Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Physical Therapy

IBSFiona McMahon, DPT

Hello everyone! April was Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) Awareness Month. Although, we are a bit late, we wanted to take some time to talk about IBS and what can be done to help with its symptoms. IBS can present in different ways. People with IBS may experience diarrhea or constipation, or both. At Beyond Basics, we work with issues associated with IBS, from ensuring that your digestive organs move well in order to function properly, to toilet posture, to training the pelvic floor to have the coordination to help you toilet comfortably.

Tips for living with irritable bowel and other digestive symptoms

Posture

Over the years we have used our blog to discuss many different tips, tricks, and techniques you can use at home to make the process of having a bowel movement just a bit easier. The first thing you can do is super simple: sit on the toilet with good posture. There are heaps of ways to sit on the toilet and believe it or not, there is an optimal way to sit and poop. The reason why the way we sit is so important is the anal rectal angle. The anal rectal angle refers to the angle of your rectum. When we stand and sit our angle is more bent or acute, which makes it harder for poop to drop out of out of our rectums (yay!), which increases our chances of continence. But when we are trying to poop, we want our anal rectal angle to straighten out so it is easier to poop and we don’t have to strain. The position that best allows us to do that is squatting, the way one would over an eastern style toilet. Most of us have western style commodes that don’t allow for a nice anal rectal angle opening squat. So we have to get creative. By placing a stool or the now ubiquitous squatty potty under your feet you can simulate a squat and allow for easier passage of stool. For more on posture, check out Sara Paplanus’s blog on posture and bowel movements.

Diet

veggies

Diet is a very important thing to consider when trying to optimize your bowel movements. The first thing we usually consider is fiber. There are two types of fiber. Soluable and insoluable. Soluble dissolve in water and allows the stool to absorb water and adds mass and heft ( in a good way) to your feces. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can help push the poo out. The fact is we need to balance both types and most of us aren’t getting enough. In addition, some people need more of one type and some need more of the other or else you can end up with increased gas and bloating. Read how you can increase your fiber intake here. If you are having difficulty balancing the two or are not sure which to add, it is best to seek advice from an expert nutritionist in abdomino-pelvic pain and IBS.

Water Intake

The colon, the last stop for poop before it enters your rectum is the place where water is absorbed from the stool. In cases where you are too dehydrated, your body will recycle water anywhere it can, including your stool. If too much water is taken from your stool, it can be dry and hard to push out. We suggest drinking about one half your body weight in ounces of water daily and even slightly more if you are constipated, sweat a lot or suffer from IBS. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, drink 100 ounces of water to make sure to ease your bowel movements.water-life-crop

Physical Therapy

Pelvic floor physical therapy can help a lot with issues with IBS. In last year’s IBS awareness blog, we discussed the benefits of pelvic floor PT

“Dysfunction in organs can also cause dysfunction in the skeletal muscles that are close by. This is called the visceral-somatic reflex. One of the most common examples is when someone feels left arm pain when they are having a heart attack. The dysfunction in the heart causes pain and spasm in nearby muscles. The same thing can happen when the gut is irritated in conditions like IBS. Typically, people with IBS will feel pain and spasm in the muscles of their abdomen and pelvic floor as a result of repeated irritation in their gut. To add insult to injury, spasm in the pelvic floor, (specifically the levator ani and sphincter muscles) can adversely affect the passage of stool out of the body and make symptoms even worse.

Pelvic floor physical therapy can help symptoms caused by the visceral somatic reflex greatly. At Beyond Basics we have an excellent crew of pelvic floor physical therapists with expertise in visceral mobilization and pelvic floor dysfunction. Our physical therapists can work to eliminate painful spasms, mobilize restrictions, retrain the muscles and teach self-management techniques to keep symptoms at bay, or to eliminate some of the symptoms in the future.”

 

IBS is an important condition that affects many different people. Although there currently is no cure for IBS, there is a lot you can do to make living with this condition more manageable. If part, or all, of the symptoms are from musculoskeletal dysfunctions of the pelvic floor and abdomen, than there IS a cure and we are here to help! If you are suffering, please make an appointment with us today.

