How Being Homeless Cured My IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (abbreviated as IBS) is a very common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It can be very mild in some cases or debilitating and life-disrupting in others. The causes of IBS are unknown because there are many different possible causes. For some people, a tragic or stressful event can trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome for the first time, while others can first see symptoms after an infection or other stomach problem. IBS symptoms can vary from person to person and can change each day in individual cases. One person may have diarrhea while another person may have chronic constipation or nausea. Some people, like myself, experienced a little of everything (though I dealt with constipation, pain, and nausea a lot more than diarrhea or other problems). Although many people may have to endure IBS for as much as 10 years or longer, in other people it often goes away and never returns again. Treatment varies for each person, so one method that worked for one person may not work for another person. But since I cured my IBS and eventually got rid of it, I'll share some of the things I did and changes I made in my life and maybe they'll help you too or someone you know who is suffering from it.
I lived with IBS for about 3 years and then one day I became homeless. I immediately began to panic, not only because I was out on the streets for the first time, but because I worried about having to deal with my IBS without having an accessible bathroom nearby at all times. But much to my surprise, for the first time in 3 years I had cured my IBS unintentionally. Becoming homeless had forced me to make many changes in my life and stick with them, and these changes almost immediately started to help me with my bowel problems. When I had lived in a house and worked from home, I made many attempts to cure my IBS and had changed my diet and taken other steps that I had read about on the internet, but I wasn't consistent and I was most likely only taking one step at a time instead of doing them all at once. I'm not implying that you should become homeless to try to treat your IBS, but you should follow the things I did, which you can do from home. So below are the steps I was forced to take when I ended up on the streets and I believe most of these steps are what helped me finally get relief and get rid of IBS for good. Just make sure to take all steps at once, rather than one step at a time. I can't pinpoint exactly which steps were helpful and which were not, but I do believe it was a combination of at least 2 or more of the steps below which finally cured me of IBS.
When I lived in a home I had full control over the food I ate and when I would eat it. But once I was out on the streets I had to eat at homeless shelters initially. This forced me to eat at certain times and I believe this was the most crucial step in overcoming my Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Your stomach and bowels don't necessarily have a brain, but they are still organs and have to handle the workload you give them. If you give them an easy workload, such as a small snack, it's much easier for the body to digest and clear that workload than it would be for a large meal. Just like workers at a factory, it's probably best to give the body certain times to do work, rather than throwing a workload at it at any random time. If the bowels get used to digesting at certain times, it's probably much easier for them to digest and process that food. So you should try to schedule your meals and don't stray off course from your schedule. Eat breakfast at around the same time each day, and the same for lunch and dinner. Let your body get used to these scheduled times and try not to eat at times that are not part of the usual schedule. You should also try to eliminate snacking from your daily routine, because this may add more workload to your stomach or intestine and complicate things. If you start to see improvement in your IBS, then maybe you can try to gradually reintroduce snacks into your diet.
I'm sure you've already read this on the internet on plenty of websites, but it really can't be stressed enough. Eating healthy is key to getting rid of IBS. You can follow all the other steps, but they definitely won't work if you're still eating junk food or foods that are hard for the body to process. Try to change your diet and eat foods that are not any of the following: greasy, high in fat, highly-processed, high in carbohydrates, high in sugar. If you steer clear of these types of foods, it may be the only step you'll need to take. I personally tried this one step alone and it didn't help much, but once I combined this step with all the other steps listed in this article, I finally found relief. So give it a try and remember to stick with it. One cupcake or a few pieces of processed bread can immediately trigger your IBS. I thought I was eating healthy at home, but I wasn't including enough variation in my diet. I was eating the same foods on many days and each meal consisted of only one or two types of foods. Once I had to visit homeless shelters for food I started to eat healthier meals, mainly because each tray of food contained fruits and vegetables, in addition to the main meal. I started eating much more strawberries, apples, blueberries, lettuce and things like this. Also, each meal had much less of the unhealthy extras such as salad dressing and mayonnaise. So I was eating a much more natural diet that the body was designed to handle better than an unnatural one. In addition to this, I was also eating more natural foods that contain fiber, which probably helped soften and loosen stools and move things along more naturally and easily.
