#005 Check Out How Exercise Can Benefit IBS Sufferers

Nutritionist and fitness expert Delina Rahmate explains the importance of overall fitness for those who suffer from IBS. She lays out a sensible plan to ease IBS symptoms with a doable plan of action specifically tailored to utilise exercise and nutrition in tangent to help those who suffer from IBS.

Delina specialises in nutritional supplementation, weight loss programs, nutrition and lifestyle advice, holistic athlete nutritional plans and holistic nutritional medicine.
In this episode, you’ll find out:

● What keeps Delina Rahmate current in the fitness industry?
● How important is exercise in our lives?
● Social, mental and physical benefits of exercise.
● How exercise helps IBS sufferers.
● What is the big cause of IBS?
● Types of exercise that we can do even at home.
● When is the best time to exercise?
● Advisable fitness level and duration.
● Tips for a low or no budget exercise.
● The first thing to do before deciding to exercise.

Quote for this podcast episode: “Exercise releases endorphin into our body, so we feel amazing when we’ve exercised.”

Can’t listen to this episode right now? Read the transcript below!


Larah: Hi, and welcome to the low FODMAP diet and IBS podcast. I am your host, Larah, and today I would like to introduce you to my good friend and personal trainer, Delina Rahmate.
I just wanted to tell you a couple of things about Delina. She has a lot of qualifications. It’s just incredible how she managed to get all of these qualifications while raising a family at the same time. She is a qualified nurse, a nutritionist, a teacher, a fitness specialist and personal trainer, a yoga instructor and she is also specialised in athlete nutrition, so it will be really interesting to chat with her about the benefit of exercising and the benefit of being fit while also suffering from IBS. Anyway, here is my guest Delina.

Larah: Hi Delina.

Delina: Hi. How are you going?

Larah: Very good and I’m very excited to have you here. So first of all, as we just heard, yes, you have a lot of qualifications, but what is it that you’re working on the most at the moment?

Delina: At the moment, I’m working as a nutritionist and a lot of athletes come to me for specialised nutrition programs. I also work with the general population, so sometimes it’s people with IBS, different other gut problems, even mental health problems, female hormone issues, whatever it is that’s going on with their bodies. Besides that, I do a little bit of personal training and I also work at a fitness centre where I teach a few classes. So that’s to keep me current in the fitness industry as I own my own training organisation where I deliver fitness courses. I actually teach people how to become personal trainers, hence my teaching qualifications and my fitness background.

Larah: That’s fantastic. I’m very grateful that I got to meet you and that you’re my personal trainer and keep me doing all the exercise I would rather not do. But it is paying off. It’s working so I’m very grateful for that. With your experience, how important do you think it is it to exercise in our lives?

Delina: Well exercise is really beneficial in so many ways for us. it’s physically beneficial, as well as mentally and socially beneficial. So exercise, as most of us know, we know that it’s going to help with our heart, our lungs, disease prevention, obesity prevention and all the associated diseases, that may occur if we’re obese such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and many other diseases associated with that.
The other thing is exercise is a chance for us to make really good social connections. So hence, meeting you Larah, you know that’s been wonderful that we found each other and we’ve became friends as well. It’s a great place, if you join a gym or just a community type group — it might be a running group, it might be a social tennis club, it might be a walking group, or going to swimming. You tend to run into people who are like-minded as yourself, so you start to develop those really important social elements to your life.
The other thing that exercise does is it releases endorphins into our body so we feel amazing when we exercise, even if it’s really hard for us while we’re doing it. Afterwards, we usually get really uplifting type feeling, which makes us feel better. Then we usually make healthier choices in our lives, so it’s wonderful for mental health. And also, as parents, as many of us are, you tend to find when you get home and you’ve done your thing — you’ve had your exercise — you tend to be a little bit more patient with your family, a little bit more… I don’t know, you seem to be able to cope with things in your life just a little bit better.

Larah: Yeah. That’s sounds really great. But now, I want you to be just a bit more specific on how it relates to IBS sufferers. In your opinion, how can exercise specifically help IBS symptoms?

