How to have a healthy gut

Sunday, April 1, 2018

By: Jeff Ash

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That growly feeling in your gut might a sign of irritable bowel syndrome. It sounds nasty, and it’s uncomfortable, but it can be treated.


April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. It’s a time to recognize that about 1 in 5 Americans has IBS. Women get IBS more often than men. It can be a young person’s problem. IBS starts before age 35 in about half of the people who get it.


The good news is that IBS doesn’t cause cancer or other health problems.


The bad news is there’s no medical test to diagnose IBS. Instead, doctors track its symptoms. People with IBS often complain of:


  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Constipation or diarrhea, or both

What causes IBS? Researchers aren’t sure. Stress is a big factor.


“Finding healthy ways to manage stress is important for GI health, and your health overall,” Dr. Lin Chang, a gastrointestinal expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells News In Health, a newsletter from the National Institutes of Health.


Dr. Lynn Wagner, a physician with Integrative Lifestyle Medicine BayCare Clinic, agrees.


“If you have IBS, minimize stress in your life and learn to be resilient against stress you cannot control,” Wagner says.


Certain foods may contribute to IBS, but there’s no diet to prevent it. IBS also could be caused by a change in bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, also known as the gut.


Wagner offers these nutrition tips for improving gut health:


  • Remove highly processed foods from your diet.
  • Remove excessive sugars from your diet.
  • Don’t eat foods that cause inflammation.
  • Adopt a more plant-based diet, meaning more of your diet comes from plants than anything else.
  • Enjoy five to seven servings of vegetables each day.
  • Enjoy fermented foods, including kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir.
  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women, two for men) or abstain from alcohol.
  • Use probiotics (healthful bacteria supplements) to rebuild a healthy gut. They may ease constipation and IBS symptoms.
  • Use supplements to help lower inflammation and boost healing.

Related Providers:

Wagner Lynn

Dr. Lynn Wagner is an integrative lifestyle medicine physician with BayCare Clinic. She is fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine and offers this increasingly popular approach to healthcare to patients in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Dr. Wagner is also board certified in Emergency Medicine which gives her a unique combination of skills to care for her patients. 


Away from the office, the Green Bay area native enjoys running, cycling with her family, hiking, spending time with her family and relishes the excitement of all the outdoors activities Wisconsin’s winter season has to offer.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.