How this one exercise helps my IBS in a few minutes a day.

Spoiler: Kettlebell swings DRAMATICALLY helped my IBS!

Exercise constipation diarrhea kettlebell swingsI’ve been writing about IBS for years, and this exercise has helped my IBS more than almost anything else.

Once I got rid of my IBS food triggers, I found some small things that helped, but NOTHING like what has happened since I started kettlebell swings.

I went from loose stools and diarrhea, constipation and gas to having mostly regular bowel movements in less than 2 weeks! I don’t want to give you false hope here, but this is what happened to me.

What are kettlebells and how does this exercise help IBS?

A kettlebell looks kind of like a cannonball with a handle. The most commonly used one is cast iron.

They originated in Russia a few centuries ago, and people have used them to build great, all-over strength, and amazing cardio.Some of the old “Strong Men” are shown lifting them in old ads and postcards.

Kettlebells  became really popular in many parts of the world over the last 10 years or so because they can do amazing things for your body in general.

One of the foundation exercises is the “kettlebell swing”.  I never expected to see such great improvements in my bowel movements and IBS symptoms from this one exercise.

So how does this exercise help IBS? Sure it works your outside muscles, BUT It works out your insides like nothing else I know of.

First here’s a little background on my quest for an exercise that helps IBS:

My doctor recommended exercise for IBS but…

I saw my regular doctor and a gastroenterologist for years, and got all the tests (except for a food elimination diet which I believe is critical).

Scopes and cameras where the sun doesn’t shine, blood tests and all that, all kinds of questionnaires and family histories.

Next came the recommendations that my IBS must be cause by stress, or depression or something, so they sent me to a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist.

Queue second opinion.

But I’m not going to lie. Psychotherapy helped my life. I was a bundle of stress, and learning to live less stressfully has been really good for me.

But it didn’t cure my IBS.

Finally my gastroenterologist literally THREW UP HIS HANDS, and said “I don’t know what could be causing this”. That was a bit of a shock but I appreciated his honesty.

His last bit of wisdom was “Make sure you get at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 to 5 times a week.” He told me that cardio excercise helps peristalsis, the squeezing motion that moves food through your bowels.

He didn’t even say what kind of exercise though!

Exercises that helped my IBS a little:

So I figured that I’d try doing lots of walking. The treadmill didn’t help my IBS at all.

Next I tried sit-ups and crunches. These exercises helped my IBS a lot. Particularly the constipation. It didn’t do much for my loose stool or gas though. It was also remarkably boring, and I had to do a LOT of them to get results.

Regular weight lifting seemed to help very little. I know it’s not cardio but I had the equipment, and knew how to use it so I gave it a shot.

What else could I try? I’m not a gym kind of guy. It’s expensive, and requires me to not be in pajamas when I exercise ;). As far as home equipment, I already bought a treadmill I never use. I’m not buying a bunch of equipment to hang clothing on.

Let’s face it, for most people cardio is boring, and I’m lazy when things are boring (okay I’m lazy whether things are boring or not, but boring is worse :) ).

Lazy people and lazy bowels?

I didn’t want to believe that my lack of exercise was my problem anyway. I’m sure there are people who get plenty of exercise and still have IBS symptoms (tell your story in the comments please!).

Besides, there are a million (okay a couple of thousand) things I’d rather do than exercise. Especially boring exercise.

But I switched primary care doctors, and my new doctor (an osteopath) told me the same kinds of thing.

Exercise helps IBS and lots of other things, and I need to find one that I enjoy.

Exercise that I enjoy sounded like an oxymoron, but she walked me through finding out why I hate exercising so much

My new doctor helped me realize that I needed something at least KIND of fun, and something that moved around a lot. Here was my checklist:

  1. Must be dynamic and move quickly so I don’t get bored
  2. Needs to be something I can do at any time of day, alone if necessary or desirable.
  3. Must be cheap (like me) and not take a lot of space, so I can do it at home. 

Kettlebells: The one exercise for IBS that has worked WONDERS for me!

I typed all that stuff into a Google search and found a site about kettlebells.

Next I was reading how kettlebells are great for cardio and weight loss (which I needed), but they also are great for building useful strength like picking up boxes, kids, couches, your spouse… I WANTED IN!

Now one of the chief exercises (some say the most important kettlebell exercise) is the kettlebell swing.

Check out this kettlebell swing video from Lauren Brooks a great kettlebell teacher. You need to know this stuff before you start. Great form. Skip to the end to just see the swing!

Doing this exercise really works almost your whole body. You’re bending over, then forcefully swinging a piece of iron up in front of you.

THIS REALLY SMOOSHES AROUND THE ABDOMINAL CAVITY AREA WHERE YOUR BOWELS ARE.

