The Gut Brain connection - gastrocolic reflex

The Gut-Brain Connection | Part 2 : Gastrocolic Reflex

Welcome to the next part of ‘The Gut Brain Connection Series’ here I want to go into details about what triggers bowel movements and why some people have IBS-D and why some have IBS-C. I have mentioned before serotonin plays a major role in gut motility, but what does serotonin do exactly, to make our bowels work they way they do.

The average person has an sufficient amount of serotonin which is most active in the early morning, after eating, and exercise. As a result the gastrocolic reflex is triggered, in-turn creating peristalsis (the wave like motions of the bowel), which moves down the colon and we have an urge to have a bowel movement. However in sufferers of IBS they have either a hyperactive or  hypoactive gastrocolic reflex and this is the effect of IBS-D or IBS-C.

Keeping in mind that there are many factors to what can influence the digestive system such as dietary, psychological and physiological.

 Treatment Through Diet

Hypoactive Gastrocolic Reflex

If you suffer with IBS-C (constipation dominant) you will want to trigger your gastrocolic reflex, follow these simple tips to help you encourage bowel stimulation in a naturally gentle approach.

  • Eat food in a higher fat content. There are lots of good fats out there for you to incorporate into your diet.
  • Follow a Low FODMAP Diet to avoid trigger foods
  • Eat carbohydrates but try to limit carbs with high starch content to a minimum
  • Drink plenty of water (2-2.5 litres per day)
  • Avoid Lactose & Gluten products as they can irritate the bowel
  • Exercise daily to raise serotonin levels which also encourages bowel movement
  • Balance your protein. Protein can cause constipation if taken in high quantities as your body uses water to brake it down in the liver. Protein such as fish, quinoa and smooth peanut butter are easy on the digestive tract.
  • Take daily supplements to aid in digestive health
  • Avoid Meat product such as pork, chicken, mutton, beef etc. It can produce gas and as the protein and fats disrupt the good bacteria in the gut.
  • Get adequate soluble fibre
  • Take a high grade probiotic with 3-5 billion live bacteria (Lactobacilli Acidophilus)

Hyperactive Gastrocolic Reflex

For those who suffer with IBS-D (Diarrhea dominant) you will want to relax your gastrocolic reflex and stop it from going into over drive. Below I have listed tips to follow to help ease you symptoms.

  • Eat little and often this will help your bowel to move food through slowly.
  • Follow a low FODMAP diet to help
  • Avoid foods high in fat content
  • Take daily supplements to reduce IBS symptoms
  • Meat is a good source of protein for IBS-D sufferers
  • Avoid Lactose & Gluten products as they can irritate the bowel
  • Take a high grade probiotic with 3-5 billion live bacteria (Lactobacilli Acidophilus)
  • Drink plenty of water (2-2.5 litres per day)
  • Avoid large doses of alcohol and caffeinated drinks as they cause inflammation

Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of why some of us are left desperately scouting for a toilet while the rest of us are unable to even need the toilet. I hope this has also given you an onsite into the right foods to eat and how to alleviate certain symptoms of IBS.

Please leave a comment below and tell us what your experiences are like with living with IBS!


Related posts

The Gut-Brain Connection | Part 1 : Serotonin

Colonic Inertia

Chronic Constipation




Gastrointestinal Reflex Pathways






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