IBS and Disease Prevention, by S.P.

During the summer of 2013 I experienced my very first health scare. I was thirty-eight years old at the time, and aside from catching the flu or suffering from an occasional sinus infection as a result of seasonal allergies, I had been very fortunate to not have any major health issues.

Well my perception of good health changed drastically after I began having some very unpleasant digestive problems. There was a very abrupt change in the pattern of my bowel movements, and for the very first time in my life I experienced excruciating abdominal pain. The stomach cramps became so unbearable that I would be left confined to a sofa for several hours. After mentioning my symptoms to my mom, who has worked as a registered nurse for over four decades, I was told that it sounded like I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I had no idea what IBS was, but I immediately went to my laptop and conducted a Google search. Needless to say, the information I stumbled across left me startled. As I recollect, screening for colon cancer was suggested in the Wikipedia on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and just seeing the dreaded “C-Word” mentioned with the symptoms my body was displaying was enough to shift my amygdala into overdrive.

The Diagnosis and Natural Healing

Prior to visiting my primary care physician and being officially diagnosed with IBS-D, IBS-C, and chronic anxiety, I attempted to heal my digestive issues on my own. The very first thing I did was visit a few local drugstores to see whether or not there was an easy, over-the-counter solution. Two different pharmacists recommended Imodium A-D, and one suggested I take a Probiotic.

As someone who has been an active participant in the wellness industry, I had heard about the popularity of Probiotic supplements. But admittedly, I was very clueless about their health benefits, and the role they play for gut health. So, I contacted a former business partner who I thought would be knowledgeable, and he confirmed that taking Probiotic supplements was definitely the way to go. He also suggested that I consume it with a high caliber fiber mixture to achieve a more potent, synergistic effect.

To make a long story short: I didn’t listen to either the pharmacist or my former business partner. I decided to try taking the fiber mixture along with a digestive enzyme supplement.

Well the combination didn’t work, and the abdominal pain I was experiencing became so horrendous I decided to schedule an appointment to see my physician. It was at that appointment I was told that stress and anxiety had triggered my irritable bowel syndrome. After rejecting the idea of taking Zoloft, a prescription for supposedly “safe” anti-anxiety drug Buspar (Buspirone) was written, and it was also recommended that I take Metamucil.

It was at that turning point my intuition really kicked in. Instinctively, taking a drug for anxiety didn’t feel right. I never took the prescription to the pharmacy to be filled. And while I initially purchased a small container of Metamucil, I never even opened it because after I discovered it contained the highly questionable ingredients Aspartame and FD&C Yellow No. 6 I ended up returning it.

Instead, I decided to trust my intuition (which had initially told me to contact my former business partner) and buy the probiotic supplement. I combined the Probiotic with a premium Fiber blend as he suggested, and approximately five days later “Abracadabra!” The excruciating abdominal pain was completely gone, and all of my IBS symptoms had vanished as well. I was belated and beyond astonishment.

A Wake-Up Call for Better Health

My bout with IBS and the fact that I was able to remedy the ailment naturally (without the use of prescription medication) proved to be something of a watershed moment for me. For the very first time in my life I began to seriously contemplate my mortality, as well as the probability of being taken out by a deadly disease.

The overwhelming majority of Americans live a high stress lifestyle bombarded by toxins, sodium, sugar, unhealthy fat, free radicals and cholesterol. As a by-product, we’re dying of man-made, degenerative diseases.

I chose to focus my wellness plan aimed at protecting myself from The Big 3 Killer Diseases: 1) Heart Disease 2) Cancer and 3) Stroke.

The Biggest Culprit and Nature’s Remedy

One of the major causes of degenerative diseases is free radicals and their damaging effects within the human body. Free radicals are scientifically defined as “uncharged molecules having an unpaired valence electron.” But the greatest explanation of what they are that I’ve come across was written in a Special Report entitled Your Health is in Danger! By Robert G. Allen.

In this Special Report Allen wrote,

“Compare it to the engine in your car. It burns gasoline for fuel and emits exhaust or pollution into the air. Every cell in your body is like a tiny engine of energy. One of its fuel is oxygen. To power your body, about a trillion molecules of oxygen pass through each of your 60 trillion cells each day. As this oxygen is burned for fuel, it creates a sort of cellular “exhaust” called free radicals. Huge numbers of these free radical oxidants ricochet around your cells, punching tiny holes in cell walls and damaging the internal machinery.”

