When you come away from the doctor's surgery with a diagnosis of IBS and you're told that life will always be uncomfortable, it's hard to see where to go next. You might be making some mistakes trying to fix your own gut symptoms, so I thought I'd write a blog post to help you.
It's understandable that many of my clients try to take matters into their own hands once an "expert" has told them that there's little to no hope for recovery.
However, I want you to know that there is hope. You CAN have the freedom to love life again.
Read on to see if you're making any of these mistakes...
1. Cutting everything out
This is something I see all the time. Often people cut everything out and eat the blandest diet they can bear because they don't know what else to do. It can be what ends up being recommended, after serial investigations and only as a last resort, however cutting everything out is pretty pointless if you don't work on the underlying issues.
Usually, there are problems in the gut that need fixing or healing. And I always look at those factors before any diet decisions are made. For example, we'd look at how you can reduce stress, which is often a contributing factor for gut health by focusing more on foods which have a calming effect on the nervous system. Sometimes clients are taking anti-acids like Omeprazole or Rennies to ease digestive symptoms rather than solving the actual issue, which could be a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or even too little stomach acid.
Working with a qualified nutritional therapist means you're not on your own.
2. Following a low FODMAP diet
When I meet clients who are following a low-FODMAP diet, it's usually a strategy that's been dished out by their GP willy-nilly. (This isn't a criticism as such, because GPs are underfunded and have limited time and resources to support their patients. I get it!) But if you're recommended to follow the low-FODMAP diet, you have got to do it properly.
What often happens is people think onions and garlic are fodmaps so they cut those out but they don't do the diet appropriately and unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Excessive bloating, industrial gas and foul smelling stools are often associated with specific bacteria--Desulfovibrio spp and methanobrevii smithii—both of which can be picked up in a comprehensive stool test, and I can organise this. If you want to know more head here.
Following the low-FODMAP diet long term with no support can cause a depletion in microbials and friendly bacteria. Which is (in case you've not realised...) a bad thing. A healthy gut needs those things to do its job properly.
Instead of following a low-FODMAP diet, you should join my new 10 week programme. We'll follow a much more enjoyable anti-inflammatory diet, with recipes that you can try and we'll even do a cook along. The focus is on healing, nourishing and rebalancing your gut, not making you miserable! You can live a happier and healthier life!
Select the VIP group programme option and you'll have the option to include a comprehensive stool analysis test as well as a 1-2-1 session with me during the group programme. This is by far the cheapest way to access my expert knowledge as well as stool testing without having to commit to my 1-2-1 90-day gut health plan.
3. Taking supplements without support
In the grand scheme of things, taking supplements isn't altogether a bad thing. In fact, they're a resource I often recommend to my clients. Under expert guidance, supplements can be incredibly beneficial. With a careful approach your therapeutic needs can be met.
However, I've seen an increase in clients who are taking supplement advice from influencers—who have no nutritional training—they've seen recommending them online. Or perhaps friends who've noticed improvements in their symptoms saying, "you should try it! It's worked wonders for me!". Sadly, supplements need a really personal approach. What works for one person might not work for another person. It can be an expensive waste of time!
The same goes for probiotics. Often my clients tell me they've "tried that; it doesn't work" but there are may different strains of probiotic, all with different abilities. And many probiotic rich foods are actually quite strong and can be overwhelming on a gut that is out of balance. So my approach is to look at healing the gut first, fixing any issues and then adding in probiotics to build gut health.
4. Believing that you have no problems because your colonoscopy is clear
So you've had a colonoscopy and it's ruled out the Big C, and numerous worrying illnesses, but hasn't given you an answer to your questions. That's not to say you don't have a problem, though. It just means that your problem can't be seen by a camera. Enzymes and bacteria are invisible to the basic cameras used in these procedures. And they're also unable to pick up how you feel and any bloating you might have.
So while these tests can be vital to rule out life-threatening illnesses, it's important that we acknowledge other ways of investigating gut health. A great example of this is using food journals like we keep on the "Ease your gut, beat the bloat" group programme. By recording what you eat and when, we can work through your diet, identifying triggers. Ones that can't be picked up by a camera!
