IBS doesn’t have to be a life sentence, as some sufferers are often told by their GP. You can find ways to enjoy the food and drink that you love, and live your life in the way of your choosing, free from the shackles of a condition which far too many people believe they have to ‘just live with’.
IBS is extraordinarily common – I have been practising natural health for over 30 years and it’s safe to say it’s the most common complaint I deal with. IBS is a complex condition as it includes a wide range of symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhoea, and reflux. People with IBS have different triggers and different symptoms. With some simple lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and supplementation, it’s possible to control the symptoms so that IBS does not become a constant health issue that hugely impacts your quality of life.
Although IBS is most common in young women, it’s being increasingly recognised in children, as well as being a common senior health issue for people in their 70s and 80s. Symptoms can come and go unpredictably, meaning that many people have IBS for a lifetime.
Both women and men can have IBS, however; women are up to two times more likely than men to develop the condition. Other factors that increase the likelihood of having IBS include having a family member with IBS, a history of stressful or difficult life events and having a severe digestive tract infection.
IBS can often cause low-grade inflammation in the gut, often not picked up in blood tests. Such inflammation puts the body under more stress as the immune system is constantly trying to heal the inflammation. This can exhaust the immune system and exhaust us, causing premature ageing.
As we age, the risk of something going wrong in the digestive system continues to rise due to the culmination of years of effects from such things as diet, lifestyle, diseases, and medications. In the elderly, new medical issues can arise, such as diverticular disease or bowel cancer, or long-standing conditions can worsen, such as IBD (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and IBS.
How to maintain digestive health as you age
- Reduce stress – seniors may be more affected by stress than younger people. Reducing stress as much as possible in daily life will also reduce IBS flare-ups.
- Exercise – mild exercise is known to improve many health issues and it will also help with IBS. Walking, yoga, and other peaceful, low-impact exercises are ideal for managing this condition.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep – the body can’t heal if it’s not getting deep sleep, the type of sleep needed to heal and repair at a cellular level.
- Diet changes – a diet free of the foods that are triggers for IBS will improve the incidence of flare-ups greatly. You can certainly control foods eaten at home, and work to manage diet when eating in other places.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do not only for healthy digestion, but also for your overall health as you age. It’s easy to pack on pounds when you overeat, especially if you’re less active than when you were younger. You can overtax your digestive system and experience heartburn symptoms by overeating or eating foods that can lead to indigestion, so keep meals reasonable in size and curb fatty foods to a minimum. Also, watch portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight.
- Drinking water and other fluids – can help ease constipation, which becomes more common as we age. Liquids and fibre make a healthy digestion combo by bulking up and softening stools so they pass more easily through the digestive tract. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; keep in mind that liquids with caffeine such as tea and coffee, have the opposite effect and can dehydrate you.
- Regular Live Bacteria supplementation – since several factors that have a detrimental impact on gut bacteria can contribute to IBS, probiotics may help to maintain healthy bacteria levels. Additionally, a study published in the Gastroenterology & Hepatology Journal noted that probiotics can improve the barrier function of the digestive tract by boosting the mucus lining. Meanwhile, another study found that the participants who consumed probiotics reported less bloating.
- Take care of your teeth – healthy digestion begins in the mouth, with your teeth. Taking good care of your teeth is important as you age because you rely on your teeth to chew your food well, and you need to chew your food well to break it down into small enough pieces to be absorbed by your body. Older people with poor teeth may have more indigestion because they can’t chew well. Brushing and flossing daily and getting regular dental check-ups can help promote a healthy mouth and healthy digestion. A set of well-fitted dentures is better than bad teeth that can’t chew properly!
- Check your medications – over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause digestive problems. Talk to your doctor about possible side effects and ask for a substitute if a medicine is causing nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, or other concerns. And make sure that you get your medications reviewed regularly. You may not need to be taking so many (or any)!
The best supplements for IBS
My tried and tested protocol for IBS, regardless of age, is to carry out my 5-day Charcoal cleanse to give the stomach and gut a ‘deep-clean’ followed by the targeted supplements in my Perfect Balance Kit designed to rebalance, heal and repair the stomach and gut. I often recommend taking the supplements in the Perfect Balance Kit to people looking to reset their gut health, be that after taking courses of antibiotics, recovering from any kind of infection or illness, or simply wanting to get their overall gut and digestive health back on track and boost their immune system.
I put this solution-based Kit together to help not only people who have IBS, but also those who struggle with chronic bloating, acid reflux, constipation, diverticular disease, to mention a few, based on my many years in clinical practice. You will not find a Kit like this on the market, which is why I developed it in the first place, putting all my years of knowledge and experience into it, after tens of thousands of people consulted me for help with their digestive and gut issues. After finishing the 30-day course of supplements in the Kit, I recommend an ongoing maintenance protocol which varies from person to person but will always include my Live Bacteria probiotic capsules and my Digestive Enzymes tablets.
If you have any questions about a digestive and gut health issue, please get in touch.