February 10, 2016 ~ Scroll down for full newsletter or follow the links:
Ask Heather » The 5 Constipation Frustrations - Part One!
IBS Recipe » Probiotic Cocoa Banana Smoothie
Special Letter » Dreading to Leave the House, Now IBS Accident-Free!
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Probiotic Chocolate Banana SmoothieThis IBS-friendly smoothie is a delicious way to get prebiotics, probiotics, and soluble fiber all at once! Unsweetened baking cocoa is a great IBS-safe way to have dark chocolate, as the fat and caffeine have been removed. Enjoy this rich, sweet smoothie for breakfast, snacks, and even dessert!
Makes 2 Servings (easily doubled)
2/3 c. vanilla soy or rice yogurt with live cultures (probiotics!)
2 teaspoons Acacia Tummy Fiber (a prebiotic!)
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey's baking cocoa)
2 medium firm-ripe bananas
Throw all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until very smooth. Serve immediately.
Are you just learning how to eat for IBS? A little intimidated at the thought of special IBS recipes? Not quite sure just what makes these recipes special in the first place? Don't worry! Get Eating for IBS and find the answers to all your questions.
~ Heather's Tummy Fiber ~
I must tell you that my husband has been suffering from IBS for quite a while. His doc, of course, gave him a prescription that simply didn't work.
About two years ago I decided that he was not the only one afflicted with this condition and went on the Internet to try to find help, as I was very worried about him. It had gotten so bad that he dreaded having to leave the house.
I stumbled on your website and ordered the peppermint oil caps, the Tummy Fiber and one of the teas (forgot which one).
Within one week, he was almost accident free, with three weeks, he was totally accident free.
Flare ups still occur, but they are more like 3-4 times a year instead of 3-4 times a week, and the quality of his life is greatly improved. Oh yes...he stopped taking the prescription med on his own.
Thank you so much. Your products have given him a new lease on life.
Please feel free to use my review any way you wish. I really want people to know there is a place to go for help, especially when the docs don't listen.
Thank you so much, Marianne!! ~ Heather
~ Heather's Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Capsules ~
"What if you think you're doing everything you're supposed to do for constipation, but nothing is working?!"
Well, first of all, take a deep breath, relax, and realize that you're not all alone here - and you're definitely not helpless, even if it sometimes feels that way. Constipation tends to be one of the more frustrating IBS symptoms, and it does take longer to resolve through lifestyle changes than diarrhea. But - there are many, many ways to help alleviate constipation successfully, it just takes a little patience and persistence.
What's the best way to take control of IBS constipation? Just make sure you avoid The Five Constipation Frustrations. We'll tackle the first two this week:
1. Soluble Fiber Supplements Are Overnight Wonder Drugs, Right?
Soluble fiber supplements (like Acacia Tummy Fiber) can work wonders for constipation, yes. But they are NOT an overnight solution, and they're definitely not drugs. It makes a great deal of difference how you take a soluble fiber supplement, and it's well worth the time and effort to do it right. (Here's a great resource page about soluble fiber supplements if this is all brand new territory for you.)
First of all, these are the best ways to NOT get the results you want from a soluble fiber supplement:
* Try one at a low dose for a few days, then give up because there's no change.
* Go from zero to the maximum dose in one week flat, then give up because it's not working and now you're all bloated and gassy as well.
* Start taking one at the same time you stop taking laxatives, enemas, or colon cleanses you've been using regularly, then give up because your constipation is suddenly worse, not better.
The cardinal rule with a soluble fiber supplement (SFS) is to start at a low dose (for Acacia Tummy Fiber, just 1/2 a level measuring teaspoon, twice daily), and increase gradually.
Constipation often requires a much higher daily dose of a SFS than diarrhea, and it can take several weeks, or even a few months, to slowly work your way up to the maximum daily dose. SFS are not laxatives, and they will not give "overnight relief", so taking a low dose of one for a few days will not alleviate your symptoms. What it will do is begin to acclimate your gut to a higher daily dose of fiber, and this is the goal. Don't give up as soon as you start - just realize that using a SFS is a slow, steady process. You will see improvements along the way.
It's tempting to think that if you need to reach the maximum dose to see the best results, you can just force your body to adjust to a high dose as fast as possible. After all, if your constipation will resolve on a SFS dose of, say, 25 grams a day, and it might typically take someone, say, 8 weeks to reach that dose, you'll be way ahead of the game if you race your way up to that dose in your very first week - right? Nope - wrong.
