Fiber for IBS

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*This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon to help support my blog. Most of the products are things I’ve tried. Thanks for reading!*

Don’t fear the fiber!

Just be picky with it.

A lot of functional health practitioners have written about how fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, can be rough on the intestines for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other bowel issues like SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

And they were right because I did not feel good after eating foods high in fiber or prebiotics. I couldn’t eat fruits, grains, legumes, and don’t even get me started on raw veggies. So, I was left with meat, fish, a tiny bit of white rice or white potato, and some cooked vegetables. Oh, and occasionally some blueberries, because those are pretty benign. I felt good on this diet, physically. Not so much mentally. After years of this diet in varying degrees, my poop got better but then worse again.

I’d get hard, lumpy poops then ones that would crumble when they hit the water as if there wasn’t enough binding them together. Neither made my gut feel good. I was doing all the other recommended treatments like: magnesium, eating more fat, exercising, drinking more water etc.

But I realized I wasn’t eating enough fiber because I’d been afraid of it for so long. Eating more fruit or starches wasn’t an option, because I still had a limit I couldn’t cross without bloating. And eating more vegetables wouldn’t work because they had too much insoluble fiber. So, I decided to be brave and try “extra fiber” once again. Mostly I followed Dr. Grace Liu’s advice. I altered it to fit my body.

Here’s what I did:

I started with 1/4 tsp of Acacia Fiber (it’s a soluble fiber, which is easier on the gut), 1/4 tsp of Psyllium Husk (this bulks up my stool nicely) and 1/8 tsp of Konjac Root in a bunch of water. I sipped this concoction slowly. SLOWLY BEING KEY! I did that for about a week, then upped the dosages of each until I started to have fantastic poops!

I’ve leveled out at:

1 tsp of Acacia

1tsp of Psyllium husk

1/2 tsp of Konjac

I’m still on a relatively low carb diet, because that’s just how my gut stays happy right now. I can’t eat more than 4 oz of starches per meal, and stick to only white rice, white potatoes, soaked oatmeal, and occasionally some Tapioca, Arrowroot or Millet flour in things I bake.

I also still avoid most fruits because their sugar content does not mesh well with my bowels at certain levels. Like, I can eat a small kiwi and be fine, but if I ate a whole peach, I wouldn’t feel so good. I can eat most berries in larger quantities (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) but only if they’ve been cooked.

But thanks to the addition of these three fibers, my poops are better than they’ve ever been. So, yeah, don’t shut out the idea of extra fiber to help your gut, especially after you’ve gone through some bad-bacteria eradication treatments (AKA herbal antibiotics) and feel confident your bloating is under control.

Heal on, my friends. Heal on.

 

Sources:

Dr. Grace Liu:

  1. Bionic Fiber – 7 Steps to Cure Sibo

Chris Kresser:

  1. The Truth About Fiber

Dr. Christianson:

  1. Fiber Types

 

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Probiotics for IBS and SIBO

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*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon that help support my blog. Thanks for reading!*
I want to mention that I am not a doctor, so go see your health professional for any health related issues. The following are just my personal experiences.

I have tried an excessive amount of probiotics to heal my gut!

Why so many?

Because not one has made enough of a significant positive change. That’s not to say they didn’t help at all. They probably all made positive changes in my gut along with diet and supplements. Because all probiotics aren’t created equal, I wanted to try different ones to see which ones my gut liked. I usually rotate which probiotics I try throughout the year to get a good diversity.

There’s one in particular that helped keep me regular. At least for the 3 months I took it in the summer of 2016 (I stopped after a while because bloating came back, probably diet related):

Unfortunately, I suspect that when I take probiotics for too long (like more than 1-3 months depending on my diet and stress levels) my IBS symptoms slowly come back. I’m not 100% sure it’s the probiotics, but I’m not convinced it wasn’t either. Considering probiotics can be controversial to use during the healing of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) because when you’re trying to get rid of an unnatural overpopulation of bacteria in your small intestine, it could be counterintuitive to add even more bacteria to your gut. At least until you’ve successfully eradicated most of the bacteria in your small intestine and can begin repleneshing your large intestine with beneficial bacteria.

I haven’t formally been diagnosed with SIBO, but apparently most people with IBS also have SIBO. It makes sense since many of the symptoms are similar.

Anyway, from my experience, and per the advice of Integrative Medicine Practitioners like Grace Lui, Chris Kresser and Alison Siebecker, probiotics are an integral part of healing the gut as well as remaining healthy.

Here are some of the types of probiotics I’ve tried.

