Woman with stomach pain lying in bed

Digestive discomfort can include cramping, abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, gas, alternating constipation and diarrhoea or a predominance of one or the other.

There is often more than just one cause for digestive irritability. There could be anatomical problems or hypersensitivity to certain foods which can cause damage to the intestinal lining. These issues need to be assessed by a health practitioner who specializes in digestive health to be able to make the appropriate diet changes and use related beneficial nutrients for support and repair.

Day to day management

Digestive irritation may arise from a reaction to stress, affecting the nervous system and its relationship with digestive function.  Finding ways to manage the effects of stress on the body is often a good start to support a healthy functioning gut.  This means not only reducing stressors where possible, but also trying to be aware of how we react to them and how we possibly may change consciousness to the inevitable stress life brings.  Using techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, that promote relaxation and self-awareness to support a healthy stress response and ease worry, can have a positive effect on the digestive system.

One other important consideration in treating digestive discomfort is identifying and eliminating allergens or sensitivities.  An allergy or sensitivity to a food or drink or toxin excites the nervous system and has an inhibiting effect on gut action and biochemistry. Correcting this is a vital part of restoring healthy function.

Peak irritability

During an acute phase of digestive irritation, it’s best to eat relatively simple foods such as:

  • plain mashed kumara and carrots,
  • broths,
  • blended soups,
  • brown rice and
  • steamed vegetables.

It is best practice to avoid:

  • meat
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • grains
  • fermented foods
  • fried foods.

Eating a variety of different vegetables as the main part of the diet, while avoiding intake of foods that irritate the digestive tract, is a supportive approach.  Eating small meals 3 to 5 times a day rather than large portions will reduce the load on the digestive system.  It would be best to seek advice from a health professional and set up a protocol for an elimination diet and reintroduction of food and/or organizing food sensitivity testing. There is a range of supplements and nutrients which can aid a healthy digestive tract lining and environment, as well as support nutrient absorption.

Nature’s helpers:

  • Slippery elm in form of tablets or powder can be used to soothe the intestinal lining and to help with both loose or absent bowel motions.
  • Probiotics are an important factor to balance gut flora which in turn will affect a healthy gut environment and normal digestive functions.
  • Digestive enzymes may be used to help break down food and soothe digestive discomfort.
  • Aloe vera juice may be used to help to soothe symptoms of irritated intestines.
  • Research shows that herbs like Turmeric, Boswellia and ginger can help to balance gut function and support a healthy intestinal lining.
  • Peppermint oil has been used traditionally in Persian medicine to help calm and soothe discomfort while restoring healthy gut flora and functions.
  • Quercetin can assist a healthy immune response within the bowel, and can support normal digestion of irritating foods.
  • Chamomile and lemon balm are other supportive herbs for the health of the digestive system. The unique characteristics of these herbs is that they also help to balance and calm the nervous system. This is very helpful when an overactive nervous system is contributing or causing the digestive discomfort. Regular intake of cups of teas of these humble herbs may be a calming and restoring ritual that enhances both mood and gut health.
  • Zinc, especially in the form of zinc carnosine, has shown to help the integrity of the intestinal lining including normal healthy production of protective mucous in the gut. Individuals who suffer from digestive discomfort and imbalances have been shown to often be lacking in this mineral.

Imbalanced gut function and malabsorption can contribute to nutrient deficiencies. Considering supplementation is a good option. These could include B-vitamins, especially vitamin B12 and a multi-mineral.

To support repair at a cellular level it might be beneficial to consider the use of ionized mineral drops which can be added to drinking water and consumed throughout the day for mineral balance. Minerals in this form are very small in size, and so absorption in to the bloodstream is a lot easier.

Feel free to let us know what helped you most when experiencing gut discomfort.

HealthPost offers a wide range of products to support management of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. These are available for secure shopping from our online shop.

We’d Love Your Feedback