Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome Through Lifestyle Change

8 05 2020

Updated: 8 May 2020

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may cause much discomfort in the large intestine. But it is not considered a serious health risk. It also does not cause more serious diseases such as intestinal bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. IBS can also irritate, aggravate and inflame hemorrhoids which is a separate medical condition.

What causes IBS? No one knows for sure. There is not one identifiable organic factor. However clinical studies and research show symptoms are likely caused by various internal and external stimuli.

Those who experience IBS may be influenced by weakened immune system, reproductive hormones, diet, environment, mental health and lifestyle choice. Where 1 out of every 5 adults experience IBS or ~58 million Americans. The condition is more prominent in women starting as early as 20 years of age. And for those affected Americans, it’s typically experienced under the age of 45. Women also tend to be two times more likely than men to become symptomatic via stimuli response.

“Common triggers associated with IBS discomforts are thought to be mentally, environmentally and genetically triggered.”

Common triggers associated with IBS discomforts are thought to be mental and environmental stress and genetically connected. For instance, if IBS runs in a family, suspect genetics; whereas environmental stressors may influence the same stimuli, or triggered symptoms within offspring. Whereas environmental stressors may also cause anxiety, depression. Other IBS symptomatic triggers include: poor diet, drug use and sedentary lifestyle. It is therefore reasonable to assume parents, or a cousin for example, who have found IBS relief… like-treatment, or lifestyle change may alleviate in-family IBS like-symptoms.

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Doctors do agree, internal and external environment stress stimuli influence the digestive food coordination process. The intestines, rectum and colon have reactive triggers that are piped to the brain and are partly controlled by the autonomic nervous system [much like the heart and the lungs]. However the signals from the brain to the intestines are also lined with muscle that work in a rhythmic contraction and relaxation coordination to move food through the body.

Stressful Environments can Trigger IBS Symptoms.

Environmental stressors may cause intestine function for some to contract too little, or too much whereas the following discomfort conditions result. Removing too little water through the intestinal lining causes diarrhea. And when too much water is removed constipation occurs. It is when arithmetic muscle coordination incrementally increases within the large intestine so do the IBS symptoms. Either condition can cause cramping, bloating and gas felt within the stomach and accompanied to varying degree of either condition. Since we’re all wired a little bit different not all of us react the same way to stimuli stress triggers.

Another common IBS trigger occurs when too many bad bacteria buildup within the intestines. Whereas antibiotics or probiotics may help to alleviate this problem.

For some, vacation avoidance and staying homebound prevents stress triggers that cause IBS symptoms. For others, a cruise is just what’s needed to relieve IBS symptoms. That’s how different we’re wired. Identifying negative and positive stress triggers is the first step in connecting the dots and alleviating the symptoms.

IBS IS NOT considered a disease. As you now know, can be more or less thought of as an aggravated physiological condition triggered by lifestyle, genetics and within specific environmental settings that interrupt the connected mind-body digestive coordination process. The most common stressors include: undiagnosed mental health disorders, relationship and employer stress, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive behavior, etc. Diet and drug [lifestyle choice] use also stimulate and trigger IBS-like symptoms.

Common treatment for diarrhea and constipation,

Obtain a Prescription for Diarrhea: Lotronex, Prevalite, Colestid or Welchol. Over-the-counter drugs: loperamide (Imodium), or Kaopectate could help.

Obtain a Prescription for Constipation: Zelnorm or a laxative such as milk of magnesia, etc. Over-the counter drugs: fiber supplements like Metamucil or Citrucel could help.

Be sure to ask for specifics of IBS treatment from treating physicians.

When purchasing an over-the-counter drug be sure to speak with a pharmacist to determine best product and application use. If either prescription or over-the-counter products are not used correctly, they can cause other health problems.

Alternative IBS treatments includes: herbs, acupuncture, massage, meditation and hypnosis.

IBS has no cures. You must manage what triggers the symptoms!

Other IBS Alleviation/Relief Recommendations:

1 Make a medical appointment with gastroenterologist and prepare in advance. For instance, keep a journal of the foods you eat, how much of suspected food irritants, daily exercise and any drugs taken. Then be mindful of what may likely stimulate the IBS episodes, time of day and how severe the symptoms feel. E.g., on a scale of 1-10. Ten being the worst.

2 Reduce large meal intake, which can cause cramping, and diarrhea [try consuming smaller and more frequent meals], slow down when you eat. And stop chewing gum, both results in too much gas (air).

3 Check risk warnings on medicines prescribed. Ask your doctor about questionable medications.

4 Remove chocolate, caffeine, milk-dairy products [determine if lactose intolerant], bread [determine if gluten intolerant] and alcohol from diet. Try removing one at a time to see if symptoms improve. Log this information in your daily journal.

5 Remove stress, conflict and other emotional upsetting factors from environment.

6 Drink 6-8 glasses of water/day, especially for diarrhea. This seems counter intuitive, but it will make you feel better by flushing your system. And you must rehydrate when losing too much water within the body. Don’t drink carbonated drinks. It’s a no brainer to drink more water when constipated.