Drinking lots of water goes hand in hand with eating healthy. Many people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome suffer from constipation on a regular basis. For myself, this was my biggest problem. Once I was on the streets, I had to walk everywhere instead of sitting inside in a chair all day. I was walking everywhere and it was hot outside so I had to drink lots of water and fluids. Like the fiber that I had added to my diet, this may have played a role in softening stools and keeping the body hydrated and the intestines lubricated and running smoothly. I had previously tried drinking lots of water when I was living at home, but it may have helped while in combination with one or more of these other steps.
It's no secret amongst IBS sufferers that stress can cause problems for the digestive system and lead to stomach problems. It also wouldn't be too much of a stretch for one to say that being homeless leads to more stress. This is both true and untrue. In my particular situation, I was very stressed out the first week that I was on the streets. But after I began to learn my way around the city and get into the groove of things, I started to feel more comfortable and confident. All the walking I was doing probably helped me reduce my stress because it's been proven that exercising can help a person think more positively and get rid of anxiety as well. Well I suffered from anxiety and depression for a long time and the first time I had felt good in a long time was during that second week of being homeless. I'm also a hypochondriac, and I was worrying about my health a lot less during this period as well. So it may have been because I was walking a lot, or it may have been because my mind was preoccupied with getting off the streets and my day-to-day routine. It may have also have been a lack of responsibilities in my life and less financial or other problems to worry about. Whatever it was, something about being homeless made me feel less stressed. So you should take whatever measures you have to take to get over your stress or anxiety if you have any.
When you're living on the streets, you have no choice but to walk long distances everywhere. When I lived in a home, I would workout and do lots of pushups and weight-lifting. But as I already mentioned, you want to lower your stress and these types of exercises can put more stress on the body and even the mind. Walking casually for an hour each day is a much better exercise for people with IBS in my opinion. I think it helps the body regulate the digestive system better, but without all the strenuous activity involved in other types of exercises. Exercising also causes the body to produce more endorphins, which are known as the "feel-good neurotransmitters". So not only can it directly aid your digestive system, but it can also improve your mental well-being which leads to less stress. Like the scheduled meals I mentioned, it may be best to exercise at the same each day. As far as whether it's better to eat before or after exercising, it's up to you and either one may help your IBS. Try both methods but for different periods. For example, on week 1 and week 2, try eating before you exercise (but remember to wait at least 1-2 hours until after you've eaten to allow your body time to digest). Then, if you're not seeing an improvement, try to eat after you exercise on week 3 and week 4.
When I was homeless, I would sleep on the street outside a shelter, but in the parking lot of another business next door to the shelter. The business owner said we could sleep there, but said that we need to be out of there by 6 AM, since that's around the time when he would show up in the morning and open up the business. This was real hard for me to get used to at first because I'm naturally a night owl and sometimes a bit of an insomniac every now and then. But I believe that regular sleep helped me stay on a regular eating schedule. Instead of staying up all night and being tempted to eat snacks or waking up late and eating meals at different times each day, I was forced to get up at the same time each morning and I would naturally fall asleep at the same time each night. Now I don't know why I was able to fall asleep so easily each night, but it was either because I was walking a lot everyday and my body was just naturally tired or it's because I was waking up so early in the morning without having the opportunity to take a nap at any time throughout the day. Either way, I was able to fall asleep at 9 or 10 PM each night and wake up at 6 AM, and this probably helped my IBS for various reasons.
When I was living in a house, I would work on the computer or watch TV while eating and continue to do the same even after eating. Sitting or laying down after a meal can cause more stress on your digestive tract as it works harder to break down the foods you just ate. Even though exercising can cause problems for some people who exercise directly after eating, I feel that casually walking after each meal probably helped me overcome my Irritable Bowel Syndrome because I was standing straight up after each meal. I would often walk from a shelter or soup kitchen to another location and would be standing upwards most of the time. This may or may not have played a role in my being cured, but you should definitely give it a try if you're the type who sits down or contorts the body after eating.
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