Another avenue of investigation, beyond a colonoscopy, is comprehensive stool testing. This provides information on bacteria, yeasts and parasites that can become problematic if they become too dominant in an imbalanced or unhealthy gut. These bacteria, yeasts and parasites can be more easily detected because the tests use technology that can measure bacteria's genetic material so they are more easily detected. Find out more about that here.
5. You're trying to do it alone
It can be really lonely working through gut health problems by yourself. Investigating triggers and symptoms with no support is hard! But it doesn't have to be like that. According to research, about 20% of the UK adult population have IBS at any one time. So you're truly not alone!
Having to face all these difficulties on your own means that often you might face an information overload. You might end up Googling for ideas and getting caught up in searching down an endless rabbit-hole of info. Simply put, it is super-overwhelming. And it can cause you to give up.
So one easy fix is to look for a trusted and reliable community to share the journey with you. Love or hate social media, it's a place where you can meet fellow sufferers and compare and contrast your symptoms. You can share resources, develop strategies together or just hang out. But it's hard to know where to seek support and who you can trust online, isn't it? Joining a group programme like mine is a fantastic way of creating community.
Life doesn't have to be lonely!
Have you made any of these mistakes?
Are you at the end of your tether?
Tried every option with no success?
Time to try something brand new!
I'd love you to join my 10 week programme “Ease your gut, beat the bloat”. Each week we work towards your optimal gut health so you can feel better.
Find out more here on this post. Feel free to email me any questions you have about the programme and how it works.
April is both stress awareness month and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) awareness month.
While I fully support IBS awareness month, I believe the “awareness” needs to be focussed on what is causing your bowel to be irritable.
I was prompted to write todays blog because IBS is not a hugely helpful diagnosis. It's an abbreviation to describe an irritated gut. An abbreviation that doesn't help you if, everyday, you feel:
I can’t tell you how many women (and men) I’ve had come to work with me that were told they have IBS and there is nothing they can do about it.
Or they were told to just “manage stress” better.
Working with a nutritional therapist can help get to the root cause of your IBS and support your digestion nutritionally so that you can get back to feeling like you again.
You don’t have to live with your debilitating digestive issues. There is a cause to your digestive dysfunction (it's not just about managing your stress). I want you to know that you can overcome chronic digestive issues. Read on to find out more.
How irritable bowel syndrome is diagnosed and treated
You may have read online that IBS is a junk diagnosis, or "BS" diagnosis.
In fact this research paper goes as far as describing an IBS diagnosis as lazy medicine...
The author, Ben Brown (Brown, 2019), explains how IBS is not one disease but an umbrella term or ‘catch-all’ for multiple identifiable and treatable digestive symptoms which may be triggered by a combination of nutritional and lifestyle factors.
So once all the tests come back "normal" at your doctors surgery, you get labelled with "IBS" and told "there’s not much we can do about it".
But all this REALLY means is there's not much we can do *medically* about this, because you don't have a serious life-threatening disease (thankfully!).
Sadly, a diagnosis of IBS completely fails you, the patient, by not explaining that IBS is driven by multiple nutritional factors.
Brown's research paper concludes that clustering multiple digestive symptoms under one label of "IBS" risks “lazy thinking” and delays recovery.
And as an experienced nutritional therapist, specialising in digestive issues, I agree whole-heartedly with his findings.
What really causes irritable bowel syndrome?
Tell me, have you been told you "just have to live with IBS"?
Maybe you were told:
“You just need more Imodium, Fybogel, or go low-FODMAP”
These are not long-term solutions to your bloating, diarrhoea or constipation. They are like sticking plasters (which aren't even very sticky).
In my clinic, I help people on a weekly basis with IBS.
The most common underlying issues for irritable bowel syndrome that I see (which may occur alone or along with several issues) include:
These issues are functional gut disorders. Functional gut issues are not something routinely picked up by a GP. But these are EXACTLY the kinds of digestive issues a nutritional therapist can help you with. Find out more here.
Irritable bowel syndrome and stress
Stress can make an irritated bowel worse (because stress shuts down digestion) but stress alone is really unlikely to be the only cause of your irritable bowel.