Delina: Exercise can help IBS. There’s a few ways that it actually helps IBS. Research has shown us that a big cause of IBS is stress. Many IBS sufferers are under a chronic stress, and exercise is a wonderful way for us to relieve stress. There are many different ways that we can do exercise. We could do it in forms of aerobic exercise which might mean walking, swimming or riding a bike. We can do exercise such as yoga. We can do exercise such as swimming — whatever the person actually enjoys doing — and that way, we start to get some stress relief in our lives. So it really helps with that and it also actually helps with your digestion and your digestive system. It’s a really important thing for IBS sufferers, that effect on the digestive system.
The other thing that exercise does is it helps… I’ll just to explain first what happens under stress; that might be a good place to start. So when we are really stressed, we are going into fight/flight. So most of us have heard of fight/flight and we understand that we are either going to fight something or get the hell away from it. So when we’re in fight/flight, we have this rush of hormones. We have cortisol released in the body, adrenaline, plus a few other hormones are released really strongly in the body. When that happens, our blood flow diverts to our muscles rather than to our digestive system. Also, our heart rate increases, and when we don’t get any blood flow to our digestive system, basically, the digestive system slows down, or shuts down, or we might actually have to go to the toilet and get an upset tummy. So it tends to have that effect.
What exercise can do, provided that it’s not too stressful on the body at the time. So if you’ve got a really chronic case of IBS and you’re out there exercising with super high intensity, you might be still putting your body in that heavy fight/flight response. If we do exercise that’s very calming for the body or things where we can get time out, swimming, they are a little bit more gentle. What we can do is start to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system. So that’s why yoga is so important. You hear that yoga is really good for stress relief for people.
So what happens in yoga? Yoga is actually about breathing. When we breathe properly, and we breathe really deep into our diaphragm, which is the full lungs, we actually stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, we get more blood flow to the digestive system. So it’s actually called the ‘rest and digest’ system and hence, we then to start to calm back down. So for IBS sufferers, something like yoga is really, really lovely. There’s a certain yoga that would be better for IBS, and that’s something we call Yin Yoga. That’s the more calming yoga. You can still do really strong powerful yoga that could be a little bit too strong depending on the person and where they’re at with that whole process of IBS.

Larah: Yeah. That’s fantastic information Delina and it makes me think that the exercises for IBS sufferers should be more on the gentle side to reduce stress rather than just exercise really intensively?

Delina: Yeah. That’s a really good question because it really depends on the person and where they’re at physically as well as their physical health. So if somebody is sedentary, and that means that they don’t do any exercise at all, you can’t start high intensity exercise. It’s going to hurt too much and it’s actually going to cause more stress than you already have. So what you need to do is develop what we call a base level of fitness. So you start more gently. You might exercise 3 times a week; that might be enough for you right now. And then it might be 20 minutes to 30 minutes of walking, swimming, riding a bike or yoga, something like that, and if you can do that 3 times a week, that’s a good start. And then as you get fitter, then you start to increase it to 5 days a week and your duration might even increase from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, or even up to an hour of exercise a day. You might even start exercising 7 days a week. Then we might move into it a little bit higher level of fitness. And then on some of those days of the week, we could start to put little bouts of more intensity, but we would still want to focus, on some days, where we do the more calming style of exercise.

Larah: That’s great. Now I understand why you started with me the way you have. Obviously, I wasn’t very fit and quite a bit overweight so I needed to have the gentle approach. Is there a best time to exercise, like morning rather than afternoon or rather than evening, or does it matter? As long as you exercise, anytime is good?

Delina: Again, that probably depends on the person and their IBS. If your IBS symptoms get really bad in the afternoons, then going exercising then is probably going to be really uncomfortable, or even embarrassing for you. So it might be better if you wake up in the morning and you’re finding that’s when you you’re at your best — you’ve got less bloating; you’ve got fewer problems with toileting or whatever is going on — then that would be the better time for you to exercise. However, we still have to live and reality sets in. We have kids, families, work, finance and all the other things that are going on that we’ve got to manage in our lives. So it might mean that you only have a window of opportunity at lunch time that you might be able to take advantage of, or in the afternoons. So it really depends on how your time is available to you. If things are really quite tough, I’d probably suggest working in the comfort, doing some form of home exercise that you could do in the comfort of your own home if you’re a little bit worried about having a few IBS issues in a public-type setting.