By definition, if you have IBS, you do not have a normally functioning gut. No matter how your IBS symptoms manifest (constipation or diarrhea, bloating or pain) your GI tract - and specifically, your gastrocolic reflex - is hyper-reactive to normal stimuli. Your goal should always be to keep your gastrocolic reflex stable so you can soothe and regulate your gut function.
Suddenly overloading your bowel with a fiber dose that is possibly ten times what you were taking before you started a SFS will do nothing but give you bloating and gas, as your GI tract struggles to deal with all of this unexpected fiber. Fiber is, after all, indigestible, and your body needs to work to process it through your digestive tract.
Asking your gut to go from no soluble fiber supplement to a maximum daily dose too quickly is like trying to become a marathon runner by sprinting as hard and as fast as you can without rest. It won't work, you'll be frustrated, and you'll give up.
Instead, go slowly, increase your dose gradually, and give your body the time and gentle approach it needs to adjust to the SFS increase. You can't beat your colon into submission with IBS, you need to kindly, patiently, and consistently coax it into normal motility. A SFS can help do this for you if you give it a fair chance.
If you've been regularly using laxatives, or artificially increasing colon motility through other means (enemas, colon cleanses, harsh stimulant herbs such as senna, cascara, aloe) the odds are pretty good that your bowel is dependent on them. If you suddenly stop using them, bowel motility might shut down and your constipation will seriously worsen. This would be the case even if you didn't add a SFS at the same time.
It is definitely possible to transition from a laxative or other unnatural methods of alleviating constipation to a soluble fiber supplement. But, you can't simply switch from one to the other in a single day and expect equivalent results. What you can do is keep taking your usual dose of laxatives while you begin your SFS and start to gradually increase your SFS dose. When you've been able to reach a fairly high daily dose (say, 2-3 tablespoons of the Tummy Fiber) you can start to gradually decrease your laxative.
Keep increasing the SFS and continue decreasing your laxative, taking each step slowly and carefully. This is not likely to be a fast process, but the slower and steadier you go the more likely it is to have a highly successful result.
I've heard from numerous people who transitioned off of laxatives, senna, enemas, and even prescription constipation drugs and onto a soluble fiber supplement, with terrific results. But it took anywhere from one to six months, depending on how long their bowels had been dependent on the laxatives. Good things can be well worth the wait, and this is one of those situations where patience is truly a virtue. IBS is a lifelong problem for most people, so giving yourself a few months to make a tremendous improvement is not really taking too much time in the grand scheme of things.
2. Insoluble Fiber Foods Are IBS Triggers, So I Won't Eat Any!
The second of our Five Constipation Frustrations is another example of how taking something to an extreme, instead of in moderation, can make IBS worse instead of better.
Insoluble fiber foods (like bran, raw fibrous veggies, salad greens, unpeeled fruits) are very powerful GI tract stimulants, and for those of us with over-reactive guts due to IBS they can spell big trouble. For people with normal bowel function, insoluble fiber can relieve constipation and poses no problems.
For constipation from IBS, however, insoluble fiber can trigger violent GI spasms that are very painful. Additionally, these spasms can actually seize up the colon muscles in a type of "charley horse", which results in slower (or no) bowel motility and worsens constipation.
For this reason, insoluble fiber needs to be treated with care. Here's the catch. For general good health, and for healthy bowel function overall, insoluble fiber foods need to be eaten as generously and as frequently as possible. While you can break the cycle of IBS attacks by eating nothing but soluble fiber foods for a few days, this is a short-term approach to simply calming your gut and the spasms.
Once you've stabilized, you cannot simply continue to eliminate insoluble fiber foods from your diet on a daily basis. This is a mistake made by many people who glance over the insoluble fiber cautions without taking the time to read the information thoroughly and to follow recipes that exemplify the diet (all of which safely add insoluble fiber foods to a soluble fiber foundation).
For people with IBS, and especially IBS constipation, insoluble fiber foods require a balancing act. I really can't emphasize strongly enough that they cannot be avoided altogether. They are potential triggers, but you must eat them, and if you do so carefully, according to the Eating for IBS guidelines, you should be able to incorporate a wide variety of insoluble fiber foods into your daily diet.
Take this approach slowly and cautiously, but do take it. If you simply avoid all insoluble fiber foods completely you will worsen your constipation in the long-term. By adding it gradually, safely, and in slowly increasing amounts, you'll help alleviate constipation while still keeping your gut calm and bowel motility stable. As always with IBS, avoid going to extremes, be kind and considerate to your GI tract, and it will be much more likely to return the favor to you.
Next Time ~ The Rest of Our Five Constipation Frustrations!
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