These are all symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). If you suffer from IBS, then you’ll likely experience one or more of these symptoms at any given time.
IBS affects up to 70 million people in the U.S., with a huge prevalence among women (up to 65% of sufferers!!).
Finally having a diagnosis of IBS is half the battle.
Once a diagnosis is made, conventional treatment for IBS typically includes a prescription to mask your symptoms, which does nothing to get to the ROOT of your problem. Or you’re given a 1 page “Low FODMAP” handout with no further explanation as to how to proceed with this mysterious diet.
What I’m about to share with you is the fundamental 5R approach that I use with my clients to help them overcome their IBS.
This 5 step approach is going to be an important piece to your healing journey and will help you to finally achieve symptom relief from IBS once and for all!
The 5R’s are approached in this particular order:
Now let’s take a look at each step and how these are used to develop an individualized plan for healing IBS.
What do you need to remove that may be upsetting your digestive health? Some of the most common issues for IBS sufferers are:
In my practice, the first step of “REMOVE” incorporates food sensitivity testing to identify your individual gut immune triggers to foods and chemicals.
Food sensitivities are tricky because they can take up to 72 hours to see symptoms manifest, so pin-pointing these on your own is virtually impossible.
With food sensitivity testing, we can get straight to the point (without having to shoot in the dark and guess what’s ailing you) while designing an elimination diet protocol THAT WORKS.
Food sensitivity testing and the elimination diet protocol have a dramatic impact in calming your IBS symptoms.
For the second step of “REMOVE”, I utilize stool testing to see what is actually going on inside your gut!
Often times the ROOT cause of your IBS could be: a bacterial imbalance (called dysbiosis), a yeast overgrowth, a parasitic infection (way more common than you think!), or a viral infection.
When we identify EXACTLY what is happening inside your gut we are able to develop a plan that fixes these imbalances!
Finally, if you live a super fast-paced lifestyle, or are dealing with a huge amount of stress due to significant events in your life, then chances are you’ll experience these stressors in your gut.
Your brain and gut have an intimate connection and your gut is known as your “second brain“– so whatever stressors you’re dealing with in life will certainly have an impact on your IBS symptoms.
Sometimes we can’t completely “remove” stress but we can certainly come up with interventions that incorporate more self care, relaxation, and “slowing down.” One of the most important steps in this category is to slow down when you eat!
If you’re one of those eat-behind-the-steering-wheel people, then there’s definitely some work to be had! Taking the time to eat in a relaxed environment (that’s not the steering wheel of your car or your work desk) and thoroughly chewing your food can have a dramatic impact on your body’s ability to properly digest foods.
I’ve written an extensive article about why cultivating a positive mind-body connection is essential to your healing and simple tips to get started.
Once the offending foods are removed, gut imbalances are corrected, and stressors have been reduced, then we can move onto the second phase of the program which is “REPLACE.”
In this step, I help clients optimize their digestion by utilizing digestive enzymes (if they are low.)
I may also add in certain types of fibers to improve gut transit time and motility.
I will even investigate which vitamins and minerals my client is depleted in so that we can further support optimal digestion.
Replacing enzymes, fibers, and nutrients are crucial to enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut and enhances your digestive health overall.
In this step, we look at establishing a healthy micro-biome. Restoring the balance of good bacteria in your gut is absolutely essential to achieving a healthy digestive tract.
Most often, I recommend clients choose fermented foods (like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, etc) or make their own .
Another way to fast track this step is to choose the most effective probiotic strains depending on the primary symptoms a client is struggling with.
A client suffering from constipation would require a much different strain than those suffering from diarrhea, etc.
This step is crucial for a long term recovery and so often it’s a step that is missed out in conventional treatment– which is generally only concerned with the removal phase and not the work that needs to come afterwards.
Although your gut lining is only 1 cell thick, it serves an important function in keeping order and balance in your body.
Inflammation and increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) are common causes of an unhappy gut lining.
Repairing your gut lining ensures proper absorption of foods and nutrients and can be accomplished using:
Ensuring step 1 (Remove) has been fully completed is essential before moving onto this step, otherwise these efforts will become fruitless!
This step is most often overlooked by other health care practitioners, but it is a BIG one.
Put simply, the majority of your gut issues stem from the mismanagement of your stress.
Rebalance looks at how you can better manage your stress response so you can experience better digestion. Modifying how you respond to stress can help modify your symptoms of IBS.
Here are a few tools to help you manage the stress component in your life:
There you have it! The 5R approach will send you on your way to completely healing your IBS once and for all!
If you’re ready to get started on your journey to overcoming IBS then it’s time to get started with your own individualized 5R plan!