When most people think IBS symptom management, their first thought is diet and being a dietitian, that is obviously my first recommendation. But IBS is much more complicated, and diet is just one factors in healing. Meditation for IBS symptom relief has been studied and found to be a great alternative to the conventional IBS treatments.
Following the low FODMAP diet has shown positive results in many people suffering from IBS and is an effective approach to identifying foods that may cause triggers such as diarrhea, bloating, and consipation.
Approximately 50-70% of individuals who complete both the elimination and reintroduction phase, can find relief or improvements in their symptoms.
But what if you are following all the diet rules only to have the bloating, constipation, and diarrhea come back? It can be super frustrating to many people and can cause them to give up hope.
Stress is a term that is used to describe normal responses in the body. It can be physical (operation, virus, infection) or psychological (losing your job, financial struggles). It is also categorized as acute (short term) or chronic (long term, longer than 3 months).
Picture yourself sitting in traffic and someone cuts you off. Immediately your body starts to tense up, your heart might be racing, and your blood pressure could rise.
Your body is designed to handle acute stress. This is known as the fight or flight response – a life-saving mechanism that responds to danger and stressors. For most people, these responses typically revert back to a normal state quickly and does not cause permanent damage to your body.
Chronic stress on the other hand, such as consistent stress at work, chronic disease, or financial struggles can do much more harm.
Your body does not respond well to chronic stress. Eventually, chronic stress makes your body work overtime at rest to keep it functioning normally.
Chronic stress has been shown to be associated with increased prevalence of medical conditions such as:
IBS can result from a complex interaction between your gut and your brain, known as the brain-gut axis. It can lead to a heightened sensitivity and can increase motility in the gut.
Chronic stress has been shown to weaken the gut lining, cause inflammation, and reduce intestinal blood flow. It can also be linked to dysbiosis of gut microbiota, which can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), weight gain, depression, and brain fog.
Meditation can encourage the production of beneficial bacteria in your gut which increases the production of neurotransmitters.
Approximately 95% of the neurotransmitter serotonin can actually be found in the gut. Serotonin is the main neurotransmitter that affects mood and anxiety. Therefore, the more serotonin that you body can produce, the better your mood and the less stress that you have.
Mindful meditation methods can activate the “rest and digest” response in your body.
Many of us are used to a fast-paced lifestyle. In turn, this can lead to increased eating rates and over-consumption. Practicing mindful eating habits can slow the rate of eating and therefore allows your body to catch up to your brain and receive the signal that you are full. Slower eating rates can also lead to decreased consumption of air, lowering your chance of having bloating or gas.
Meditation with a compassion focus can enhance the function of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the connection between the gut and the brain. It works with your gut microbiome to promote gut-brain communication. Therefore, this decreases stress and improves IBS symptoms.
Although I believe that diet is a crucial component to gut health, it is also important to be able to identify other factors that could be contributing to your symptoms. Click here to learn more about gut healing or sign up for a free clarity call!
April 22, 2020