Nature’s solution to this highly damaging process is for our body’s immune system to naturally create antioxidants—and certain foods contain them as well. Glutathione and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) are two of the best antioxidants created in the body. Some of the best antioxidants found in food include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol and Vitamin A, in the form of safe Beta Carotene. A diet high in these key antioxidants has the ability to assist the body in neutralizing free radical damage in the body.

Unfortunately, our fast-paced, modern world is full of pollution. In addition to being in the environment, free radical molecules are created by radiation, chemicals, pesticides and preservatives, and even by exercise. As a result, the human body is being overwhelmed by their damaging effects.

My Battle Plan for Optimal Health

Ultimately, my IBS health scare proved to be a blessing in disguise. First and foremost, it really opened my eyes to the relationship between the mind and the body. Then it caused me to refocus on the importance of nutrition.

These are the six steps I began to religiously implement following my 90-day bout with IBS:

Step 1: Strengthen the Immune System at All-Costs

I incorporated immune boosting nutrients and herbs into my diet. Potent herbs and nutrients for immune system strength include Echinacea, Garlic, Ginger Root, Vitamin C, Zinc and Elderberry.

Adding a diverse blend of Probiotic “good bacteria” became my focus as well. Drinking Kombucha and taking a superb Probiotic supplement with Lactobacilllus rhamnosus LGG and Bifidobacterium BB-12 became a priority.

Step 2: Supplement with High-Quality Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to eating only real (unprocessed), natural foods from natural retailers like Whole Foods and Earth Fare, I started back supplementing my diet with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.

The supplement manufacturer I chose follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for pharmaceuticals; and has NSF certification.

A key goal of supplementation is to get the broadest spectrum of antioxidants in my body. This includes: Vitamin A, in the form of Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Glutathione, Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Zinc. Other potent nutrients I look for in a nutritional supplement are Vitamin D3, Meriva Bioavailable Curcumin, Lycopene and Resveratrol.

Step 3: Learn Effective Relaxation and Stress Management Techniques

Getting rid of anxiety and learning to manage stress became paramount. I try to get at least 30 solid minutes of exercise a minimum of 3 days a week.

Also, I drink Chamomile with Lavender herbal tea, wash with high-quality organic lavender soap, and occasionally supplement with Melatonin.

Supplementing with Adaptogen herbs like Ashwaganda, Ginseng (Siberian), Astragalus Root, Rhodiola and Valerian Root are on my wish list.

Step 4: Eat Heart-Healthy Foods

In addition to getting plenty of exercise, I studied and implemented some of the Mediterranean diet and its effect on cardiovascular health. A heart healthy diet includes Red Grapes and Concord Grape Juice (Resveratrol), Dark Chocolate (80% plus Cacao recommended), Raspberries, Avocados, Wild-Caught Salmon, Walnuts and Pumpkin seeds. Potent herbs beneficial to the heart include Hawthorn Berry, Red Clover, Ginger Root and Garlic.

Step 5: Consume Anti-Cancer Foods and Nutrients

The very first anti-cancer food I focused on was Fiber (Soluble and Insoluble). Eating a high-fiber diet is associated with a decreased risk for developing colon cancer, and the prevention of intestinal disorders.

I aim to get between 21 to 38 grams of fiber daily.

Ginger was very next remedy I added to my arsenal. I did so by preparing homemade ginger tea.

Because of natural substances called gingerols, ginger is anti-inflammatory and can work as an antioxidant to fight free radicals.

Drinking Turmeric Golden milk (with organic turmeric, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg, organic licorice root, and organic black pepper) added another weapon.

Curcumin, an active part of turmeric, is what gives it the healing power. I highly recommend reading “Top 12 Cancer-Fighting Foods.”

Step 6: Focus on Good Liver Health

As I was in the process of cleaning up my diet by making the transition to organic foods, I befriended the owner of a small health food store in my area. She and her team helped educate me on the role of the liver and its ability to detoxify the body.

