  5. Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal, 16, 1057–1072. https://doi.org/10.17179/excli2017-480
  6. Iani L, Quinto RM, Lauriola M, Crosta ML, Pozzi G (2019) Psychological well-being and distress in patients with generalized anxiety disorder: The roles of positive and negative functioning. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0225646. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225646
  7. Koyuncu, A., İnce, E., Ertekin, E., & Tükel, R. (2019). Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs in context, 8, 212573. https://doi.org/10.7573/dic.212573
  8. Boyd L. Neuroplasticity: Source TEDxVancouver, 2015, Dec 16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNHBMFCzznE
  9. Bablis P, Pollard H, Rosner AL. Stress reduction via neuro-emotional technique to achieve the simultaneous resolution of chronic low back pain with multiple inflammatory and biobehavioural indicators: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. J Integr Med. 2022 Mar;20(2):135-144. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2021.12.001. Epub 2021 Dec 3. PMID: 34924332.
  10. Aylett, E., Small, N., & Bower, P. (2018). Exercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice – a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC health services research, 18(1), 559. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3313-5

Alcohol and your Gut

Woman with hands in the shape of a heart in front of her stomach

Yes, I am about to talk about the big elephant in the room … what alcohol can do to your gut health!!

It is truly funny how we have such a different mindset to what alcohol does in our body versus anything else we eat or drink. It is like it has the special invisibility cloak in our body!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Now I love a glass of wine (a Central Otago Pinot Noir is one of my favourite!!) but that doesn’t mean I should be blind to what too much festive “cheer” can do to my gut.

WHAT ALCOHOL IS DOING TO YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

When we drink alcohol it does more than make us tipsy, it can actually have a huge impact on how our whole digestive system works even when we aren’t having a drink.

Before the alcohol you drink even enters your liver it is absorbed by your upper intestinal tract. Whilst the liver does most of the work if you are just a social drinker (2 standard drinks), if you are drinking larger quantities, or drinking more often, the bacteria in your gut actually helps you metabolise the alcohol too.

Too much alcohol can also inhibit the production of digestive enzymes which means that it can have a real impact on your ability to breakdown food ongoing – this can leave you with that bloated feeling, not being able to absorb all of your nutrients well and symptoms such as reflux and indigestion.

CHANGES TO THE ENVIRONMENT

If you’ve ever been to a kids party you can see the destruction that can be left behind by seemingly innocent 5 year olds – the same happens in your gut when you drink alcohol (think of those drinks as crazy toddlers about to cause havoc on your digestive system!).

Alcohol changes the composition of your gut bacteria, how your gut functions as well as increasing it’s intestinal permeability (leaky gut).

So what does this all mean?

  • More inflammation in your gut and the rest of your body

  • Impaired immune system (70-80% of your immune cells are in your gut)

  • An impact on your mood through the Gut-Brain Axis (90% of serotonin if produced in your gut)

There is now also discussion around something called the Gut-Liver Axis. When we are drinking in excess this inflammation in our gut can then increase the inflammation and damage in our liver. looking after both goes hand in hand.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR GUT WHEN DRINKING

The reality is we are going to enjoy a drink every now and then, so what can you to help look after your gut? Here are a few tips for you:

  • Have some slippery elm powder before hand and before bed – this will help protect your gut lining. Add 1 teaspoon to a cup or glass, add a little bit of water to make a paste (otherwise you will get floaties!), then top with 150-200ml of water, mix until combined and drink. Please do not have slippery elm powder near medication as it may reduce absorption.

  • Don’t use alcohol to quench your thirst, make sure you’ve had enough water before you have an alcoholic drink, enjoy it and drink responsibly

  • Alternate between a glass of water and an alcoholic drink

  • I have read people say to enjoy kombucha in between but from anecdotal evidence it has seemed to increase the absorption of the alcohol in some people (hence getting you drunk faster) so please be careful with this

  • Make sure you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach, have a balanced meal beforehand

  • Be mindful of your food choices “the day after the night before”, this can be tricky when all you might be craving is something greasy, however do your best to get some easy to digest nourishing foods into your body

  • Have some roasted dandelion tea to help support your digestive system and liver the day after, you get this just from the supermarket

  • If your tummy is really upset consider something like Iberogast to have on hand for a few days

  • Bone broth is also something you can sip on to help soothe and settle your tummy

  • Consider adding a probiotic into your routine over the festive season to help keep things in balance

  • Up your antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries, dark chocolate, kale, cabbage, beans and beetroot. Really just think about lots of colour on your plate!

It really is about being aware of what we are putting into our bodies. I am not saying to not enjoy that drink with friends however, if we give both our gut and what we put in it the respect that they deserve (our gut health for how it impacts the rest of our body, and alcohol for how destructive it can be) it helps us make the best decisions to support our overall health and wellbeing all the time.

I will also be running 2 webinars for Natural Medicine Week. Register to get your ticket to these events now!

Good Gut Health is more than your poop

Constipation 101 

Wanting to find out how happy your gut is at the moment? Head here to do my Gut Health Quiz.

