Have you ever wondered why your IBS symptoms act up in spring or fall?
The answer is fairly simple, but first you need to understand the concept of your body’s “total toxic load” and a few pieces of related information…
1. Your immune system is at work constantly helping you to clear out environmental toxins, handle stresses, and do all the little repairs needed to help your body stay in homeostasis or internal balance.
It’s a big job.
2. An estimated 60 – 80 percent of your immune system is in and around your digestive system, so the two are closely linked and affect each other.
3. Everything you come into contact with, inhale or put in your mouth affects your immune system in one of three ways: 1) it helps you, 2) it’s neutral, or 3) it harms you - and then your immune system has to take action to protect you from it.
4. Total toxic load is all the stuff your immune system has to deal with that could harm you.
That includes chemical toxins in the environment or in products you use on a daily basis (lotions, laundry detergent, cleaners, plastics, air fresheners, and so forth); food sensitivities or allergies; emotional stress (yes, as you probably know, emotional stress affects your physical body); drug reactions; pet dander, mould, and pollen.
AHA! Mould and pollen… These are things that occur seasonally – in spring or fall.
If you live in a climate that goes through a cold winter, you enjoy the benefit of snow covering up the mould in the ground for a few months. Then, when spring arrives and the snow melts, all the mould spores that were trapped beneath it fly into the air for you to inhale.
In the autumn, when the leaves fall and vegetation begins to die off and rot, more mould is released.
This can be a big stress on your immune system. And if you have an overgrowth of candida yeast, the mould tends to exacerbate that, so you may find yourself craving sweets and alcohol, the very foods that will worsen that condition and irritate your digestion.
Later in spring, as plants and trees blossom, the pollen begins. Then towards fall, the ragweed season starts. Pollen is a protein that is foreign to the human body (though bees love it.) For many people, inhaling pollen in the air is a problem to be dealt with by the immune system.
So, as you can see, in spring and fall, the immune system has extra work to do and may become temporarily overloaded. That means that it might not be able to help you digest foods that are okay for you at other times of the year. Or it might not be as good at handling the other stresses in your life. The effect is that your IBS symptoms act up more in spring or fall.
What to do? Here are some suggestions:
A) If you know your symptoms are worse in spring and fall, try using an air filter machine in your bedroom (or for your whole house, if that is feasible.) This will give your body a break from the outdoor pollens – especially important during sleep time, which is when your body does its repair work.
B) See if you can reduce your total toxic load to ease the burden on your immune and digestive systems:
• Are you using a lot of scented products? Go unscented.
• Do you have plastic bags tumbling out of every drawer and cupboard? Get rid of them or at least store them in an air-tight container to keep the petrochemical molecules out of your indoor air.
• Are you using scented laundry detergent and fabric softener? Again, go unscented with the former and toss the latter, or use plain vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine. Does a great job and will not make your clothes smell like vinegar!
• At least during pollen and/or mould season, avoid wearing clothes that have been freshly dry cleaned. The most common dry cleaning chemical, perchloroethylene or “perc”, is highly toxic and you will inhale it from your clothes or get it on your skin. Perc depresses your central nervous system which – guess what? – governs your digestive system, so it is NOT going to help with IBS symptoms. It is also a known carcinogen, harms skin, and increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
• Are you drinking chlorinated tap water or making your tea from it? Chlorine is a harsh chemical that can harm the bowel. Filter your water to remove it. Or buy a better quality water. Or simply pour a pitcher or bottle of tap water (leave top open) and allow it to sit for an hour, in the sun if possible. This will evaporate the chlorine.
• Confine your house plants to one room and cover the soil with pebbles to keep down the mould.
• Honey advocates say that if you start eating local honey before pollen season begins, you will reduce your sensitivity to pollen. This is a folk remedy so I can’t vouch for it but, if you like honey, it’s a delicious one!
• Avoid using an outdoor clothes line to dry clothes during high pollen as pollen and mould stick to clothes. You especially don’t want it on your pyjamas and bedding as this will add extra pressure to your immune and digestive systems during sleep when your body needs down time to renew itself.
• Watch out for foods related to seasonal pollens and moulds: maple syrup and tree fruits during spring pollen... melons and camomile during ragweed season... mushrooms and fermented foods during spring and fall mould.
Set Up: “Even though I'm out of balance because of the pollen and mould, I choose to feel strong and come back into balance.”
Tap one or two rounds on: “I’m out of balance from pollen and mould”
And a round on: “Feeling strong”, “Coming back into balance”
Do these suggestions sound like small things? You’ll be surprised how doing several of these “little things” adds up to feeling better. When there are many stresses on your immune (and digestive) system, changing one thing may not be enough, so give yourself every possible boost. That way, during spring or fall when pollen and mould hit, your IBS is far less likely to act up.
Want more information about how you can take control of IBS and get your life back? Check out our new book: Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS: 3 Crucial Secrets to Getting Better.
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