If you haven’t realized by now, I’m pretty passionate about gut health. After dealing with my own gut issues for years, I’ve done a lot of work to heal them naturally and I’m at a good place today and feel amazing almost everyday!
Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is an intestinal disorder that can cause abdominal cramps, irregular bowel movements, gas and bloating in your small intestine and large intestine. People with IBS know how debilitating and embarrassing it can be. But, sadly, the exact cause isn’t really known.
Your nervous system is on high alert because the nerves in your gut and digestive tract are more sensitive, and some things like gas can trigger extreme pain in those with IBS, while someone without IBS wouldn’t be bothered by it.
My last few years in college, plus a few after college, I was dealing with a lot of IBS symptoms, while I was never formally diagnosed, it’s was obvious that was what I was dealing with.
I’d tried probiotics, which helped a bit, but wasn’t living the healthiest lifestyle. Going out a lot, drinking multiple nights a week, eating foods that I knew would upset my stomach and not getting enough rest or exercise. When I look back at that phase of my life, I don’t know how I did it. I was literally running on fumes and pushing my body past its limits on a regular basis.
Thankfully, I finally had a wake up call that really made me think twice about how I was living, so I started making some major lifestyle and diet changes.
Today, I never get those awful IBS symptoms anymore. It didn’t go away overnight, but I’m proud that I was able to heal my gut, which in turn reversed my IBS for good!
At the end of the day, our gut health is one of the most important things in keeping us healthy. The majority of our immune system lives in our gut, and the gut is also known as the second brain, so if you’re not taking care of it, it’s time you start prioritizing it! The best thing about healing my gut was that I had all these positive side effects. All of my other weird symptoms—brain fog, chronic fatigue, breakouts, poor sleep, anxiety and more literally faded away.
So, let’s talk about how to heal IBS and boost your gut health with natural remedies!
How to Heal IBS Naturally
While I’m not against Western medicine, I have learned first hand that a pill will not cure you of IBS for good. It may mask your symptoms and make you feel better, but if you don’t fix the real issue at hand—poor gut health—those symptoms will always come back.
Before we jump in, this is not medical advice and if you are having extreme symptoms, please see a doctor!
Probiotics are so buzzy these days, but they can do wonders for improving your gut health. They add good bacteria to your gut flora and help create balance. If you have bad bacterial overgrowth, it can throw your system out of whack and a probiotic can help you find balance again.
If you’re having a lot of symptoms, I highly recommend you start with a round of this probiotic. It has 60 billion CFU (colony forming units) and packs a punch. If your gut is in distress, this will do wonders!
After a round of this, I recommend this one that’s not quite as potent, but will keep things balanced moving forward. It has more CFUs than your average drugstore probiotic.
While probiotics will definitely help ease your discomfort, they’re not a magic pill. The thing that really changed the game for me was a prebiotic. Prebiotic are a fiber supplement that feeds the good bacteria and probiotics and allow them to be more productive. A prebiotic will help establish better gut flora that lasts!
I put a scoop of this prebiotic powder in my smoothie every morning. It has completely changed my gut health in the best way possible. Do note that if you don’t currently eat much fiber, start with a little and work your way up!
Eat More Fiber
This past year, I’ve adopted a mostly plant-based diet. No rules or restrictions, I just aim to eat at least 2 plant-based meals a day. The biggest reason for it? When I eat a high fiber diet, I feel SO much better. Making one of my meals a big green smoothie, and another one a big salad with greens, chickpeas, seeds, veggies and herbs not only keeps me full, but seriously makes me feel freaking amazing!
Think about your own diet and how much fiber you’re getting in on an average day, could you use more? Most Americans don’t get enough, so make sure to add some fiber! For me, the easiest way to do this is a smoothie every morning—load it up with flax, spinach, cauliflower and chia seeds—this gut-healing smoothie one is my favorite.
Extra fiber is amazing for your gut, but if you’re not drinking enough water, it’s not going to feel good. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. My hack for getting in enough water is to drink one huge 32oz. bottle first thing in the morning. If I get that in, I’m more thirsty throughout the day and it forces me to remember to drink more!
Move your Body
If you’re feeling bloated and crampy, the last thing you want to do is go workout, but do it anyway. Nothing crazy, just a walk will do! Daily movement always boosts my energy and digestion, and good digestion is key to healing your IBS.
Get Enough Sleep
Our bodies heal while we rest, so if you’re not getting adequate sleep on a regular basis, you’re never going to feel your best. Aim to go to bed and wake up at generally the same time every night. Don’t look at your phone around bedtime, dim the lights and make sure your room is dark and cool, all these things help. And, if you’re still struggling, a magnesium supplement, dropper full of CBD oil and 1mg of melatonin always do the trick for me!
Cut out Inflammatory Foods
For me, a big one was dairy and red meat. I also admit that when I was at the peak of my worst IBS symptoms, it was in college and I now realize that drinking (a lot of) alcohol was only making things worse. I also quit caffeine and that made a big difference in my energy levels, focus and gut health.
Everyone will be different in what they can tolerate, but dairy, red meat and gluten are always good places to start. You can also look into food allergies or sensitivities as those may trigger abdominal pain.
Use Essential Oils
In clinical trials, peppermint oil has been shown to help reduce symptoms and ease discomfort. This won’t cure you of IBS, but may help with pain and cramping and ease your symptoms while you work to fix the problem at the root.
If you’ve been struggling with IBS, I hope that these tips help you on your healing journey. They’ve made a huge difference in how I feel today. I want to remind you that this is not a quick fix, rather a lifestyle change. One that will leave you feeling better, healthier, more energetic and empowered to take back your health! If you have any questions, leave them below!