Prolonged stress makes IBS and gut health worse because stress:
What is the long-term of effect of stress on your gut and IBS?
Been told there is nothing you can do about IBS besides eat more fibre and drink more water?
For most of us, our stress is not going away. It is a reality we live with and for many of my clients stress and anxiety can trigger diarrhoea which can completely ruin their day.
Putting the right nutritional support in place to support the actions of our digestive system during prolonged stress means our body can return to responding more appropriately to the stressors and challenges we face on a day-to-day basis.
Can you see how there is so much more to healing your IBS than just "learning to manage your stress"?
It's why I created my tried and tested 5-step gut healing framework.
As a highly experienced nutritional therapist, I can help you identify what's at the heart of your IBS and tailor a nutritional protocol over a period of three months so you can go from feeling at your wits end to finding the freedom to love life again.
You deserve to have seamless, stress-free digestion.
Want a tailored nutrition plan to help you take back control of your IBS and digestive issues?
Check out my 90-day gut health plan here.
Tired of misdiagnosed or dismissed tummy troubles?
Frustrated with endless nights searching the web for answers?
Sick of your digestive system dictating (and often ruining) your day?
Fed-up playing a guessing game with your gut health?
There’s no denying that gut health issues can be debilitating and frustrating.
Especially when your GP gives you the “all clear” or your test results come back “normal” despite ongoing symptoms.
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you can resonate with some or all the above. And, you are not alone. In fact, as a registered nutritional therapist, I work with individuals like you every day. Individuals who are seeking answers, who feel they have tried everything and are eager to regain control of their gut health once and for all!
In most cases, comprehensive stool testing is the next step.
What is stool testing?
When it comes to gut health, I’m a big advocate for testing and not guessing.
Why? Because blindly making changes to your nutrition or lifestyle could lead you in the wrong direction and sometimes do more harm than good.
Functional Stool testing is one of the best and most comprehensive gut health tests available and can give a snapshot of what’s going on inside your gut. By assessing key digestive markers, this test can provide an overview of all aspects of digestive function. It can offer much-needed clarity, demystify symptoms and help bring peace of mind.
A comprehensive stool test acts as an important tool, measuring (good and bad) bacteria levels, detecting markers for inflammation, immune or digestive issues, and gives a general overview of an individual’s gastrointestinal health.
Contrary to what you might think, taking a stool test is quick, mess-free and easy to do from the comfort of your home. Each test requires just three swabs from one sample, which is then posted back to the lab for analysis.
What can comprehensive stool testing show?
There are two main types of stool tests used in the UK: the kind doctors use to screen for certain diseases or conditions and the type registered nutritional therapists use to inform nutritional therapy recommendations.
If you head to your doctor with symptoms like diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, or if you’ve been passing mucus or blood in your bowel movements, they may ask you to do a stool sample. This test may rule out serious diseases like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or H. Pylori but often these tests fail to identify the root cause of what is causing your symptoms.
Instead of digging deeper, individuals get labelled with a diagnosis of "IBS" (irritable bowel syndrome) - a BS "umbrella term" which is not a real diagnosis. More on that here.
Private gut health tests via nutritionists - like Stellar Health, provide a more comprehensive overview of the gut’s health. A comprehensive stool analysis test looks at the microbiology in your gut, and indicates where there are imbalances or even absences of particular bacteria.
It can also provide information on:
✔️ gases produced by bacteria (e.g. methane or sufidogenic) which may be contributing to SIBO, bloating, and/or constipation
✔️ inflammation, e.g. calprotectin
✔️ immune, e.g. secretory IgA
✔️ digestion, e.g. enzymes and bile acids
✔️ mucin degradation, e.g. leaky gut
✔️ yeasts including candida
Armed with this invaluable information, we can begin to paint a picture of what’s contributing to your symptoms and determine what dietary, lifestyle and supplemental interventions might be most effective.
While stool tests can be an important tool in assessing potential digestive imbalances, it’s important to remember that they are not a magic bullet. However, when used alongside a client’s case history, it can be a really helpful guide to inform next steps and a more targeted and personalised nutrition plan.
Why should I consider a comprehensive stool test?
