Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is running rampant across our nation. In fact, nearly 60 million Americans—that’s about 20 percent of the population—have it and encounter uncomfortable bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and pain as a result.
There are differing opinions about IBS, but one is that IBS can result from two primary causes—overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in the small intestine and food sensitivities—although other factors can contribute as well. Those include lack of adequate "good bacteria" or probiotics; lack of sufficient digestive enzymes; parasites in the gut; zinc or magnesium deficiency; inflammation; and heavy metal toxicity.
But let’s get back to the topic of the small intestine. . . it’s vastly important, and it covers a lot of territory in the body, with its surface area about that of a tennis court. Additionally, it houses a fair amount of your immune system (nearly 80 percent) and is where food is absorbed.
However, it’s also just one cellular layer away from all the unhealthy bacteria and undigested food particles in your gut—a layer that can be breached by stress; too many antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs; intestinal infections; a low-fiber, high-sugar diet; alcohol; and much more. When this breach occurs, your immune system is on full alert and activates an immune response that irritates your enteric nervous system, leading to IBS and other undesired outcomes.
That’s why it’s important to keep your gut bacteria in balance—fueling the good guys with probiotic-rich foods and supplements, while diminishing the bad guys. The truth is that when these bad guys gain ground in your system, then they can take over, leading to small bowel bacterial overgrowth, which often underlies IBS.
Likewise, it’s wise to avoid GMOs, gluten, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, processed foods, refined sugars and flour as well as hydrogenated oils—all of which the standard American diet is loaded with. These toxic substances are instrumental in contributing to the destruction of the intestinal system and can lead to IBS and other problems.
Instead, fill up on “real” foods, including raw, organic veggies and fruits; grassfed pastured meats and dairy; fermented dairy and foods; enzyme-packed nuts and seeds as well as healthy oils such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil and others. These are all gut-friendly foods that can support your digestive health.
In short, you need to take care of your gut—including avoiding the fallout of IBS—so that it can take care of you.