  1. Food and drink based probiotics like: Kombucha, Kefir (both milk kefir and water kefir), and sauerkraut.
  2. VSL #3 – Not convinced this did anything for me.
  3. Prescript Assist – One of the best ones I’ve tried. Really helped with improving my poops.
  4. Align
  5. Seeking Health Probiotics
  6. Primal Defense
  7. Elixa – This one is intriguing because it’s a 6 day intensive treatment. I’ve done it twice and after the 5th or 6th day, started to notice better formed poops that lasted for a while. I could also see part of the capsules in the poop, which means that their claim that these capsules release slower is correct!
  8. Klare Labs Ther-Biotic
  9. The Gut Institute BIFIDO/MAXIMUS – This one is interesting because it’s specially formulated for people with IBS and SIBO. I like it so far.
  10. General Biotics Equilibrium

Heal on, my friends, heal on.

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Hemorrhoids

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*The following post contains affiliate links to Amazon to help support my blog. The included products are only things I’ve tried. Thanks for reading!*

I want to mention that I am NOT a doctor, so you should check with your health professional for any health problem.

Hemorrhoids… What a pain in the… Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

With my IBS, I get mostly hard stools. If I can’t fix it fast enough, then my hemorrhoids become irritated. Not fun! Seriously, if there’s one thing I want to warn people about, it’s AVOID HEMORRHOIDS AT ALL COSTS. If you have constipation or hard stools, fix it NOW! Hemorrhoids are the worst. Who knew such a small bundle of veins in a place we can’t see very well and don’t think about too much can ruin your entire day/week/month?

By the way, the word “hemorrhoids” makes me wince. Apparently, they’re also called Piles. But maybe we should lighten the mood and call them something silly like: Sit-Veins, Burning-Booty, Tooshie-Ouchies, Bum-Burns, Awkward-Things-That-Hurt-Like-a-!@#$.

Since I loathe going to a doctor (because of all my not-so-nice experiences with Docs in the past) here are the home treatments I’ve tried to get relief from butt-vein-irritation (yeah…that sounds better. Not.). But, if the hemorrhoids don’t get better, or if there’s bleeding, I will HAVE to drag myself to a doctor. Ugh.

1. Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm: It has no chemicals or preservatives, only natural ingredients. It helped me when my Tooshie-Veins were only mildly irritated, but wasn’t so good at relieving the stronger pain days. I think it actually made the burning worse on the bad days.

2. Witch Hazel Extract: Witch hazel is astringent and is supposed to shrink the hemorrhoids. First, I tried this one from Mountain Rose Herbs. I diluted it with a little water, soaked a q-tip and applied it gently. It helped relieve the milder pain for a while, but wasn’t so good for the stronger pain days, and even though it only has 14% alcohol and I diluted it with water, I don’t think I want to keep putting alcohol on my bum. Then I tried this alcohol-free one from Thayers. I didn’t notice any immediate relief, but it didn’t make it worse either, so maybe it helped bring down the inflammation overall.

3. PureTouch Medicated Tush Wipes:  These are great for general cleaning, especially while on the go. They contain Witch Hazel as well, so again, it helped relieve the milder pain days, but didn’t do much for the more irritated days.

4. Preparation H Cream: I tried the regular one and the Maximum Strength one and had maybe 10 minutes of relief but then more burning! I included the links to the ones I tried in case someone is interested in trying them, but they DID NOT work for me. Also, I read somewhere that putting phenylephrine on sensitive skin seems like a bad idea. Maybe I should try another brand that has Lidocaine (though that just covers up the symptoms and doesn’t heal the inflammation and I heard that using Lidocaine for long periods can cause more problems).

5. Sitz Bath: Dude… This is the simplest thing, but oh man did it give instant relief that lasted longer than any other of the above solutions I mentioned. I used the little toilet sitz accessory, but apparently you could just sit in a bath tub. I used warm water and a little bit of Epsom Salt, soaked for about 15-20 minutes 3-4 times a day (hard to do when you have to go to work, sadly), especially after a bowel movement, and felt noticeable relief in pressure and burning. I think the warm water helped to relax the spasm of muscles . I did this for about a week and thought I was getting better, but then I think I may have done it too many times because my bum started to feel a little dried out, causing a bit of a different stinging sensation. *Head-Desk*.

6. Sitting on Ice: I wrapped a large ice-pack in a towel and sat on it for about 10 minutes throughout the days. It made my butt-cheeks numb but provided relief from the pain for maybe about an hour at a time. Since ice can lower inflammation, it might have helped the hemorrhoids heal faster. Plus, it didn’t make anything worse. Apparently, there’s also something called Anurex, which is specially shaped ice tube for the bum area. I haven’t tried it because the regular ice pack helped me enough, especially at night.