Larah: Yes, some very good tips there. Another thing I was wondering, looking at how busy you are and all the knowledge that you have, how do you combine your knowledge of nutrition and exercise to work out the best plan for a person that wants to lose weight, or more, that wants to reduce fat like what you’ve done with me? How do you combine the whole exercise and nutrition part of it?

Delina: Yeah. That’s where nutrition can get quite interesting because it’s definitely not a one size fits-all approach. We really need to look at the person as an individual person. So we don’t just want to download a diet that says it’s this many calories for the day because that might have a lot of things in it that don’t actually suit your body, depending on what is the root cause of your issues. I then look at what exercise you’ve incorporated into your day. You might exercise hard on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; You might have rest days on Tuesday or Thursday or do something more passively; or you might not do anything and you’re just in the office setting in a chair. So obviously, on the days when you’re just sitting in a chair and you’re not exercising, you don’t need as much fuel. We don’t want to overfill the tank like the car, and we want to make sure that we’re putting in perhaps a little bit less food, but really high-dense nutrient value food into the body.
On the days when we’re working out a little bit harder, then we look at when you’re exercising and how intense, and then we fuel around that. So if you’re working out in the morning, you might need a little bit more for breakfast, even lunch, but then by dinner, if you’re fuelled enough then you’ve restored what we call muscle glycogen post exercise; we really need to get those stores back into our muscles to prevent fatigue and then to help us exercise again when the next bout comes up. We need to do that. Usually by night time, you find that if you’ve eaten really well in the day, you don’t really get sugar cravings or carbohydrate cravings at night. You should go into that dinner feeling, “Yeah, I’m a little bit hungry,” and then choose healthier foods for dinner. Then give your body a little bit of time before you go to sleep so that your body can do its job of restoring rather than be just trying to digest all night. So the body really needs that time to rest to repair any damage that’s been done. So if it’s busy digesting, you don’t get around to doing that as well and it might disturb our sleep and all sorts of things like that.

Larah: Thank you, Delina. What would you say to people who can’t afford a personal trainer and they don’t have that much knowledge on exercise — how to do it correctly and if that’s the right exercise for them? Are there any tips that you could give to those people?

Delina: Yeah. So it’s quite easy to go for a walk. First of all, I would recommend anyone who has any kind of disease in their body, or if you are over obese or even overweight and obese — you might have sore knees or ankles, hips and you might find you get breathless quite easy, whatever might be happening — I recommend you to go to a doctor first and make sure that the doctor thinks that exercise is okay for you right now and that you don’t need any intervention.
So once you’ve been cleared by the doctor to do that, you’ve got a few options. So something like starting off with swimming is a really wonderful type of exercise that’s not too impacting on the body. So if you’ve got the knee injuries or anything like that, swimming is a lovely way to stay a little bit cool if you live in a hot climate. There are also little swimming squads that you can join. I joined a swimming squad because I didn’t grow up as a swimmer and they looked after me so lovely and taught me how to swim properly. I walked out there in flippers for the first time until I improved, and they really looked after and taught me how to swim, and then I could confidently swim on my own.
Walking is wonderful provided you don’t have any injuries that might prevent that. The other thing that’s really good is hopping on a bike, be it an exercise bike or a bike that you can ride around. We’ve taken that impact out of the body, and that’s really going to help us. So that’s a good place to start. Some gyms have quite cheap memberships. There are also lots of community type groups available. A lot of places where we live in Northern New South Wales on the southern end of the Gold Coast, there’s a lot of free services available for exercise. They have Tai-Chi groups, active walking groups and different types of active programs, so it’s pretty much a Google search away for you so you can find something. Some people even do like a dance class. They’re going there to learn to dance so it’s a bit fun and you’re having a little fun while you’re exercising. So there’s a lot of ways that you can do things without having to have a personal trainer and without even having to go to a gym, if that’s not in your budget.

