Integrative Medicine Blog

GUT Instincts

Holly J. Niles MS, CNS, LDN Sunday, April 08, 2018
Istock-gut instinct

Mindful eating can often help with irritable bowel syndrome.

There is an epidemic of digestive imbalances that I see in my practice ranging from GERD, bloating and the larger category of IBS. IBS or irritable bowel syndrome diagnosis is like a big bucket that that holds many digestive imbalances that are not easily explained or improved. The body has clear and amazing ways of communicating with us and sometimes we need to learn how to read those messages. Our GUT is the seat of our immune system and as well as a reflection of digestion so it’s important to pay attention to digestive issues. Functional Medicine’s philosophy always starts with looking at the gut no matter how the body is out of balance. The good news about digestive imbalances is that diet is a very powerful tool to improve symptoms. The personalized approach of getting an up-close view of what patients are eating has allowed me to work very successfully with many suffering with IBS. My strategy is to create therapeutic changes utilizing the diet as a tool for healing as well supplementation and lifestyle modification. It’s amazing to see that simply changing/eliminating certain foods can make a huge difference in digestive symptoms.

On the next level, we know that looking at not only what we eat but also when we eat and how we eat unlocks many other digestive clues. For example, do you ever notice how you eat? A client recently reported that she eats so fast that she doesn’t remember what or how much or what she ate - others eat at their desks while answering emails for work and lastly the most common- eating in front of the TV. Of course, the body can’t digest properly under those circumstance - it’s not a mystery. You might recognize yourself here in that list and see how busyness affects how you eat and ultimately your digestion. Slowing down and chewing, putting the fork down and paying mindful attention to your food are simple, but not always easy, ways to digest your food. Try the exercise below!

HOW you eat challenge:

Challenge yourself to test the power of chewing. Start small with a meal or snack and give yourself 10 minutes (set a timer - you will be surprised how long 10 minutes is for eating) of undivided attention to eat. Notice your food, smell your food and chew your food. You might want to count your chews and aim for 20-30 per bite. Notice how the food changes in texture and flavor.

IBS can feel very challenging and hard to solve but a Functional Medicine approach takes the time to get to the root of the problem and create effective strategies to feel better!