|Winter Healthy News
As we move newly into 2012, many of us may be feeling the after-effects of a holiday-rich diet. Many of the very foods such as caffeine, sugar and dairy that are so rich for our souls become so challenging for our insides, especially in the “ample amounts” and “creative combinations” that we Americans eat our foods. Compound this with the environmental, occupational and stresses of humans living in our world today and the body now has a significant source of stress and irritation. The result may be many of the common intestinal symptoms – gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as many other sneaky symptoms – fatigue, joint pain, irritability, or even depression.
Let’s looks closer at one of the most common intestinal complaints, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is a very common disorder that may cause significant discomfort, even though it is not a serious health threat. Typical symptoms include those digestive issues listed above. As well, people with IBS are more likely than others to have backaches, fatigue, and several other seemingly unrelated problems. They may be on fiber supplements or laxatives because of constipation, or require drugs to control diarrhea by slowing the movement of food through the digestive system. They may even be on antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs.
Here are a few key considerations to find digestive balance:
- Chew, sit down and eat slowly.
- Drink liquids away from meals to keep stomach acid from being diluted.
- Minimize problem foods – The usual suspects are dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beans (legumes), and caffeine. It’s usually not about stopping the foods altogether, it’s more about taking care of yourself 80-90% of the time. That said, some studies find that most people who suffer from IBS have food sensitivities and that gas production that stop when these foods are identified and avoided altogether. A simple way to identify problem foods is to eliminate it for 2-3 weeks, or until symptoms improve. Since the body then becomes more sensitive to the food when reintroduced, this tool lets you know with a high degree of certainty which foods are problem foods.
- Restrict sugar intake: Some people with IBS cannot efficiently absorb the sugars lactose (as found in milk), fructose (as found in high concentration in fruit juice and dried fruit), and sorbitol (as found in some dietetic candy). It is likely that glucose and sucrose, common sugars in the American diet are also contributing factors. Sometimes lactase and other digestive enzymes can be helpful when eating dairy products.
- Reduce stress: In one study, psychotherapy and relaxation combined with conventional treatment were more effective than conventional treatment alone in two-thirds of people with IBS.
- Do a yearly internal cleanse – Internal cleansing takes on a variety of forms, but always allows the intestines and body a chance to rest and recover. Curiously, we Americans expend much time and energy on the cleanliness and appearance of our external selves, but how often do we give the liver, the primary organ of detoxification, or our intestines a chance to cleanse and clear? This may be the first time you have even considered an internal cleanse, which can be of significant benefit to not only our intestinal health, but as a balance to body, mind and spirit alike.
Key herbs to consider:
Caraway oil (Carum carvi): Many people see a significant reduction in IBS symptoms in a double-blind trial, using enteric-coated capsules of this herb.
Psyllium (Plantago ovata) seeds or husk.Some people with IBS may benefit from bulk-forming laxatives. Psyllium has improved some symptoms of IBS in double-blind trials.
Other herbs that may be helpful:
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Enteric-coated peppermint oil has relieved symptoms of IBS in double-blind research. The enteric process also reduces the risk of heartburn from peppermint. In the intestinal tract, peppermint oil reduces gas production, eases intestinal cramping, and soothes irritation. Pure food-grade essential oil of peppermint is extremely strong and must never be consumed in amounts greater than 1–2 drops at a time.
Other health recommendations will depend on your individual needs, but given the proper love and attention with a tailor-made approach to health, our intestines and our entire body-mind-spirit can experience vibrant health.
Yours in health,
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Steam this simple and delicious kale in the winter to support liver function. It makes a very nice side dish.
1 bunch fresh kale, any variety
1 tbsp Toasted sesame Oil
2 tsp Ume Plum Vinegar
1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
Steam fresh kale for 2-3 mins, to desired tenderness. Add all ingredients and toss. Serve warm.
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