Milk thistle is one of the most significant natural herbs for detoxifying the liver, and the entire body. According to Dr. Josh Axe: “Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, is an antioxidant that can protect against depletion of Glutathione, which is a ‘master antioxidant”’that’s extremely useful at helping prevent disease formation.”

My detoxification goals are centered on invigorating the natural creation of Glutathione, and maintaining great digestive health by supplementing my diet with high-quality Psyllium, Inulin, Citrus Pectin, and Flaxseed.

Special Note: Turmeric, and Dandelion Root are also potent herbs for detoxification.

Things That I’ve Stopped Ingesting

Last but not least, here is a list of highly controversial ingredients I chose to no longer put inside my body or on my skin: Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), BHA and BHT [Preservatives], Aspartame [Artificial Sweetener], Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 [Food Coloring], Red #3 and Red # 40 [Food Coloring], Blue #1 and Blue #2 [Food Coloring], Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Nitrate, Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride, Olestra, Potassium Bromate, TBHQ [Preservative], Parabens [Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben], Vegetable Oils [Canola, Soybean], Bisphenol A (BPA), Aluminum [Aluminum Chloride, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate], Polysorbate 80, Propylene Glycol

Bibliography

Allen, Robert G. “Your Health is in Danger!” Churchill Trust.1998.

Axe, Josh. “Milk Thistle Benefits: Detox the Liver and Boost Glutathione.” Dr. Axe. Last modified October 2, 2018. https://draxe.com/milk-thistle-benefits/.

“Ginger.” In The Kitchen Table Book: 1,427 Kitchen Cures and Pantry Potions for Just about Every Health and Household Problem, edited by FC&A Medical Publishing, 153. FC&A Publishing, 2009.

Levy, Jillian. “Fighting Free Radicals & Free Radical Damage.” Dr. Axe. Last modified December 12, 2017. https://draxe.com/fighting-free-radical-damage/.




19 Comments

  1. Great article, links colon health to stress too, something many miss.
    Couple comments:

    Echinacea – I suggest that EVERYONE keep this in the medicine chest, BUT, do NOT TAKE on a daily basis. GREAT immune system booster, but for the short term… so, just think you are starting to get sick, TAKE until well, and QUIT. Some research suggests that you loose the immune system boost if you take too long, and MAY even get some immune system suppression if you quit after taking for a long time.

    Probiotics – GREAT of colon health, any that has a bifido____ strain seems to work for PREVENTION. For TREATMENT of any any gut or gut related problem (from allergies to depression), what works for one person may not work for the next, it’s some trial and error to see what works. If NONE work to treat a symptom, add in a spoor containing probiotic to see if that is what is needed.

    Red clover: Women of child bearing years may want to consult with someone knowledgeable about red clover before taking.

    Once again, GREAT article. The old “an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure” strikes again….

    1. One alternative to probiotics is making fermented foods. This encourages and feeds your natural gut biome, helps teach you a valuable skill, and preserves food for longer term. It’s 3 wins in 1. There’s plenty of book resources out there to discuss it.

  2. Thanks for sharing this important information. My family, going back several generations, has suffered with stress- and lifestyle-induced bowel difficulties. I’ve implemented a lot of what you suggest into our lifestyle, but you’ve given me some new suggestions as well. I’m going to work even harder at “cleaning us up.” Thanks again!

  3. You are correct in deciding to try first to concentrate on diet changes/probiotics, etc. to see if there is any improvement to your condition. Sadly, the homeopathic physicians are “dissed” by many main stream doctors and certainly Big Pharma/FDA/CDC. Modern medicine (I am 76) has done wonders for conditions for which there was little to no help when I was young, BUT I have also witnessed the problems that the modern American diet has caused, and factory farms/pesticides/insecticides/additives, etc. The Health Ranger/Dr. Mercola/Dr. Brownstein/Dr. Gundry and others are changing how some of us eat. We transitioned to ONLY pasture raised/organically fed meats from an organic farm, all natural ingredients, and definitely cooking from scratch, added lots of vegetable fiber to our diet. Any condiments are all natural, we both take supplements. Absolutely NO Wheat as it is all sprayed with Roundup. Hard to give up bread, but there are many nut flours that make decent substitutes. Also, NO corn in any form as it is also highly modified and SPRAYED. I think your posting will help a lot of folks.