Smooshes being the technical term :).

Somehow, this worked a lot of gas out of my system, and firmed up my stool. It also kept stool moving regularly so I was going more often with more “form”.

{Facepalm}I really can’t believe I write this stuff sometimes.

Anyway, within a week or so I gradually started seeing major changes. Less gas, less trapped wind/gas, more regular and easier to pass bowel movements.

In fact the diarrhea and constipation are virtually GONE.

It didn’t seem to help so much with the visceral hypersensitivity (aka bowel pain) that hits me sometimes, but it does seem less frequent.

Can kettlebell swings help YOUR IBS?

I THINK SO! If someone asked me to recommend one exercise for IBS, this would be the one.

But only YOU can find out for sure.

NOTE: This is a powerful full body exercise. YOU CAN hurt yourself. You should talk to your doctor about it and get some training or at least a DVD about kettlebells.

The kettlebells themselves are small and don’t take up room like most gym equipment. Amazingly all this goodness from a piece of iron smaller than a gallon of milk. They are also much cheaper (less than $100, often less than $50).

Kettlebells and flatulence!

I don’t like typing this, but you’ve got to know. If you’re like me, kettebells swings are going to get gas out of your system when you use them!

In other words we’re talking about occassional out-of-control farts.

EMBARRASING!

Though there are good reasons to take a class (expertise, training, companionship) this is one reason I like doing kettlebell exercises at home.

This kettlebell exercise for IBS has my HUGE vote of confidence.

As I said above, the 2 biggest things that have helped my IBS are eliminating my IBS trigger foods, and doing kettlebell swings.

There are other exercises to be done with kettlebells, but that’s more than I’m going to write about here.

FEEL FREE TO ASK QUESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!

All the best!

Shawn

 

Angela Privin, an IBS Success Story

Angela Privin from diyhealthblog.com
Angela Privin from diyhealthblog.com

By Angela Privin

Being diagnosed with an “incurable” health condition when I was 28 years-old, was a low point in my life. I had constipation dominant-IBS and my doctors had nothing but bad news for me.

Because most doctors say IBS is incurable, it discourages people from finding natural solutions. But I’m very rebellious, so I set out alone on a journey to cure myself.

It took me years, but I finally succeeded in eradicating all my IBS symptoms and reversing my food intolerances. Now I help others do the same at www.diyhealthblog.com

When I was diagnosed with IBS I lived in New York City and worked as a financial journalist. Healing became the new focus of my life and I moved to San Francisco to access a calmer environment and lots of alternative medicine.

After moving, I spent years trying different diets and treatments to end my bloating, heartburn, gas, gut pain, fatigue, and constipation.

I did multi-week digestive cleanses that I found online (thanks to Dr. Google). I worked with a naturopath for many months, but he turned out to be inept. I educated myself on nutrition and dabbled in Eastern medicine such as Ayurveda (from India) and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

I took herbs, did Ayurvedic treatments, and had regular acupuncture treatments. I studied the benefits of an alkaline, raw food diet and did that for a while. I tried colonics, energy healers and bodywork, but nothing seemed to work.

When I was just about to give up, I met a nutritionist at a meditation workshop. After talking to her I had a feeling that this time it was going to be different.

I worked with her for a year and healed my gut with a low carb, high protein diet, some supplements and plenty of rest. It took discipline but it wasn’t rocket science and most importantly, it worked.…miraculously!

My symptoms subsided in the first two weeks and after a year I didn’t recognize my own body.

I was at a healthy weight, my depression was gone, I had lots of energy and I could eat and drink whatever I wanted (lattes and grilled cheese sandwiches) without any symptoms. I went to the bathroom regularly without any drama or discomfort.

Also, my immune system developed Superhero powers. My seasonal allergies were gone and I no longer caught the all flu or colds that went around.

I’ve been IBS-free for 8 years and have proved that IBS is not incurable, just a bit tough to figure out.

My message to others suffering with IBS is this: You can do it too, and without any pharmaceuticals!

The body is designed to heal and rebalance itself, as long as we stop throwing wrenches into the process by eating the wrong foods or never slowing down. With support, the digestive system can heal itself and become better than new.

Support means removing irritating foods for 6 months to a year and adding in healing foods, supplements and restful habits.

Also, dealing with toxic emotions can help speed up the healing process and will generally improve your life. But you can still have an anxious personality type AND a healthy gut. I’m living proof.