Larah: I know. This is very true. We are so fortunate and blessed to be living in a place that offers just so many opportunities to exercise for no cost or low cost. As you mentioned, you can go for a walk near the beach and you will see people doing Tai-Chi, and that has been paid for by the Council so it’s available for anyone who wants to do that. There is even a different type of weight machine near the beach and they’re all the way around the Gold Coast on the beaches. They’re free. Plus, all day swimming activities as well, you know. The ocean is free — and walking on the beach!

Delina: We’re really blessed here. So perhaps, if you’re living in a more remote community, which some of the listeners may be, you might not have that access. There’s nothing to stop you getting with a few of your friends — you might be mums with babies, you could start a little mums walking group. I know that happens around here. A group of mums come out with their prams, they go for a walk and they finish off at the park. Kids play on the swings and things, and the mums sit and have a chat and it becomes a really nice social outlet for you. There’s nothing to ever stop us walking unless the weather is so bad that we’re unable to do that. If you’re living in a dangerous area, you could access different things online. You can download — there’s just multiple things. You can download yoga online; you can download a little cardio workout. Just make sure that the exercise looks safe when you’re having a look, or maybe look at the person that’s posting that. What are their qualifications so you know that you’re actually doing something that is good for you rather than something that might actually hurt your body.

Larah: Yeah, absolutely. I just recently started to follow this yoga through a YouTube channel and the lady that teaches it is absolutely fantastic. They’re only like a half an hour, so it’s just perfect because I can fit it in at any time of the day. Although there are lots of yoga places I can go, they usually take 1 hour or 1 ½ hours plus I have to go there, apart from the cost. This I can do for free in my house in half an hour and it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing; it doesn’t matter if it’s in between waking up and having breakfast. So it’s very good that we have that opportunity now.
Is there anything else that you can think of that will benefit my listeners who are mainly IBS sufferers? Or have any other digestive issue?

Delina: Yeah. Make sure that you talk to somebody who’s qualified, and by talking to them, actually find out what is the cause. You might have a FODMAPs problem within and you might need to go on a low FODMAP diet. You might have something else that’s setting you off, so it’s really important to go along and talk to someone. You might need to have some blood tests or some stool samples done to see what it is… and some allergy tests to see what it is that is actually causing that problem.
There may be issues that you never even knew you had as such as an Autoimmune disease. You might have come into contact with a virus at some point or travelled overseas and picked up a parasitic infection from something that you’ve come in contact with, and have lots of issues with bowel and not actually know what it is that’s causing it. It’s not until you get professionally tested that that might come out. There’s plenty of help out there once we kind of know. We then know what are the steps to deal with it? Is it only eliminating something from the diet temporarily? Is it finding out what the triggers are by doing an elimination diet and reintroduction of certain foods? And also, it might mean a certain course of probiotics, or a special type that’s going to eliminate, you know, something like a parasite, something from adhering to the bowel. So there’s all sorts of things and then we want to go in and we want to heal the gut. So healing the gut with foods that are really nurturing for the body and really repopulating the gut with the correct bacteria that it really needs and just getting everything back into the balance so, once again, you can have a really nice, comfortable, healthy life.

Larah: That’s great. That was a fantastic interview, Delina, and we got some great advice and great tips. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. If the listeners would like to get in touch with you, where can they find you?

Delina: Well, first of all, I have my personal website. I’m also on Facebook under Delina Rahmate Bachelor of Health Science Nutritional Medicine.
Larah: And don’t worry if you haven’t got all the details of Delina. I will put those in the show notes. So feel free to go on my website and check for the show notes for this episode.
Well, until next time. It was nice to have you, Delina. Thank you for listening and talk to you soon. Bye.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Delina’s Website
Yoga with Adriene
Links to Delina’s Social Media:
Delina’s Facebook Page

About Larah

I have been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome for many years, but it took a longtime to get a diagnosis, since then I have been following a low FODMAP diet, which has changed my life for the better. This is my story and experience with IBS and the low FODMAP diet.