Choose exercise activity that helps reduce stress and anxiety while increasing fitness levels
Choose exercise activity that helps reduce stress and anxiety while increasing fitness levels

7 Try consuming low fat & higher in carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, rice and whole grain breads & cereals, unless you have celiac disease. This disease mimics IBS. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease, your body can’t digest gluten (wheat, rye, barley, etc.,) a blood test can rule out if you have celiac disease).

8 Increase fruits and vegetable consumption within your diet.

9 Get enough exercise and sleep.

References,

Bolen, Barbara, Dr. “What Is IBS and Do You Have It?” About.com Health. About.com, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Cunha, John P., DO, FACOEP. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS: Symptoms and Diet Info.” MedicineNet. MedicineNet, Inc., 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Staff. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 July 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Staff. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)-Topic Overview.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2015 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Learn How to X-Factor Garden Space

7 03 2020

Updated: 7 March 2020, Marc Woodard

Although many people begin planting gardens as early as March in the great North West, it is not too late to begin within the month of May. It is well known gardening activity is good for wellbeing, increased fitness levels and overall health, not to mention the nutritional value of consuming farmed fresh foods. There is also an X-factor created when gardening space wraps around outdoor patios and decks.

As one of many Tigard residents who grew up planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables on large acreage home farms, it’s fascinating to see how today’s generation makes use of small space to produce high-yields of farmed fresh foods.

There’s no need to go full plow and bulk seed bananas if looking to grow an affordable and manageable garden on a deck or patio; and like the ideal of embellishing it with a multi-dimensional vine catching structure that engulfs an outdoor social gathering and dining space.

You can easily build a garden trellis structure made out of rope wire anchored to walls or poles that continue overhead within a 6’x4′ (24sf) to 8’x5′ (40 sqft) space, or larger. And able to handle the weight of favorite veggies and fruit hanging from the vine. Similar to the bean tunnel made out of old pipe parts as seen in the picture below. Inexpensive no-frills PVC pipe can also be easily attached in garden beds that look like a Quonset hut. However the wire rope trellis system has become a hipster gardening favorite. It looks great and can be installed affordably in a small space by anyone.

Vegetable and fruits above and at ground level.
Bean Tunnel made out of repurposed pipe.

To Build a simple and affordable wire rope lattice-trellis Structure – All you need are 2-3 long eye, or line-hooks, etc., to secure ½” to ¾” into walls or pole [siding]; wire rope, turnbuckle [used to apply tension to rope], S-hooks, and wire rope clamp-eyelet hardware. Installation: Measure the distance of desired siding and overhead rope runs to determine line length for project. Purchase enough line-hooks to install at 24 inch intervals up vertical siding. Add 6 inches extra rope length for each line set to install rope clamp-eyelet for connecting turn buckle and S-hook hardware at wall base hooks. Connect one turn buckle between S-hook [S-Hook is connected to wall base eyelet hook] and other end of turn buckle attaches to the clamped wire rope eyelet. Then on the other end install the rope wire anchor hardware without a turn buckle. Horizontal ski line anchors may or may not be needed depending on produce weight. If you choose not to run open sky overhead lines you likely don’t need a turn buckle.

As vines grow from soil – direct and lean them against both ends of lattice lines. Once vines are long enough, they’ll wrap themselves up the rope and continue overhead. Horizontal and vertical runs of snap peas, squash, beans, eggplant, zucchini, melons and grapes etc., can easily be grown and attached at any section of the structure from potted wall troughs, beds and shelved pots. [Local Home and Garden specialist, or Internet instruction can help with hardware installation and lattice-trellis wire rope design and hardware options]. Tools needed: drill, tape measure, wire cutter, crescent wrench, or socket set and screwdriver.

Green tomatoes hanging by the vine

To make full use of a garden trellis floor or ground space below: place staggered shelves, pots and trough beds at the parameter. If there is wall space available that sees sun – secure shelving at various heights. Or consider staggered ground shelving unit(s) that can be built at little cost using re-purposed planks, book shelves, etc., elevated on cinder blocks. Or create a stair like structure to reap the benefits of additional growing space that sees plenty of sunshine. Place lower profile garden produce like cherry tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and Kale at ground or mid-shelve level. Top shelves can be used for herbs like Basel, rosemary, parsley, oregano, cilantro, etc. And/or use top shelves to set and direct potted plant vines to make further use of mid garden overhead trellis space.

Garden path to patio area.

Lastly, to create a stupendous X-Factor garden… If you have large enough space to integrate patio furniture and barbecue you can create a very unique social-dining experience.

Farmed fresh to table…

Where farmed fresh foods can be harvested, prepared and cooked in front of guests while sharing green thumb stories over a favorite glass of wine.

If a deck, porch, patio or ample ground space is not an option but you’d like to grow a garden within a small plot, many cities like the one I live in offer 4′ x 8′ community garden boxes to plant seasonally at an affordable price. To learn more about community gardens in the city of Tigard, OR… use link: http://www.tigard-or.gov/communitygardens or call 503-718-2591.

Good health to you and your family.

Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2018-20 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., “To learn more about MirrorAthlete Fit Healthy Lifestyle, City Recreation and free monthly newsletter, visit: http://www.mirrorathlete.com.