I was reading Melissa's McEwen's recent blog post on IBS (http://huntgatherlove.com/content/why-paleo-didnt-fix-my-ibs), which got me thinking about if this ambiguous "syndrome" is more organic or mental. I suffered from IBS for 7 LONG years and after some GAPs protocol and jumping on the Paleo bandwagon it seemed to help quit a bit, however, I could tell there was still some work to be done. Fast forward 2+ years and I still don't feel I have made much progress since my initial switch to Paleo and from a performance view that sucks! If I tried to increase my squat or deadlift, for example, and I only increased it 2-3% in 2+ years, while trying various techniques, routines, trainers, etc., I would get pretty frustrated and probably just accept the fact that I am a weak P@#%y!!! However, I refuse to give in and not be completely healed from this, so I continue to try new things as Melissa described in her blog post.
Now back to Melissa's blog post....it's seems a common theme that most IBS suffers are never fully cured regardless of how they manipulate their Paleolithic diets. Whether it's strict Paleo, 80/20 Paleo, Primal, SCD, Perfect Health Diet, GAPs, WAPF, etc., the same outcome is echoed over and over, GREAT results but still minor to moderate symptoms. Most of the discussion on Paleo Hacks, blogs and podcasts on IBS are about what and how we eat, but very few talk about the mental aspect. This is especially true when we talk about the cause of IBS. Most of the discussion is on damage to the gut and decrease in good bacteria or even overgrowth of bacteria. However, most experts believe IBS is often caused by emotional conflict or stress causing your body to go into a sort of fight or flight mode. Many believe even after that stress period or emotional conflict has gone, the IBS remains because mentally you have not recovered or healed, therefore, your body continues to respond in this manner. I will note that when I had IBS and was eating SAD, most of those same IBS experts suggested meditation, hypnosis, and stress avoidance. During those 7 years I tried those suggestions with only short term and minor positive changes. Since starting Paleo, I have also attempted meditation and stress reducing techniques, but again with the same short term and minor positive effects.
Let's take a look at when my IBS began. I was eating bodybuilding SAD at the time and definitely overtraining, however, I also remember I was going through one of the most stressful periods of my life (family death, marital issues, job issues, financial issues, etc.). I often wonder what was the true culprit? Was it inevitable, even without the stress (mental and/or physical), that the food was going to cause it or would I have remained "healthy" if I would have never experienced that amount of stress (mental and/or physical) or were they equally to blame?? It's almost a chicken and egg question, right?? It's obvious that this question can never be answered, but it's always been in the back of my mind.
As most IBS sufferers know, the fear of going back to that life, where you spend more time with your toilet more than anyone else, always resonates in your mind because it is such a miserable existence. So if you look at IBS in the way I described above, non-organic and stress/emotional related, then is the lack of focus on fixing the mental aspect and that fear of recidivism the reason why most of us in the Paleo community cannot get to the next level with our recovery?? For the few that have recovered 100%, do you recall experience any stress or emotional conflict when your IBS began or was it simply an allergy or intolerance to a food?? It also begs to question, if the mental aspect is holding us back, what will it take to completely healed and REMAIN healthy??