  4. Excellent topic!

    In addition to probiotics, we feed our good gut bacteria with prebiotics such as plantain and cassava.

    We eat living fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut and pickled vegetables. My definition of ‘living’ fermented foods means zero vinegar to artificially add tanginess.

    If you buy fermented foods, look for them in the cold case instead of out on the shelves. The sauerkraut out of the cold case has vinegar, and is worthless if you need probiotics.

    Additionally, we rotate our probiotics monthly. A different formula, a different supplier.

    I’m 67, 5’10” at 155#, and at peak health.
    My sisters are 65 and 63, morbidly obese and riddled with cancers.
    My sisters refuse to change, refuse to believe diet effects health.
    They eat soy, RoundUp, and believe ‘healthcare’ is meds, meds, and more meds.

  5. “If you are healthy you are wealthy”! God provided everything needed for good human health!! Your Holy Bible tells you what is healthy to eat. Drink lots of water, eat whole grains, exercise (bicycle, stretch, light weight program) think good thoughts and love your neighbor. I turned 66 today and I watch my sodium (salt) intake. Listen to the beautiful sounds of nature and some good classical music (Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin,etc). Clear your mind and heart and focus on the good!

  6. Food allergies can also be the cause of IBS with diarrehea. It came on suddenly at 60 and continued for 5 years. A conversation with a friend, also suffering, shined the light on food allergies or sensitivities. As a baby she had been allergic to milk and had grown out of it. But after the age of 60 she had constant diarrehea and a friend mentioned old age food sensitivities. She stopped dairy and it went away. I thought about my diet growing up and how it had changed when I married. Lots of wheat based foods like pasta which my mother had scorned. I stopped eating wheat products and in 3 days my diarrehea was completely gone. You can look it up online. I can eat wheat once in a while, but if I have it a few days in a row I get diarrehea. This is not gluten intolerance. Just sensitive. Never bothered me until the age of 60. Just another area to research if you have this problem

  7. a word of caution about the hawthorn berry. if you decide to take this, get a good blood pressure monitor, and use it at least twicw a day. hawthorn berry can, as it did/does for me, lower tour BP to dangerously low levels.
    i monitor and adjust or discontinue use as needed to keep the old ticker running in it’s sweet zone.

  8. I hope S.P. is a female, as lavender has strong estrogenic properties, and should be used with great caution by males, and most especially, by young boys who are still developing.

    Lavender tea, and lavender soap smell wonderful and are very calming. But too much estrogen can get nasty.

  9. All I know is when I eat food from my humble urban homestead–various domestic and wild greens, beans, berries, the tomatoes when ripe I am a healthy and happy camper.

    Being very thrifty, I revel in eating food that costs no money. Today, berries are the top menu item.

    Carry on

  10. It’s not the wheat or gluten. Its the chemicals, mostly glysophate, thats being applied to the plants. Research how glysophate is used to speed up processing of crops. Glysophate kills the beneficial bacteria in our intestines. It’s an herbicide. If you eat any “cide” ie: herbicide, insecticide, etc it’s not healthy! Also, the animals feeding on these don’t breakdown the chemicals in their bodies and past them on through the flesh. Glysophate is banned in many countries and they don’t have the health problems the US does. My wife and I suffer from some of the above described symptoms unless we eat organic or foods from countries where these chemicals have been banned. Having traveled over the world, we have found this specifically.

  11. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha

    Numerous implausible health benefits have been attributed to drinking kombucha.[9] These include claims for treating AIDS, aging, anorexia, arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, constipation, and diabetes, but there is no evidence to support any of these claims.[7][9] Moreover, the beverage has caused rare cases of serious adverse effects, including fatalities, possibly arising from contamination during home preparation.[10][11] Therefore, the potential harms from drinking kombucha outweigh any unclear benefits, so it is not recommended for therapeutic purposes.[9]

  12. Good article. One point though, there’s nothing wrong with salt. It’s necessary for life. There is a small segement of the population with high blood pressure that can benefit from a lower sodium diet (though they still do need salt).

    But for the rest of us it’s fine.

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