Many people complain of tummy distress, in fact approximately 19.1% of Australian adults report reactions to certain foods. Irritable bowel syndrome, with tummy distress, bowel spasm and acute pain, effects around 6% of population, is even more distressing. About 1/3 of our entire National Government expenditure is on drugs we group as antacids, yet this has not solved the pain and suffering!
Avoiding problem foods sounds smart, but the bigger question is: “Why is our digestion so poor nowadays and how should we improve it?
Traditional medicine has 4 strategies that I have had great results with.
- Consider pre biotic foods, that is, foods that help feed good bacteria in the stomach. The best prebiotic food in my experience is Rolled Flaxseeds. For thousands of years it’s been sold as a medicine, it’s a great source of fibre and reduces bowel, breast and prostate cancer risk in studies. In addition it contains omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and by swelling considerably in the tummy it improves both diarrhoea and constipation. A local farmer grows and rolls them for us.
- Probiotics are the modern name for good “bacteria”. Probiotics help us digest our food, and the strain known as LGG is excellent for inflammation of the stomach, improve digestions and encourages good bacteria to grow. You can buy these from us and a good brand is IBS support ®. Probiotic foods include Yogurt, Kefir, cheese, sauerkraut and kombucha which are becoming very trendy in dietary magazines even though they’re thousands of years old too!
- Beef broth is my next suggestion, again an idea from the past, and the 11th Century sage “Hildegaard of Bingen” was very keen on this. Beef soup is made by boiling beef bones for many hours, and modern studies show some amazing benefits. The major ingredients are glucosamino-glycans or glucosamine and chondroitin for short. They supply the major nutrients needed to restore the stomach lining, which requires daily attention, and in fact, is referred to as “leaking” is studies on irritable bowel syndrome. Beef broth has a major repair function in the body and also restores cartilage in joints (a recent retrospective study showed it reduced the need for knee replacement by 40%).
- Herbs are my 4th strong recommendation for IBS treatment. Studies show major improvement to IBS symptoms with herbs and also confirm there is no drug that improves IBS symptoms. A herb combination known as “iberogast” ® has been used successfully in German trials, but UWS studies showed that the best herb combinations were those formulated specifically for the patient, and this makes sense when we see the wide variation in symptoms of IBS in each individual patient. Everyone involved in the UWS trial was surprised by the result except for the Chinese doctors, who said herbs were the standard digestion treatment in China.
Dip. Botanical Medcine, MHM (Hons)
B. Pharm., TH, A, M.P.S. Grad. Dip. Nutrition