Sources

R Saeed. Impact of Ethnic habits on defecographic measurements. Arch Iranian Med 2002; 5(2) 115-16

PH101: Does My Diet Really Matter?

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Gluten free, soy free, low FODMAP. It’s amazing how many diets there are out there that really can  provide people with symptom relief. If you are suffering with chronic pain you may be confused on where to start, or what is right for you. You also may have tried out a bunch of different ways of eating, not seen results and have gotten really frustrated. If this is the case for you, I highly encourage you to come to our next pelvic health seminar on April 6th at 7pm, “Does my diet really matter”.

jessica-drummond-headshot-197x300This seminar will be hosted by a special guest speaker, nutritionist Jessica Drummond. Jessica Drummond is a former pelvic floor physical therapist who now specializes in nutrition for those suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction. This seminar was a hit last year and is a great starting point for those considering adding nutrition as part of their healing journey.

Register at pelvichealth-101.eventbrite.com  today.

 

 

Location

110 East 42nd Street, Suite 1504

New York, NY

10017

BBPT Health Tip: Eat your Fiber

fiber-1280x720

Fiona McMahon, DPT, PT

What is fiber?

Fiber, it’s the hot ticket. It is being marketed to us like crazy. But why is fiber is so important? What fiber is best? Should you get more fiber with supplements? Let’s take a closer look into the benefits of fiber in this edition of BBPT’s Health tips.

Fiber is the part of food that we cannot digest. It is separated into two types, soluble and insoluble. Both bulk up the contents of your stomach and colon, which can help you feel more full but after that, the similarities end.

As the name implies, soluble fiber dissolves in water but insoluble does not. Insoluble fiber increases the mass of the stool and helps to get things moving, in terms of passing feces. Soluble fiber absorbs water. The truth is, most people are not getting enough fiber. Less than half of people in the United States consume the recommended amount of fiber. Let’s discuss the benefits of fiber and how to make sure you are getting enough.

So what if you don’t have issues going number 2? What else can fiber help you with?

Fiber has been shown to help with reducing the risk of the following conditions:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Fiber has also been shown to:

  • Improve insulin sensitivity in people who have diabetes
  • Enhance weight loss
  • Improve GI conditions like acid reflux, duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids
  • Enhance the function of the immune system

How much to eat and where to get it?

Men under 50 years and under should consume at least 38 grams of fiber daily, Women under 50 should consume at least 25 grams of fiber daily. Women over 50 should eat at least 21 grams and men over 50 should get 30.  Those who suffer from constipation may add more to your diet.   We suggest contacting a nutritionist for proper amounts of soluble versus insoluble in these cases and anyone with a history of GI issues.  Also, please discuss with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.  

Adding  fiber to your diet when you are not used to it can sometimes be a little difficult. If you add too much too quickly, you may experience gas and bloating. Start slow and work your way up.  Also, drink plenty of water.

Start by adding in whole wheat items (unless you have a gluten sensitivity), legumes, fruits, and vegetables slowly to your diet. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s full list of fiber rich foods here .

Sources

Anderson J, Baird P, Davis R, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009. 67(4)188-205

Family Doctor.org Decermber 2010: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/fiber-how-to-increase-the-amount-in-your-diet.printerview.all.html. Accessed November 11, 2016.

Medlineplus. Soluble vs. insoluble fiber.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.htm. Accessed November 17,2016.  

BBPT Health Tips: Its Pumpkin Time!

 

Pumpkin patch

 

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Like it or not, we are creeping closer to the official start of fall. Maybe you recognize the start of fall with bulky sweaters, putting away your white clothing, or going apple picking. One fall tradition that has gotten super hot over the past few years is the celebration of all things pumpkin: pumpkin flavored coffee, candles, chapstick, etc. Basically pumpkin flavored everything. But did you know that actual pumpkin, not just the flavoring, is good for you? In this blog we will run down some health benefits as well as sharing a couple recipes to help you get your pumpkin on!

