Never mind the January blues, what about the January Poos!

I always say that I have a cast-iron digestive constitution.  I think I get it from Gran on my mum’s side of our family.  She had a very good appetite, often saying how she ‘lived to eat’. Gran was the gregarious one, a larger than life character – quite different to my quiet coal miner Grandad, and she made the most delicious Sunday roasts, mouth-watering casseroles and pastry to die for.  She cooked everything from scratch for her entire life.  I think the secret to her good gut health and her overall strong health was her good diet and her attitude to life.  I like to think I am a similar type to Gran.

The month of December can be a challenge, even for those of us with the most robust digestive system and gut, and that includes me. And it’s not just the excess of food and alcohol that our poor tummies have to cope with during the festive season, but the stress of getting organised for Christmas – shopping for presents and food, cleaning the house from top to bottom and trimming up. With so much to do, so many expectations to meet, it’s no surprise that the stress can give rise to a flare-up of IBS symptoms, including diarrhoea, constipation and the dreaded painful bloating.

Last December, my husband, Kevin and I did something different, something we’d never done before. We went away just before Christmas, for two nights only and stopped in a lovely hotel in the middle of Derbyshire.  It had been a very busy time, so we just made a last minute decision to get away for a couple of nights, coming back on Christmas Eve.  It was the best thing we did – we actually managed to wind down.  We went to the famous Chatsworth Farm Shop and got some goodies for Christmas, and we spent one of the nights in a country pub, tucked down a very dark windy lane, where we had some delicious pub food, and then listened to the artiste performing that evening.

I run a busy IBS, digestive health and gut disorders clinic, as well as my Just For Tummies supplement business, and January is by far my busiest month.  I’m inundated with enquiries about colon hydrotherapy treatments from people who have eaten and drunk too much, and want to detox their bowel, to those who are experiencing a seriously bad flare-up of their IBS symptoms, as well as people who are chronically constipated because they’ve overdone it on their consumption of gluten and dairy, causing transit time in their bowel to slow right down.

I do a lot of this in my digestive health clinic, particularly during the months of January and February – palpating painful bloated bellies. I can determine if the intestines are bloated and inflamed, constipated and full of trapped gas. Treatment will then consist of colon hydrotherapy to evacuate gases and trapped solid wastes, as well as relaxing a tight, spasmed and painful bowel, giving much welcome relief.

No matter what the symptoms, be it an IBS flare-up, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, my advice is almost always the same when it comes to addressing dietary issues.  First and foremost, temporarily remove one of the most common digestive irritants – gluten.  Gluten is a difficult protein for some digestive systems to break down, and can cause irritation in the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to excessive painful trapped gases and an episode of either diarrhoea or constipation.  Gluten also has the capacity to ‘dissolve’ zonulin, the ‘glue’ that holds the villi together in the small intestine, and this can lead to issues with ‘leaky’ gut. I would also advise to cut right back on processed sugar, in fact, eliminate all processed food if practically possible.  I know it’s not always easy, and when you’ve been out at work all day and you don’t get home until late, the last thing you want to do is to start cooking a meal, but I don’t think it’s too difficult to cut out gluten and try gluten-free alternatives, and to reduce processed sugar.

I would also recommend trying to go plant-based for January.  Kevin’s Christmas present from me this year was six vegan cookery lessons.  He was as pleased as punch.  After speaking at a cancer charity last October, and sampling their delicious vegan lunch, Kevin and I bought the charity’s vegan cookbook, and have been having the most delicious plant-based meals since.  I’m not sure that we will ever completely give up animal protein, but we are thoroughly enjoying the vegan recipes in ‘Healing Deliciously’ so until we get fed up of plants, we will continue.  It certainly has given us a boost in energy, as well as helping us to lose a few pounds.

When it comes to the natural supplements I would recommend to help reduce the above symptoms, whether it be bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, the first one would be my Live Bacteria probiotic capsules – take one twice daily before meals to help regularise bowel movements and reduce bloating.  Secondly, and certainly if you are over the age of 45 and suffer with bloating and discomfort after meals, I would recommend that you take one of my plant-based Digestive Enzyme tablets before lunch and one before dinner in the evening.  These will reduce the uncomfortable bloating, as well as ensure that you are absorbing nutrients from your food.  Finally, anyone suffering with IBS, where they get regular painful bloating, needs to take an Omega 3 fish oil capsule daily with a meal.  Our consumption of oily fish has declined by a whopping 60% in the past ten years.  Omega 3s are essential to life and are a natural anti-inflammatory, so crucial for gut health.  Regular bloating is a sign of low-grade intestinal inflammation.  We can’t manufacture Omega 3s ourselves, so if we are not eating oily fish such as herrings, sardines, mackerel, tuna and salmon twice weekly, then it’s important to supplement with a fish oil capsule.  All Just For Tummies supplements can be purchased here: Just For Tummies

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I hope my tips help you sort out any badly behaving tummies and get you back on track.  If you would like to contact me personally for advice, then please do so:  Sometimes it’s just one or two simple tweaks needed to effect a positive change.