Chances are you have IBS, or you'll know someone who suffers with the condition. Unfortunately, the question 'what is IBS?' doesn't have a simple answer.
Although it sounds like it, IBS (which stands for irritable bowel syndrome) isn't a condition of itself. It's more of an umbrella term which encompasses a variety of health issues affecting the digestive system, notably the intestines. This means that the symptoms and experiences will be different for everyone. It also means that the causes vary too.
IBS is essentially a generic medical term that groups together a variety of health symptoms including; bloating, gas, painful cramps, inflammation, changes in bowel movements, slow digestion and reflux. However, it's safe to say that in all cases there is an imbalance in the digestive system and we know that a huge part of this, which is often overlooked, is the state of your gut microbiome.
Never has the term 'listen to your gut' been so apt! These symptoms are all ways of your body telling you to rebalance your system. The interesting thing about IBS is that despite what you may think, it's not entirely a physical condition, it's emotionally driven too. It might not even be fair to make the distinction between the two when so much more is understood - and scientifically proven - linking the health of the mind and body, and how deeply interconnected our whole human system is.
This is why it's important, and we think incredibly encouraging, to know that as individuals we can take responsibility for our own health. For all it's impressive advances, the modern medical world often focuses largely, if not entirely, on the physical body and symptoms which Doctors frequently treat with a compartmentalised approach. But often conditions like IBS are nuanced, meaning you have far more responsibility than you might think about how you can manage and heal it yourself - because nobody else is an expert in you.
Everyone's healing is different, and there'll likely be a frustrating period of trial and error with nutritional and lifestyle changes to see what impacts your system. However, a key baseline underpinning all of that is gently rebalancing the gut microbiome with pre and probiotics. Our nutritionist here at Microbz, Zara, comments;
'Probiotics like microbz have adaptogenic properties, meaning they will meet you where you are and work to create balance in the body. Rather than a medication which has a blanket approach, adding in live beneficial microbes and completely natural ingredients including herbs and minerals, means they can work together to boost what needs boosting, and balance what needs to be balanced - gently and completely uniquely to the person taking them.
Both the microbes and the body have a natural intelligence to foster the conditions for healthy life. With a probiotic like microbz we are giving the body everything it needs to rebalance and letting the intelligence of the body decide what it needs and what to let go of.'
So what are some of the more holistic things that you can take, do, avoid, and factor into your life to combat the negative symptoms of IBS? The good news is, they are all simple. The sticking point is that it's not a one-hit easy approach. Like anything else we know to be associated with a happy healthy life: it takes making a series of continuous, consistent good choices.
'We need to look after our gut microbes so that they can look after us and we do that by drinking quality well filtered water, love, care, attention, sleep, eating the right food for you, having time in nature and re-evaluating our life to lower stress levels.'
The fact is that, until things are rebalanced, your symptoms may be just way too impactful to your life to take a slower steadier approach. Oftentimes people will combine a more immediate medical approach with a longer-term commitment to lifestyle changes. Your doctor will likely give you an anti-inflammatory and / or an anti-acid. Both of which impact the body and the microbiome negatively.
'The anti-acid can stop the body being able to absorb minerals which are important for gut balance and regulation and the anti-inflammatory damages the gut lining and can kill off the beneficial bacteria. If you're taking them, you can start taking the microbz probiotic, just don't take it at the same time of day.'
Unfortunately treating IBS isn't a straight-forward process but be encouraged that by focusing on gentle and consistent rebalancing of your microbiome and making healthy decisions each day the effects can be transformational. You can boost your gut microbiome, and consequently your overall health by focusing on these simple things:
Time connecting to nature
High quality food and water
Reducing stress levels
Listening to your body
Getting enough quality rest/sleep
Limiting exposure to toxins
Taking a live, good quality probiotic like microbz