After my year of boot camp healing, my body was now balanced and here’s how I kept it that way for the next 8 years without being on any kind of restricted diet:

Cooking at home: Home cooking is a million times healthier than eating out. Restaurants use cheap, low quality ingredients and add extra fat, sugar and salt to hide it. You can eat out occasionally but cooking at home will keep you healthier. If you are not experienced with cooking, don’t worry, it gets easier with experience. Check out www.diyhealthblog.com for some cooking help and recipe ideas.

Probiotics plus: Probiotics are getting more popular for digestive healing, but popping a daily probiotic supplement is not the full answer. Choosing a high quality supplement is important but adding probiotic food and drinks such as kombucha, kefir, plain yogurt, sauer kraut, or miso is very helpful. And you can increase the effect of probiotics by reducing or cutting out sugar.

Rest: Avoiding stress is almost impossible but learning to balance the negative effects of stress is much easier. Getting enough sleep and taking at least 15 or 20 minutes out of your day to quiet and restore your body can balance the effects of stress.

Watching TV does not count as rest. Restorative rest means unplugging from the world (as in doing nothing productive).

I rest by lying down on the floor with my feet elevated, an eye pillow over my eyes (optional) and a blanket for warmth. Just 15 minutes of this can rebalance the nervous system. You might feel antsy or like you’re wasting time as you do this, but you’re actually rebuilding your nervous system and increasing your tolerance to stress. Rest is crucial for healing digestion.

I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all cures for IBS, but there’s one thing that can help everyone. That’s reducing/eliminating simple carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, pasta, fruit juice, dried fruit, and alcohol. (fresh fruit is ok in moderation).

Sugar and high glycemic carbs tend to ferment in the gut when the digestive system is out of balance, which can lead to bloating and gas (that painful uncomfortable feeling you complain about)

If you want more support and inspiration for healing IBS naturally, visit www.diyhealthblog.com for more free tips.

 

Heather Van Vorous and Help for IBS

Heather Von Vorous
Heather Von Vorous
© Helpforibs.com

I’d like to take a moment and introduce you to an amazing resource for IBS information. It’s a site called HelpforIBS.com by Heather Van Vorous and company.

So who is Heather?

Heather Van Vorous is a patient expert on IBS.

That means although she’s not a doctor, she has a vast amount of personal experience with IBS.

Heather has had IBS since she was 9 years old. As anyone who has IBS knows, a person can get pretty desperate to find some relief.

Some people will keep searching until they find things that help them.

And that’s just what Heather did. She’s spent years reading and writing about IBS.

Heather is a published author and cooking show host.

I have her book “The First Year: Irritable Bowel Syndrome” . I’ve used it as part of my research for this site, and I can recommend it as an easy read, with a LOT of helpful information.

Heather has other books and media that she’s produced. She even had a cooking show for people with digestive problems called “Heather Cooks”.

Heather’s website has massive amounts of information, attacking IBS from every angle. You can find information about Yoga and IBS, hypnosis and IBS, her books, products she’s developed to help IBS symptoms… Just about everything.

Helpforibs.com even has a huge message board where people can ask questions or talk back and forth about IBS and living with IBS.

So why am I talking so much about the “competition”?

I admit I love when people (like you) come to my site. But helping you find information that you need is what’s important. (Quick reminder, I’m not a doctor either).

I hope you can find useful stuff here, but I know I’m not the only game in town. Besides, my writing style may not be for everyone :).

Good luck out there.

And keep up the good work, Heather.

Milk Sensitivity

Have you been weaned yet??

Cow nursing her calf.
A mother feeding her young is a beautiful thing. But as adult humans, why are we drinking milk meant for baby cows???
© Can Stock Photo

I told my new gastroenterologist I had a milk sensitivity.  He wasn’t surprised, but what he said surprised me. He told me just about everyone a problem with a dairy sensitivity sooner or later. I asked him why people should have so much trouble digesting milk, cheese, and other dairy products.  I wanted to hear what he’d say. He told me that in nature, animals are weaned (stop nursing on their mothers) by the time they are adults, at the latest. Once the time for digesting milk products is over, the ability to digest them fades away. The body doesn’t waste the energy to keep that ability once the milk flow stops coming. In fact, he told me almost EVERYONE becomes lactose intolerant at some point!

Lack of lactose digestion…

I think most people that have a milk sensitivity have problems with lactose. There are other kinds of milk sensitivities (see below), but that seems to be the most common one. Lactose is a sugar. If it’s not digested, it proceeds to the large intestine where bacteria and yeast devour it. These bacteria and yeasts then create gas, and other intestinal irritants. They also breed out of control. This leads to bloating, which in many people (especially people with IBS) leads to gas, bowel cramping, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even constipation! So I asked my doctor:

Does Lactaid or other lactose enzymes pills help with milk sensitivity?

