Balance October 2017 - 51

The
indigestible
truth
With IBS, anxiety and stress on the rise, is the
solution simpler than we think? asks Lisa Sanfilippo

B

illustration by
V I C K I T U RNE R

oth my Facebook and
Instagram feeds are
obsessed with what
you put in your mouth.
A Sunday roast. A
raw vegan slaw.
Another avocado smashed onto toast. Clean,
Paleo, Ayurvedic, chef boxes, coconut oil: we're
obsessed with what we are eating.
Still there's a massive upsurge in digestive
maladies and intolerances. This leaves me
to wonder: Maybe it's not just about what
we're eating... but what's eating us? Ancient
yogis said that 'everything is food' and it's
our ability to digest something that separates
what's nourishing from what's toxic.
So what of the fact that between 10 and
20% of the public suffer from Irritable Bowel
Syndrome (IBS) in the UK at any given
time? It was widely reported last year that
the NHS dispenses more than four million
prescriptions for antacids every year, at a cost
of more than £26 million.
One IBS sufferer, we'll call him 'Ted', tried
antacids, every dietary detox he could find and
changed his food choices because, like many,
he was having problems with his digestion.
Finally, he went to see his GP for some meds.
He was told he had IBS. It didn't shift.
Ted showed up on a yoga mat with his gut
in a knot. The unexplained, intense pains had
begun four months earlier. His bowel would
go liquid at times. Other days, the reverse. Bad

54

digestion, bloating appetite. Up, then down.
Ted went for a yoga therapy session hoping
some poses might 'fix it'.
He started to do some deep belly breathing
- and soon tears were flowing. An image came
up as he released the tension in his lower
abdomen - it was of his girlfriend of two years
shouting at him in the street the week before.
This wasn't the first time Mary's reaction
had been extreme, but the incidents had built
up slowly. It wasn't until he literally stopped
and listened to his gut that the source of his
digestive trouble started to become clear. The
penny dropped. This is what the GP had meant
by 'stress' causing his difficulties.

AND RELAX...
Ted's symptoms may seem extreme, but they
are certainly not uncommon. Some suggest
our digestive malaise is down to eating too
fast; others blame fast foods and intolerances
to hard-to-process ingredients, such as
gluten or lactose. But why are foods that were
once innocuous now seemingly toxic? Ted's
experience suggests it isn't just our food.
While the substances we consume and
foods we eat certainly have a direct impact
on our gut, there is evidence to suggest that
an overwhelming increase in the 'stress
response' in modern life bears a large part of
the blame. While we may not feel particularly
stressed, consider first that our breathing rate
is directly linked to our heart rate and that

BA LA N CE October 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance October 2017

Balance October 2017 - 1
Balance October 2017 - 2
Balance October 2017 - 3
Balance October 2017 - 4
Balance October 2017 - 5
Balance October 2017 - 6
Balance October 2017 - 7
Balance October 2017 - 8
Balance October 2017 - 9
Balance October 2017 - 10
Balance October 2017 - 11
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