Living with IBS: 5 Helpful Tips
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder involving the small intestines and colon. Symptoms of IBS include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, and constipation. According to WebMD, IBS affects up to 55 million Americans, mainly women. While its causes are unknown, IBS is generally not a debilitating condition. In most cases, IBS can be controlled by managing diet, stress, and lifestyle (Source: Mayo Clinic).
If you suffer from IBS, here are five helpful tips to minimize your symptoms and live a fuller life.
(1) Keep a Food Diary. While food itself does not cause IBS, certain foods may trigger its symptoms. If you know which foods set off IBS symptoms, then you can avoid them. However, if you aren’t sure which foods are aggravating your condition, a food diary can help you identify the trouble foods. Be sure to record all the foods you eat in a day including individual ingredients that make up a meal, snacks, and drinks you consume. Also, record any IBS symptoms you experience each day. Within a few weeks, you should be able to see any patterns in the foods consumed and symptoms experienced.
(2) Avoid Potential Trigger Foods. While the effects of consuming certain foods may differ from person to person, some foods have been identified across the board as potential triggers of IBS symptoms. (Source: HealthGuidance.org) These foods include the following:
- Simple carbs that raise glucose levels rapidly, especially those found in sugary foods like juice, cakes, cookies, white bread, and pasta
- Raw vegetables, salads, and raw fruit
- Spicy foods like curry
- Foods high in saturated fat like processed meats (hot dogs, deli meats), red meat, whole fat dairy products (milk, ice cream, cheese), and other processed foods
- Wheat products (bread, cereal, crackers, etc.)
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit
- Alcoholic beverages
(3) Increase Intake of Fiber-Rich Foods. To maintain regularity, especially if constipation is a problem, slowly introduce more foods high in soluble fiber into your diet (i.e., ground flax meal, sprouted nuts and seeds, avocadoes, beans, brown rice, prune juice, and oats). Increased dietary fiber encourages gut motility and keeps the muscles of the colon in working order. (Note: For some people adding more fiber to the diet may actually worsen IBS symptoms. You will know if you are one of them if you keep a food diary.)
(4) Make Time for Relaxation. Like food, stress does not cause IBS, but does appear to exacerbate the symptoms of IBS. Stress causes inflammation and may affect the movements of the intestines. While stress is a normal part of life, for sufferers of IBS, it is especially important to find healthy ways to relax. Enroll in a yoga or relaxation class, take up a hobby like gardening or sewing, or learn new time management skills. Find ways to unwind after a stressful day to optimize your health and minimize IBS symptoms.
(5) Get active! Another recommendation for those living with IBS is regular exercise. Exercise not only strengthens muscles and helps maintain a healthy body weight, it also aids in the motility of the GI tract, which is very important for IBS sufferers. Regular physical activity relaxes the bowel and may encourage it to stay relaxed and work more efficiently. Exercise also relieves stress and prevents depression, which helps minimize IBS symptoms.
Whether you suffer from IBS or know someone who does, making a few changes to your diet and finding ways to manage stress through relaxation and exercise are integral to keeping your symptoms under control and even preventing them from coming back.digestive disorders, foods that irritate IBS, foods to avoid with digestive issues foods, Healthy Living Tips, how to treat IBS, IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, symptoms of IBS, that aggravate the intestinal tract