7. Diaper Rash Cream with Zinc Oxide: Some people on several sites mentioned using a cream with zinc oxide in diaper rash ointments. So, I decided to try it because if it’s safe enough to put on a baby’s bum, then it shouldn’t hurt on mine, right? Desitin cream was mentioned, but it has some questionable ingredients, so I tried Badger Calendula Diaper Cream because it had minimal ingredients (which means less chance of aggravating my bum), and “clean”, natural ingredients. I can’t say it helped tremendously, but it didn’t make me feel worse, and maybe it protected the sensitive skin there to allow it to heal better (since that’s what zinc oxide does, protect the skin from extra moisture that can irritate). I also found that Tom’s of Maine and Honest Company had zinc oxide diaper creams with safe ingredients, but I didn’t try them.

8. Boiron Avenoc Ointment: Another more “natural” product with “cleaner” ingredients. It did not give any noticeable, fast relief, but it did not make things worse. It’s probably one of those things you have to use for a while to notice any effect. I think it’s helping reduce inflammation along with the ice, sitz baths and fixing my stools. So, an overall good thing to try.

This post will be updated if I find new remedies.

Heal on, my friends, heal on.

Sources:

The People’s Pharmacy: Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

Mayo Clinic: Hemorrhoids

Medicine.Net: Hemorrhoids

Natural Society: Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

 

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Keeping Constipation Away

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*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon to help support this blog. The included products are only things I’ve tried and liked. Thanks!*

I want to mention that I am NOT a doctor, so you should check with your health professional for any health related issues. The following are just my opinions.

My last post talked about how I relieve acute constipation, because sometimes, despite best efforts, your colon doesn’t want to play nice.

For me, if one 24 hour day passes, and I haven’t had the urge to poop, I start to implement my acute protocol right away because I know what happens when I wait too long.

But really, I don’t want this to happen at all. I want to be regular! So, here are the methods I use to keep my colon as happy as possible.

  1. Probiotics
      • Probiotics can be controversial and counterintuitive to some people with IBS and/or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I talk more about my experience with probiotics is my Probiotics for IBS post.
      • Apparently, people with chronic constipation can be low in certain beneficial bacteria, so taking a probiotic makes sense.
      • Here’s one that has had a meaningful impact on my constipation: Prescript Assist. Check out the post I mentioned above for more info on other probiotics that have helped me.

  2. Prebiotics, Resistant Starches and Fiber
    • Prebiotics and Resistant Starches are food for the probiotics. These can be controversial for people with IBS and/or SIBO because some are in the FODMAP group (these are foods with certain sugar types that can induce IBS symptoms).
    • Good fiber supplements: Acacia, Inulin, Arabinogalactan, Pectin, Psyllium. I’ve tried a lot. I talk about what worked for me in my Fiber for IBS post.
    • Includes sprouted legumes, sprouted grains, cooked and cooled potatoes and more. More detailed info on grains and legumes here on The Gut Institute. I am NOT eating legumes and still avoiding most grains. I just don’t think I’m ready to add those back in to my diet.
    • What I’m currently eating:
      • Soaked and cooked oatmeal, white jasmine rice, red/yellow/white potatoes. Sometimes I’ll eat really small amounts of soaked quinoa.
      • When I bake my bisquity-flatbreads, I include some green-banana flour, millet flour, and oat flour.
      • I still have to be careful with the amounts of starches and fibers I eat. I can’t eat more than 2-4 oz of any of these in one sitting and I’m still avoiding any of them during dinner meals to give my gut a break, and also so I have room for dessert! HA!
  3. Daily Magnesium Supplements
      • I play around with how much magnesium I take per day because if I take just a little too much I end up with poops that are way too soft and not comfortable either.
      • Sometimes I take  1tsp of Magnesium Citrate, and other times I take 100-400mg of Magnesium Glycinate.

  4. Exercise
    • Weightlifting, running, walking, jump rope, yoga, bike riding. I try to keep moving throughout the day, even if the it’s something small like stretching every twenty minutes, or doing lunges while cooking dinner. Even if this doesn’t help my constipation right away, at least I’m still moving my body.
  5. Fat
      • I make sure to always have enough fat with each meal, especially if I’m eating carbohydrates. That includes, ghee from grass-fed cows, olive oil, coconut oil (not sure my bowels like this oil but haven’t been able to prove it yet), beef tallow, or palm oil.
      • There are many reasons why fat is important, you can read about that here on Empowered Sustenance. Acient Organic’s Ghee is DELICIOUS. Expensive but oh soooo good.

 

My process changes all the time depending on how my gut is doing, but the things I listed here are usually what I fall back to. Hope it helps someone else out there.

Heal on, my friends, heal on

Sources:

  1. Chris Kresser: Chronic Constipation
  2. Perfect Health Diet: Constipation
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Constipation Relief

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*The following post contains affiliate links to Amazon that help support this blog. These are only products I’ve tried and liked. Thanks for reading!*

I want to mention that I am NOT a doctor, so you should see your health professional for any health related problems. The following are just my opinions.

Constipation is uncomfortable, painful, and weird to talk about. It’s awkward for me to write this post, but…we all poop! Unfortunately, some of us have a harder time. So, when all the vegetables in the world aren’t helping, what do you do? Besides checking in with your doctor.