1. Pumpkins are loaded with antioxidants
• Pumpkins contain heaps of vitamin A, which is essential for protecting your eyesight. They also contain the vital nutrients, thiamin and folate
• The antioxidants in pumpkin can help to fight cancer and improve the look of aging skin
2. Pumpkins are full of fiber
• They can help you poop! Their high fiber content can also help you to feel fuller longer, and may help you lose weight
3. Pumpkin Seeds are good for your heart
• Pumpkin seeds contain loads of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which can be protective for your heart.

Pumpkin SmoothiePumpkin+Smoothie9-2
• 1 cup of purée, (you can go for canned, but try to avoid brands with added sugar)
• 1 ripe banana
• 1 cup milk (soymilk, almond milk, and coconut milk all make excellent substitutes for the lactose intolerant)
• 1 tablespoon sweetener, like agave or honey
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 ¼ pumpkin pie spice
• 5 ice cubes
• For added thickness throw in a couple tablespoons of oatmeal
Add to blender and blend until smooth. Serves 2

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

roasted-pumpkin-seeds
You can make these bad boys into a savory or sweet snack. Based on your preferences, it all comes down to what spices you add. This recipe is for fresh pumpkin seeds:
• Preheat oven to 300F
• Rinse seeds and remove residual pumpkin residue
• Roast your pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes
• Toss seeds with olive
• Season with your favorite spices, like cinnamon sugar or curry spices
• Return to oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes

Let us know how you celebrate all things pumpkin in the comments!

Easy as Pumpkin Pie

Now that you and your fellow bloggers have heightened levels of fiber consciousness, you will be happy to know that one of this season’s favorite vegetables, the pumpkin, is a healthy-eater’s new best friend. Not only are pumpkins chock full of fiber (3.5 grams per half cup of canned pumpkin, 1.5 grams per quarter cup of seeds) and protein (7 grams per 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas), but they also contain Vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These vitamins and minerals collectively help tame free radicals, preserve healthy bones and teeth, fight cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, and improve the immune system.  Furthermore, pumpkins contain carotenoids (like carrots, hence the orange color) which has anti-infection and anti-aging properties. Pumpkins pack a powerful punch!  (Try saying that one five times fast!)

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll be on your way. Select a pumpkin that is heavy for its size, ideally a small pumpkin that weighs between 2 and 5 pounds. Whole pumpkins can be stored for up to six months, preferably in a cool dry location. Once they are opened they should be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days if raw or 4-5 days if cooked. Pumpkins may also be frozen once opened. Try out the recipes below to add some pumpkin spice and flavor to your healthy life! Enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Brown Rice

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Pie

An Ounce of Prevention

Join us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in celebrating this September, “Fruit and Veggies- More Matters Month” with the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of maintaining pelvic floor health by providing fiber, a crucial bulking agent that contributes to normal stool consistency. In addition, adequate fiber intake promotes the normal movement of stool through the large intestine (colon).

There are two main types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber allows for proper sugar absorption in the stomach, and it decreases the amount of harmful low density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the bloodstream.  Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, dried peas, prunes, psyllium husks, nuts, barley, oranges, pears, peaches and apples.  Insoluble fiber is directly related to the passing of regular bowel movement, to preventing constipation, and to maintaining a healthy pH in the large intestine.  Foods that provide insoluble fiber include whole wheat products, brown rice, popcorn, green beans, potato skins, cauliflower, and flax seeds.

Constipation prevention and maintaining normal bowel movements is an important piece in pelvic floor health.  Otherwise, excessive straining and bearing down while attempting to pass a bowel movement can overly stretch and stress the pelvic floor muscle.  This may result in pelvic organ prolapse.  Healthy, normal bowel movements stimulated by proper fiber intake is the best form of prevention.  Nutrition labels can be include information about the amount of dietary fiber per serving, so try to be mindful of your fiber intake- aim for 25-35 grams per day.  Just make sure to drink enough water to ensure proper movement of the fiber through your system- aim for 8 cups of 8 fluid ounces of water per day.   Happy fruit and veggie month!