He chuckled a little, but then got serious. He told me that people that have a very minor case of lactose intolerance can get away with using lactose enzyme pills. He went on to say that anyone with a high sensitivity to milk lactose would probably still have problems even when using lactose enzyme pills.

The case against casein:

Angry cow closeup picture.
My milk was never meant for you in the first place. No wonder it makes so many of you sick.
© Can Stock Photo

If all this wasn’t bad enough, there are other kinds of milk sensitivity besides lactose intolerance. Casein is a protein found in the milk of many mammals (humans included). However, some people are allergic to casein, and other people are sensitive to it. In fact casein has a chemical structure that is similar to gluten. LOTS of people have trouble with gluten! Could there be a link here? Stay tuned…. Casein is found in all kinds of things, from sports energy bars to margarine! It goes by many names including:calcium casein, casein hydrolysate, magnesium casein, potassium casein, rennet casein, sodium casein. It’s used as an additive in many foods.

Meanwhile, back to milk sensitivity in general:

What my gastro doc said made me think (again) how strange it is that we drink milk or eat dairy products. Human milk is for baby humans. Cows milk is for baby cows.

If you have IBS, I think you should find out if you have a milk sensitivity.

Talk to your doctor and/or a dietician, and maybe try a food elimination diet. This may find other foods you may be sensitive to! Good luck and let me know how you make out in the comments section! Find out more about food sensitivities. Look here for lactose intolerance.

The Best Intestinal Probiotics for IBS:Get the Germs You Need!

Why you should spend money to buy bacteria.

Probiotics stamp.
Your intestinal bacteria is a HUGE part of your health. Make sure you treat it kindly
© Can Stock Photo

Studies have shown that intestinal probiotics, (often just called probiotics), can help IBS symptoms.

The trouble is that many people buy probiotics that don’t contain the right bacteria for IBS.

Okay, what are intestinal probiotics and why do I need them?

“Probiotic” is a name for bacteria that your body needs (more below).

Probiotic capsules are one way to get that bacteria.

If you have IBS, there’s a good chance your intestinal bacteria might be out of whack (the technical term for that is dysbiosis).

There are many ways this can happen, including a poor diet, illness, or the use of antibiotics.

Once the residents of your bowels become unbalanced, you can get those familiar IBS symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc.

If it’s dysbiosis, I’ve only seen a few ways to fix that (remembering I’m just a person like you with IBS, that reads too much a lot :) ).

  • Taking more antibiotics to kill off bacteria in the wrong place (see SIBO)
  • A complete diet change to encourage the needed bacteria to multiply (which can take a while and may never happen).
  • Adding helpful bacteria by taking intestinal probiotics.

One of the most effective options seems to be taking the probiotics.

So you’re saying I need more bacteria???

First of all bacteria has an unfair reputation for being bad. You actually need the bacteria in your bowels. They’re part of your immune system; they help digest food; they even create some of the vitamins you need!

You couldn’t survive without the little guys.

Unfortunately, bacteria in an infection or illness gives other bacteria a bad name.

And when you do get an infection or illness, sometimes the doctor needs to give you antibiotics to kill the bad bacteria.

The trouble is, antibiotics also wipe out good bacteria that you need.

Are antibiotics bad, then?

No, they can save your life. Antibiotics have saved many, many lives. But they kill bacteria you need, and when that happens you need to build that bacteria back up.

Now some people that exercise and have the perfect diet, may be able to get their intestinal bacteria back in balance with no assistance. Others, (like some people with IBS for instance) need a bit of help.

That’s where intestinal probiotics come in.

Study proves that intestinal probiotics can help IBS symptoms!

Probiotic cartoon holding a sign saying he is a bowel professional.
He may not look like much, but he’s doing a very important job for you!
© Can Stock Photo

But they have to be the right kind.

According to this study, the best probiotic for IBS is bifidobacterium infantis, sometimes called bifidobacterium or b. infantis.

People in the study took either took Lactobacillus salivarius , b. infantis, or a placebo (which can also surprisingly help IBS).

The people taking the b. infantis had the best results, showing improvement in bloating, abdominal pain, and difficulty “going”.

So if you try probiotics, you may want to look for bifidobacterium infantis,  bifidobacterium or b. infantis on the bottle.

Remember the enteric coating.

An enteric coated capsule dissolves in the intestines instead of the stomach.

That means the bacteria has a better chance of not getting destroyed by your stomach acid.

The best probiotics for IBS won’t do you any good if the bacteria gets wiped out before it reaches your intestines.

So remember:

Eat your germs, they’re good for you!

Sorry. I couldn’t resist :).

Note: you should talk to your doctor before using probiotics, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

 Let me know what you think about it in the comments section!