This week’s blog is step one in paying attention to the factors that can impact your gut health in order to improve challenges you may be experiencing. One helpful way to do this is by using a FOOD/MOOD/BOWEL MOVEMENT journal - you will find one below that you can print and use. Again, this is not to replace a doctor’s visit if you are experiencing pain and related GI issues. This is work you can do to help yourself on top of any medical advice you have been seeking. Also keep in mind to watch any foods have been restricted due to different GI issues like diverticulitis, celiac, IBD, colitis and so on.

The world of gut challenges can be confusing. Doctors look at the symptoms in order to put them into a tidy box so we can give the problem a name and decide what to do next. Sometimes, however, the name we give it is just a way of saying, we don’t know, so let’s put it in “this” box. That can be the case with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It is often the diagnosis after everything else has been ruled out, but pain and issues still exist.

In doing some reading on the Mayo clinic website and other respected health providers, it’s indicated that IBS is the most diagnosed gut issue. Approximately 20% of the population in North America has this diagnosis, but not everyone who has symptoms goes to the doctor about it, so it is likely much higher. My experience with clients has been there are many people suffering with gut issues and many do it in silence.

If you have pain, cramping, mucous, constipation, diarrhea, and so on, and maybe you have ruled out specific gut issues based lab tests, but you are still left with the symptoms. Getting to the root cause to correct those symptoms is an important plan, regardless of what it is called. I know of many people who are celiac and know to keep away from gluten. However, many, myself included, test negative for celiac, but I certainly feel the effects if gluten is consumed. So I use that as my personal guideline - if it hurts, avoid it. Of course, I’m not always perfect on that, but it’s been a better life for me since I have figured out that issue, even though the tests say it is fine.

Keep in mind that each of us is very different in terms of what can irritate our systems and how sensitive we may be to certain aspects of our lifestyles. Factoring in that stress, sleep, environment, allergies, weak digestion, parasites, bacteria, mould and toxins are just as important as the impact the foods we eat as to how we feel. There is a number of factors. Let’s narrow down the playing field and just focus on the quality of the foods we eat to start with, as that is often a big part of the puzzle.

If you have gut issues that last more than 2 days a month, my suggestion would be to start the above mentioned FOOD/MOOD/BOWEL MOVEMENT journal.  The first step in finding a solution is to looking at what all can be involved. List details of what is consumed (food, drinks, supplements, meds, etc), and pay attention to how your body is reacting and feeling by writing out as much as you can and when you start to notice the reactions and how they changed over time.

Please see the attached FOOD/MOOD/BOWEL MOVEMENT journal to see if you can find a link to your symptoms. A nutritionist can help if you are not getting the results you are looking for. Digestion and GI function is a key to health, make sure yours is working the best it can!

Next week we go over how to look at this food journal to help you have ideas on what to do.

Have a great week.

Lisa Aschenbrenner, RHN - Registered Holistic Nutritionist 

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