What does your gut tell you?

Published by Manila Bulletin, November 18, 2014

You’re all excited and nervous just before a big event, say a business presentation, your own wedding, a major exam or simply asking someone on a date when you suddenly feel the urge to go to the loo and do number two! Cramping, bloating, discomfort, pain, profuse sweating, goosebumps, and that cold clammy feeling. If only you could excuse yourself from wherever you are before you pass out if you don’t instantly let it all out!

Sounds familiar? Have you ever wondered why in the most inopportune moments, you get the urge to move your bowels when you’re nervous or in a stressful situation? That is because nerves from your colon have a direct connection to your brain. Stress therefore triggers colon activity, which causes spasms, contrary to what we mostly believe in, that diarrhea or loose bowel movement is merely caused by food intake or food poisoning.

2019Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the large intestine. Although not considered a disease, this condition has many symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, cramping, discomfort, abdominal pain, and gassiness (flatulence). This condition may be triggered or caused by genetic predisposition, allergies, infection, lifestyle including diet and exercise, stress, and excessive amount of bacteria growing in the intestine.

Here is a guideline on how you can manage IBS.

• Avoid large meals. Eat small frequent meals to reduce the amount of food moving through your digestive system.

• Avoid fatty foods.

• Observe proper meal timing. Eating every four to six hours is ideal to regulate your bowel movement.

• Learn to manage stress. Totally avoiding stress is impossible but one has to consciously apply strategies that can help cope with it. Take time to rest for a few minutes several times a day, do breathing exercises, pray, listen to music, take short naps, or read a few pages of a book.

• Be physically active to help with bowel movement.

• Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages that act as stimulants and may cause diarrhea

• Avoid artificial sweeteners. Sensitivity to sugar alcohols may cause diarrhea.

• Consume fiber-rich foods to help form stools and aid bowel movement. Gradual increase in the amount of fiber intake should be done to prevent bloating, cramping, and gas formation.

• Drink adequate water to help expand fiber in the gut. Consuming fiber and not drinking enough water will cause constipation.

• Know your body. Observe foods and factors that trigger IBS symptoms.

Furthermore, to promote digestive health, incorporate these functional foods into your diet: Prebiotics and Probiotics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible substances that are found in natural foods like onion, leeks, garlic, honey, whole grains, whole wheat foods, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and bananas.

Prebiotics promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut. Aside from promoting digestive health, prebiotics enhance calcium absorption.

On the other hand, Probiotics are “good” live bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, aged cheeses, probiotic drinks, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and soy beverages. Probiotics increases immunity as well as promote a healthy gut.

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