For an episode of acute constipation, these are the methods I’ve used to get relief.

1. Magnesium supplements

  • I’ve tried these with good results:

        • Magnesium Citrate works faster to relieve constipation than other forms.
        • Magnesium Glycinate is absorbed better than other forms.
        • I’ve taken both in one day, spread out and they’ve both helped.
        • For an every day maintenance dose, I take what the bottle recommends or what Chris Kresser or The Perfect Health Diet says. But for acute constipation, I’ll up the dosage a little. The highest I’ve taken throughout one day is 800mg, but definitely ask your doctor or pharmacist before trying this. Everyone is different and under different circumstances and won’t react the same.

2. Vitamin C Supplement

        • When I take it in conjunction with the magnesium, it can enhance the potential laxative effect. A lot of the vitamin C’s, even the buffered ones, hurt my stomach, unless I take them with A LOT of water or separate the dosages throughout the day.

 

          • This is one of the ones I have to spread out:
          • These don’t hurt my stomach but don’t pack as much of a punch:

            and

          • The dosage depends. For an acute fix, I’ve taken 500mg-3grams with good results. Kresser and PHD say similar things.

3. Prunes

        • If the magnesium and vitamin C don’t do it for you, you could try dried plums. I’ve tried it and though it got things moving within a couple hours, the bloating was pretty annoying (thank the SIBO/IBS).

4. Suppositories

This is for when I’m really desperate for relief. For when the pressure, cramps and need to push is there, but the stool is impacted or just too hard. It’s weird and uncomfortable, but I get relief within 5-15 minutes! So worth the weirdness.

        • The one that works for me, is easy to handle and has given me no side effects, is this one:

or

 

5. Jumping

        • Yep, jumping. Like a kid on a trampoline or an overly excited dog. Bouncing on the balls of your feet, running, jogging, using a trampoline, jump-rope, squat and jump, skipping. Whatever gets your body to go up and down can actually help your colon move things along. See the resource at the end of post for more info.
        • I usually bounce or do a light in-place jog or actually run outside. Don’t have to get sweaty, but just enough to start breathing harder. I do this as often as I remember throughout the day, and I usually see results.
        • Either way, I’m getting some exercise, so win-win.

Things I avoid:

1. Senna

        • Unless you’re backed up and have no urges, no feeling of having to go, you could try senna tea. When I tried the senna tea, it made the cramping and urge to go so much worse, but did NOTHING to help the softening of the stool.
        • I do NOT recommend Senna, but everyone is different and it might work for some people.

2. Other oral laxatives:

        • I’ve only tried Miralax and it’s horrible. Gave me terrible bloating and indigestion. Plus, it has unhealthy ingredients.

My best advice is to avoid getting to the constipation stage. If I notice my stools getting harder, lumpier and less frequent, I get to fixing it right away. The longer I wait, the more chance of an uncomfortable, acute constipation episode.

Next post will be about the things I’ve tried to help regulate my stools in the long term.

Sources:

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Betaine HCL for Bloating and Heartburn

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If you haven’t heard of Betaine HCL (hydrochloric Acid), here’s the gist: It’s a supplement taken by those who have a hard time digesting meals. It stimulates and helps your stomach acid do its job. It can also be helpful for people with heartburn, which sounds counterintuitive, but mainstream medicine has it wrong.

For more details, check out the resources at the bottom of this post.

Part of the process of healing my IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) included taking Betaine HCL supplements. During my initial healing year, when I still had way too many digestive issues, HCL helped. Especially when I ate starches, big meals, or fatty meals.

Since then, I’ve had times where I can be off the HCL completely and feel fine. Other times, I’ll enter a period where the bloating, distention, and heartburn come back right after or during a meal. These times are a resurgence of bad bacteria in my gut (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).

While I try to figure out once again what went wrong, I’m back to taking Betaine HCL supplements with each full meal. At one point, I got up to eight pills with a meal.

It probably won’t help everyone (didn’t help my husband when he had some digestive issues). But, if you’re still struggling with ups and downs of healing your digestive system, think about trying some Betaine HCL. Definitely ask your doctor about it.

Here are the ones I’ve tried with good results: (These link back to Amazon, which helps support my blog)

Resources:

1. Chris Kresser on GERD

2. SCD Lifestyle: How to Supplement with Bentaine HCL for Low Stomach Acid

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Diets for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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To curb the symptoms of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I’ve tried the following diets:

1. Paleo

2. Modified Paleo (The Perfect Health Diet) PHD-cover-front1-198x300

3. Low FODMAP

4. SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

5. A combination of all of them

Click on the links above for more info on what these diets entail. There are probably more diets to try, but I’ve had good and bad results with all of these.

*This post contains affiliate links to help support my blog. Thanks!*
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