Bishehsari, F., Magno, E., Swanson, G., Desai, V., Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., & Keshavarzian, A. (2017). Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation. Alcohol research : current reviews, 38(2), 163–171.

Konturek, P. C., Harsch, I. A., Konturek, K., Schink, M., Konturek, T., Neurath, M. F., & Zopf, Y. (2018). Gut⁻Liver Axis: How Do Gut Bacteria Influence the Liver?. Medical sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 6(3), 79. https://doi.org/10.3390/medsci6030079

Meroni, M., Longo, M., & Dongiovanni, P. (2019). Alcohol or Gut Microbiota: Who Is the Guilty?. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(18), 4568. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20184568

Zakhari S. (2006). Overview: how is alcohol metabolized by the body?. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 29(4), 245–254.

Six Tips to Manage Stress

Lady sitting at desk holding head with pained look on her face

Every single day, every person who walks into my clinic has one thing in common: STRESS.

Before I talk about how to work on stress management I must define what I mean when I say stress.

When I talk to clients in my clinic there are some people who show unmistakable signs of stress but they say “I don’t feel stressed”.

Stress is everyday life.
Stress is not taking time to slow down, unwind and breathe life in.

I think stress is one of those terms that are misinterpreted. We almost need a new word to define what stress actually is.

It’s easier to explain stress when I ask people

“Tell me what you do to relax?”

Often met with a blank expression as they say “uuummm watch TV?”
This is when they realise that they don’t actually do anything to send their body the message ‘hey body, everything is OK. We have time to stop and relax and enjoy life and be well’.

I’m not joking. We actually need to give our bodies this message.

How can you take your body off high alert if you’re never flicking the off switch? Watching TV is mind numbing (and sometimes stressful depending on what you watch), not stress relieving.

What can you do to manage your stress levels?

1. SELF NOURISHMENT

Do something to nourish your soul. Take a bath (preferably with low lighting, candles, no interruptions and some yummy smelling salts or bubble bath to enhance the experience), do some yoga (you can attend a class or do it at home with a DVD or by finding a video or app on your computer or ipad. I use Yoga Studio), listen to relaxing music, go for a massage, pick up a hobby, meditate or go and sit in a park or by the beach and chill out.

2. BREATHE DEEPLY (INTO YOUR STOMACH).

So many people are programmed to breathe shallow only using the top of their lungs.

Check in with your body right now.

What happens when you take a breath in?

Do your shoulders lift up?
Does your stomach move inwards or out?

If your shoulders are going up and your belly moving in, we need to talk! This is shallow breathing.

Now put your hand on your belly and when you breathe in, think about the air filling your belly. You should find that your belly now moves out and your shoulders don’t really seem to move.
This is what we want.

Set a reminder in your phone or stick a post-it note on your computer screen and remind yourself to check in with your breathing a few times every day. Spend a couple of minutes focusing on nice deep belly breaths.

3. SPEND SOME TIME BEFORE BED UNWINDING.

I think a lot of people only sleep because they know they have to and they don’t realise that sleep is the time that your body does its repair and restoration. We don’t want to go into the land of slumber feeling wound up or feeling like a zombie.
Power down your TV, computer, ipad etc and spend some time doing your deep breathing, meditation, affirmations or journalling.
The main part of this tip is mindfulness. Being mindful about winding down and preparing for a restful sleep.

4. GO ON HOLIDAY OR GET AWAY FOR A WEEKEND.

Get out of your everyday life, get away from work, get away from needy friends, get away from nagging parents, get away from housework and the mundane chores of the everyday. There is a reason your employer has to give you annual leave. Because it’s super important to your mental and physical health! What better way to give your body the signal to relax and switch off high alert than lying in a hammock and enjoying life. Just do it.

5. INVEST IN SOME YUMMY HERBAL TEAS, A TEAPOT AND A NICE TEACUP.

Herbal teas are a traditional way of taking herbal medicine. There are some lovely herbal teas around that contain herbs traditionally used for stress relief. Look for blends that include lavender, passionflower, withania, lemon balm, or chamomile. These blends are designed for stress: TeaStress for winding down and calming, Adrenalade for reinvigorating and restoring.
But this is not just about the herbs in your tea. This is more about ritual and slowing down. Taking the time to boil the kettle, dispense your loose leaf tea, brew the tea and pour out cup after cup is another way to be mindful and send the “we’re not stressed” signal to your body

6. GO AND SEE A QUALIFIED NATUROPATH OR HERBALIST.

We have the best herbs to help tonify and restore the adrenals and nervous system. There are so many of these herbs that it would be impossible to pick the right ones by yourself. An expert (read: trained and accredited practitioner) will be able to choose the most suitable herbs and nutrients for your current state of health.

A trained naturopath or herbalist will also know if it will be best to use the herbs in liquid, capsule, tablet or powder form. Sometimes in stressed patients, their digestive system has stopped functioning properly so I find liquid herbs to be the most efficient method of dosing until their gut function improves.

