CAT | Fish Oils
Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 25 and 45 million Americans every day. Although its cause is still unknown, many experts believe the symptoms of IBS—which include abdominal pain and bloating along with diarrhea, constipation or both—are closely linked to the interaction between the gut, brain, and central nervous system. (It’s possible the nerves along the gut alter normal pain perception so that the bowel becomes oversensitive to normal stimuli.)
Most IBS sufferers are adults, and 2 in every 3 are female, but the disorder can affect all people of all ages. Still, few people seek treatment from a doctor for their symptoms, and as a result many cases of IBS remain undiagnosed. If you or someone you know is living with IBS, here are 9 natural solutions to help you take the first steps toward better bowel health.
- Add More Fiber. In addition to its role in heart health and weight management, fiber supports healthy digestive function by helping to absorb and eliminate toxins in the colon that may contribute to IBS symptoms.
- Limit Fatty Foods. Eating foods that are high in fat such as fried foods and certain meats may contribute to IBS. Be sure to consume these types of foods in moderation.
- Cut Back on Caffeine. Highly caffeinated foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.
- Avoid Foods High in Sulfur. Some foods that are healthy—including vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions and broccoli—are high in sulfur and may actually trigger IBS symptoms. Opt for low-sulfur veggies such as carrots or green beans.
- You May Have a Food Sensitivity. Some people have IBS because they are dealing with an underlying food sensitivity. Gluten and dairy are the two most common foods to which a sensitivity may develop. A gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet, or both can help to improve IBS symptoms in these people.
- Show Your Digestive Tract a Little TLC. Many herbs and nutraceuticals such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, and the amino acid L-glutamine can help nourish and soothe the intestinal tract and bowel.
- Balance with Probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the gut that work to maintain a balanced internal environment and promote optimal digestion and immune health.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces every day) will help flush out toxins and other harmful microbes that may be causing IBS symptoms.
- Try Colon Hydrotherapy. IBS sufferers—especially those with severe symptoms—may find that natural colon hydrotherapy can help cleanse the system and improve digestive health and elimination.
Check it Out: A New IBS Information App!
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), responsible for establishing IBS Awareness Month more than a decade ago, just launched a new mobile app to help people learn more about IBS, its symptoms and treatment options. The free app is called IBS Info and offers real-time information from experts in the gastrointestinal field to promote awareness and education about irritable bowel syndrome. It is currently available for use on iOS and Android platforms.
According to a 2014 National Sleep Foundation Poll, many kids in the United States are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night—which the National Institutes of Health say should be around 10 hours nightly for school-age children. But what if helping our little ones catch more shuteye were as simple as adding a daily fish oil supplement to their diet?
A recent study out of Oxford University examined the effects of Omega-3 DHA supplementation (600 mg daily) on more than 350 children ages 7 to 9, about 40 percent of whom suffered from regular sleep disturbances. Results of the 16-week study, slated to be published in an upcoming Journal of Sleep Research, revealed that the kids who received the Omega-3s as opposed to a placebo slept about an hour longer each night and had fewer waking episodes. Professor Paul Montgomery, lead author of the study, believes he knows why.
“Various substances made within the body from Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep,” said Montgomery. “For example, lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, and that would fit with our finding that sleep problems are greater in children with lower levels of DHA in their blood.”
DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid found abundantly in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. In previous studies DHA has been linked to better sleep quality in children, as well as improvements in thinking and behavior. However, because getting children to each fish can sometimes be a challenge for parents, supplementation is often a beneficial alternative.
Says co-investigator Dr. Alex Richardson, “…this randomized controlled trial does suggest that children’s sleep can be improved by DHA supplements and indicates yet another benefit of higher levels of Omega-3 in the diet.”