Near-constant gas, bloating, intestinal pain, plus a feeling of being clogged up, or, alternatively, having a perpetually upset stomach; oh, IBS is such a treat. Twentysomethings, in particular, seem to suffer from the various symptoms that get bundled up as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but there seems to be no age barrier to that sudden-onset eight-months-pregnant look that characterises IBS. Some sufferers never dare wear anything clingy because just a few mouthfuls can have their abdomen swelling hideously. And even if you don’t suffer that degree of bloating you will know how horribly uncomfortable and thus murderously bad-tempered you can feel when your guts aren’t working properly. Stress seems a key cause, along with eating when tired. Excess sugar and alcohol, junk food, plus foods you are individually sensitive too all do their bit, too. And it’s a nightmare to sort out. The Original Mayr clinic’s advice to chew your food – really chew it, grinding away on each mouthful until whatever you’re eating has been reduced to the consistency of cream – is helpful. It’s often not until you start consciously chewing properly that you realise how much you usually bolt everything down by the chunk. Digestion should start in the mouth, with the action of saliva on food, and if what arrives in your stomach isn’t already liquefied you can pretty much guarantee pain and problems. Another key piece of Original Mayr advice, to eat only three times a day, sitting at the table, and focussing purely on the food, helps one remember the chewing rule.
But another key cause of IBS is a lack of good gut bacteria, and here there’s a promising new product on the market. Bacteria help digest everything you eat, and if you don’t have enough of the little darlings (perhaps because you’ve taken a course of antibiotics, for instance, which kill them off), you are guaranteed gas and bloating etc. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut (cabbage) and kefir (yogurt) help boost gut bacteria, as do some probiotic pills and yogurts. Some is the operative word, though. “Contains billions of bacteria” they all claim. But how can you check that? Get out a microscope? You have to take it on trust. From weary experience we know that some brands seem entirely useless. Exasperatingly, that includes expensive varieties sold in health food stores as well as supermarket brands. However, our 23-year-old guinea pig, MA-student Emma, has seen good results with the new probiotic range from Rhythm Health. Rhythm claim their coconut probiotic is the most powerful on the market, containing upwards of 200 billion live, lactose-free, sugar-free kefir cultures. Made with coconut milk from young coconuts sourced in the Philippines, its kefir is created using a patented cold-pressing technique to keep it as raw and natural as possible. “My IBS isn’t completely cured, “Emma says. “But it’s been considerably better since I started drinking the Rhythm kefir, and I’ve definitely had better results with this than I have had with everything else I’ve tried, which has included some incredibly expensive powders from Switzerland and aloe vera gel. I haven’t experienced as much of the excruciating stomach pain I normally get – every day, sometimes. I haven’t been getting as bloated, either. IBS is triggered by so many factors. But starting the day with a boost of good bacteria makes me feel I’m mounting a good line of defence. And I love the coconut taste. ”
Rhythm drinks are available in three variations: natural coconut, coconut with mango, and coconut with pomegranate, all at £1.69 per 126g little bottle. Rhythm recommend you drink one of the 126-g little bottles three times a week.Order from them online and the drinks are delivered by 2pm the next day, packed with bottled ice to keep the drinks at the correct temperature; they are also available at Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic, As Nature Intended and Holland & Barrett . (www.rhythmhealth.co.uk)
WRITTEN BY: ADRIAANE PIELOU