Gastrointestinal disorders are the absolute shits, literally. If you have ever suffered with ulcerative colitis(UC), Crohn's disease, or irritable bowel syndrome(IBS) you know first hand how uncomfortable, inconvenient, and emotionally taxing these diseases can be. There are few things worse than being doubled over in pain and confined to your home for fear of pooping your pants while out in public. But there is hope my friends, and remission from these diseases can be accomplished with the correct and consistent lifestyle changes.
There are many things to address on the road to remission from UC and Crohn's. Proper sleep, nutrition, identifying food sensitivities, stress relief, sufficient exercise, a supportive community, and the correct medications are all equally important. But today I want to share one life-hack for bowel disorders that I have personally seen work for my patients time and time again. The key is consistency so stay the course, even if it takes three or four months to see results. Make this tool a regular part of your daily routine and you are likely to see results not only for UC and Crohn's disease but also for acid reflux and a number of other disorders.
Time Restricted Eating(TRE). For gastrointestinal disorders this is a game changer, my friends. Dr. Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, is currently doing extensive research on TRE. Not only can it help heal your bowels but it is likely to decrease your risks of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. I highly recommend researching Dr. Panda's work for yourself but for the sake of this article here is skinny on TRE.
Here's how TRE works: Eat all of your meals and snacks within the first 8-12 hour "window" of your day, then fast until breakfast the following morning. For example, if you are doing a 12 hour eating window, your 7am breakfast (break the fast) would start your eating window. From there, go about your normal day but stop all food intake no later than 7pm. Other than water, do not eat again until 7am the next morning. This gives your digestive system a full 12 hour fast to process, assimilate, and rest after your last meal. If 12 hours seems easy or you are already on a similar eating schedule try a 14-16 hour fasting window. I have found for those with UC, IBS, or Crohn's, the best results come from a 14-16 hour fasting window. But start slow and experiment for yourself as you work toward the fasting window that works best for you.
Tips on TRE specifically for gastrointestinal disorders:
This is not a calorie restricted diet! With TRE, you can and should eat the same number of calories that you would normally get during the day. The only difference is that you are getting your calories within a shorter window of time. In other words, stop grazing/snacking after dinner until bedtime. Give your digestive system a full 12-16 hour break from having to process any food.
For UC and Crohn's patients the best results will come from not consuming any food at least 3 hours before bed. A full stomach while sleeping taxes your already compromised digestive track. Let your digestive system sleep while you sleep.
Stay on your meds while exploring TRE, and inform your doctor of your new way of eating.
Stay hydrated. Drink water with a heavy pinch of Himalayan sea salt to help balance electrolytes especially if you are having more than three bowel movements a day.
Eat nutrient dense, well cooked, whole foods. Skip all junk food, fast food, refined sugar, and avoid partially hydrogenated oils at all costs. Bone broths or veggie soups with organic grass-fed beef or chicken stock are usually well tolerated.
Try to avoid all types of grains completely, especially wheat products. Get your carbs from well cooked sweet potatoes, carrots,acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash.
Experiment with TRE and let me know how it goes. Also adding a weekly acupuncture treatment or two will surely compliment your journey back to health. Until next time much happiness and good health!