The health of our gut is closely linked to the health of just about every organ in our body, including the brain, bladder, heart, skin, and even vaginas! With this in mind, I believe that anyone can benefit from comprehensive stool testing and that gut health testing should be a standard part of preventive care.
As already discussed, stool testing can vary depending on whether it is carried out by a doctor or a nutritionist. While both tests have a place in your journey to better gut health, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.
Doctors should be your first point of contact should you start to experience issues with your gut. When a doctor is examining your stool sample, they are looking to rule out specific diseases. However, frustratingly these tests do not uncover the root of the problem and can often come back “normal”, leaving the patient confused and without answers.
A typical result from a basic lab stool culture (from your doctor) might look something like this:
Not only does this result provide little information, but it can also lead you to believe your gut is healthy or balanced, even though your symptoms are telling you it isn’t.
I’ve had so many clients that have received “normal” basic stool culture results, only to do comprehensive stool testing and find that they have severe fungal or microbial imbalances.
Comprehensive stool testing differs because it allows us to cast a wider net, looking at chronic disease-related microbial (bacteria, fungal, parasites) markers and information regarding digestion efficiency. When you suffer from symptoms like bloating, foul wind or alternating bowel movements, the issue is functional and not visible to cameras, endoscopes or the naked eye.
Functional stool testing isn’t about “yes” or “no” results. It’s about looking at patterns in the entire gut ecosystem, your health history and current health and using this information to get to the bottom of the problem and inform personalised diet recommendations.
Ultimately, a comprehensive stool test can give you answers, clarity and the foundation for a gut health roadmap.
How much does stool testing cost?
Comprehensive stool tests are highly specialised and currently not offered through the NHS. At present, the only option is to pay for them privately.
There are many different stool tests on the market, and while cost can vary from test to test, there’s no denying that it can be an expensive procedure. However, when you suffer from persistent debilitating symptoms that affect your daily life, finding an answer can outweigh any cost and make it worth every penny.
Imagine; no longer stressing over food labels, worrying where the nearest loo is or choosing clothes based on what you want to wear, not how bloated you are.
Ready to reap the benefits of comprehensive stool testing? The good news is it is available as an add-on to my 90 Days to Better Gut Health plan.
90 days to a happier, healthier gut (yes, really!)
🎈 Bloating 🤢 acid reflux 😲 unpredictable bowel movements 🥴 indigestion
😞 constipation 💨 foul wind 🥱 fatigue 💩diarrhoea 😩 stomach cramps…
It’s time to break free from never-ending tummy troubles for good with my 90 Days to Better Gut Health 1:1 Programme!
For an investment of £897 or 3 monthly payments of £315, this 90-day programme provides a window into the goings-on of your gut and is the only way to get a full scope of clinical tests carried out through the trusted labs I use.
By joining my programme, you’ll receive:
This programme can fine-tune any imbalances, address symptoms and get you on the path to a happy, healthier gut 🙌
Ready to get to the bottom of your gut health issues and FINALLY feel like yourself again?
How amazing would it be to eat wherever you want, not plan your trips out based on where the loos are, and go on holidays (remember those!??) without a suitcase full of Buscopan and Fybogel?!
Well in just 90 days, I can help you go from feeling bloated and windy, to feeling like you again! Banish the uncomfortable feelings, get your energy back and start living your life again!
Working with me 1-2-1, you'll begin to understand your gut and have the support you need to get the results you want and deserve. Here's how it works!
Who is this for?
Stellar Health's 90 days to better gut health is for any one who's got tummy issues. This can look different for lots of my clients. Sometimes the problem might show up as you feeling lethargic and having low energy. Or it might be that you have chronic digestive troubles or chronic pain. Often my clients have been diagnosed with IBS and told that they just need to live with it, or they're advised to try a Low-Fodmap diet.
All of these issues require more than a quick fix, which is why I only work 1-2-1 with people over a period of 3 months. I want you to start feeling better and living the life you deserve, not one you think you have to put up with. And to do that, we've got to investigate what's really going on and make changes - which takes time if you want to see long-lasting results.
Why 3 whole months?