STRESS LESS FOR BETTER HEALTH

You can see from the above 6 tips that stress often comes from a lack of slowing down and a lack of mindfulness. By taking thoughtful steps to be kind to ourselves we can greatly improve many aspects of our health and manage our stress in a more balanced way.

Six ways to Improve your IBS Symptoms

gut health

As many as 1 in 5 Australian’s will at one stage in their life suffer from IBS and did you know it is more prevalent in women!

There can be many symptoms from abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, urgency and changed bowel habits. There are 3 types of IBS, you can have IBC-C (constipation), IBS-D (diarrhoea) and IBS-M (both constipation and diarrhoea).

 

What are some key drivers of IBS?

Stress – have you ever felt ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or felt nervous before speaking in public or worried there are no toilets close by and that it has sent you searching for the loo? That is due to your mind-gut connection or gut-brain axis. This bidirectional link is between your central nervous system (CNS), your enteric nervous system (ENS), hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and let’s not forget your gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome sends signals through your vagus nerve (the longest nerve in the body connecting your brain to your gut) to your brain and vice versa. It has been shown that individuals with higher stress are more likely to experience IBS from a dysregulated gut-brain axis.

Gut bacteria disruption – dysbiosis (an imbalance in the types and levels of gut bacteria) as well as small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) are very common in IBS patients. These can lead to systemic inflammation, immune activation, altering the intestinal barrier function, changing your gut bacteria. These bad bugs can over ferment fibre resulting in pain and excessive gas. This is due to the reduction of beneficial bacteria that help breakdown fibre and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which help to reduce inflammation.

Gut Inflammation – inflammation of the gut barrier can increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and lead to immune activation. This inflammation on the gut lining can increase pain sensitivity (abdominal pain) and slow or accelerate your gut motility.

Post-Infection –a previous gastric infection can increase the risk IBS. Infections such as Salmonella may increase intestinal inflammation, leading to an increase in leaky gut and changing the gut bacteria.

Intolerance to FODMAP’s – FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are types of fibre that gut bacteria ferment naturally and help to support a healthy gut environment by feeding beneficial bacteria. What happens to people with IBS is the overgrowth of bad bacteria over-ferment the FODMAP containing foods leading to pain and flatulence. Limiting high FODMAP foods, doing the re-introduction stage and identifying your food triggers with the support of a naturopath or nutritionist can help alleviate IBS symptoms. This does not work for all IBS patients and is only a short-term strategy while your practitioner works with you to holistically treat the underlying causes of your IBS.

 

What actions can you take to help your IBS symptoms?
  1. Reduce stress –

By trying to identify triggers and make sure you are getting quality sleep. Keep a journal to note how your feelings may trigger you to run to the toilet or give you that butterfly feeling.

Look at toning your vagus nerve, some strategies include – having cold showers, humming or chanting, gargling, yoga, meditation. Regular exercise is also important to reduce the physical symptoms of stress.

  1. Low FODMAP diet –

work with a health care practitioner to see if a low FODMAP diet will help you and your IBS symptoms. This is not a long-term approach, as it can have a negative impact of your microbiome when cutting out complete food groups. Your practitioner will work with your underlying causes and improve your gut health and therefore be able to re-introduce the FODMAP maps that may be an issue for you.

  1. Reduce Inflammation –

Through diet, eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, oily small wild caught fish, drinking plenty of water, avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine intake.

  1. Remove dysbiosis (bad bugs) –

Your practitioner can do stool analysis through different test to work out what bacteria you have and what are they doing, that way they can work out the best plan of attack!

  1. Repopulate your gut with good bacteria

Probiotics have been shown to be very effective in reducing symptoms if IBS.

  1. plantarum 299v is a specific probiotic strain with an anti-inflammatory action and has been shown to reduce abdominal pain, frequency, flatulence, bloating and diarrhoea. In one clinical study, 221 IBS patients taking 10 billion colony forming units (CFU) had a reduction in these symptoms after 4 weeks.

It is important to take a strain specific probiotic and not just any one off the shelf, and when you work with a practitioner, they will determine the right probiotic for you as well as dosage and duration.

  1. Feed your good bacteria –

Prebiotics help to feed your good gut bugs and help them to thrive. Your microbes in your gut help to digest fibre and by feeding them certain gut loving fibre foods this will support them to grow and produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which help to reduce inflammation.

Some prebiotic foods to include in your diet are Kiwifruit, bananas, cabbage, rhubarb, fennel, oats, spelt pasta, and lentils.

Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is a prebiotic and helps to increase SCFA, soften stools and reduce colonic transit time, therefore it can be beneficial for patients with constipation associated IBS.

 

If you are someone who suffers from IBS or are experiencing these symptoms, then I would suggest you work with an accredited natural health care practitioner today. So, you can start to take action, be in control and not feel trapped by your IBS!

If you want to hear more about IBS, then register for this free webinar I am running for Natural Medicine Week “Are you Feeling Trapped by your IBS?” on Wednesday 25th May at 7:30.