If I sat with you for a whole day on Zoom, sent you a massive binder full of all the information you need to help you investigate your gut health, posted you a load of supplements, and a generic meal plan to follow, the chances are you'd leave the call feeling overwhelmed and confused. And you'd give up within a week or two.
After years of working with hundreds of clients, trying different strategies and methods of working, I've found that getting results takes time. Not only does it take time to see results, it takes you time to get used to changes and get into new routines.
Working with me over 90 days gives you ongoing support, follow through and accountability for a journey that isn't always easy. During our time together, we'll make tweaks and look at how they impact your gut, and adjust things as we go. If I only see you once, how can we know if the plan we've put in place is working?
What do you get in 90 days?
When you book onto 90 Days to Better Gut Health with me, you have to know that this isn't just any old nutritional therapy programme. This is a whole other level. Stellar level, if you will! Over the three months, you get a monthly call with me on Zoom and phone calls in between to help you stay on track. You get a comprehensive stool test and one month of tailored supplements (included) so there are no hidden surprises, only the best possible results. You get email and messaging support too, so you're never alone on this nutritional journey. Consider me your gut health wing woman!
Having the chance to chat things through, to be open about how you're feeling as we get into discovering what's really going on in your gut is a super-important part of this experience. You need to feel comfortable talking to me about your poo, wind, mojo...all sorts! And we can't develop our working relationship in a couple of weeks. 90 days helping you means I get to know what you need, and how it's impacting your well-being.
Goals as unique as you are.
As a 1-2-1 client, you'll receive a bespoke nutrition protocol clearly outlining our aims, goals and timeframe for our time together. For me it's important to get the results you want.
Not everyone experiences gut health issues the same, sometimes it's impacting a client's sleep, other times it is causing them huge embarrassment at work. Whatever your goals, we'll figure out a plan of action!
As we work together, we'll keep referring back to this, checking in on your progress towards the goals. And by the end of the 90 days, you'll have achieved improvements in your digestive symptoms and be experiencing renewed health, energy and wellbeing.
The whole package!
When you're on my 90 day programme, you get amazing tailored recipe bundles with images and recipes to help you on this journey. These take into account your nutritional needs and aren't just a one-size-fits-all PDF!
Not only do we cover what you're eating, I give each of my 1-2-1 clients a detailed supplement plan. Again, this is not a bog-standard approach. Each plan includes tailored therapeutic doses of the supplements your body needs so you can start to feel better. I run a full nutrient and drug analysis to ensure that the supplements you're taking compliment each other and won't interfere with any medication you may be taking.
Your first month of supplements is included at no additional fee! Your supplements will be delivered straight to your door so you won't need to worry about ordering the right ones or where to find them online.
Another benefit of this 90 Days to Better Gut Health is that you can access a range of clinical tests.
Your comprehensive stool test is included as standard when you sign up so we can get to work right away!
As an experienced nutritional therapist, I'm able to provide a vast range of clinical health tests by reputable laboratories you can rely on.
Clinical tests help assess the underlying causes of any imbalances in your body. This valuable information may help determine a more targeted nutritional plan for you. Using a variety of methods including saliva, stool, blood tests, dried urine, with samples analysed at reputable clinical laboratories, we will get to the bottom of the problem.
Working with me on this 90 day programme is the only way you can get a full scope of clinical tests done with me, through the trusted labs I use.
We will get to the root of your gut health issues.
My 90 Days to Better Gut Health is a personalised and structured approach to tackling the imbalances that are contributing to your digestive problems. IBS is simply an umbrella term for gut health issues. I help you identify which gut health imbalance could be causing your uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing symptoms so you can return to a life you love and worry less about food triggers.
Over 90 days, you'll get the follow through and support you need to achieve your desired goals. Because we've got time together, and we can tweak things as we go, you will get the results you've been dreaming of.
If you're ready to quit Googling new diets that might help (from people who might not actually know what they're doing) and instead invest in expert advice that will help you figure out your various ailments, then it's time to take action! Working with me, you'll be safe in the knowledge that I'm a fully qualified and experienced nutritional therapist whose practice is based in scientific fact.
Want to find out more?
Hello! Welcome to Stellar Health.