If you are struggling with your Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms (IBS), don’t give up just yet instead, Take back control !
IBS is a functional disorder athat affects the colon and causes irritable of the lining of the colon. Symptoms can include; diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas and abdominal cramps. Whilst a small proportion of sufferers need to take medication, most people can control it with dietary changes. Studies have shown that avoiding certain foods can help to reduced severity and fewer symptoms, with much improvement in quality of life.
All IBS Is Not The Same
Understanding your IBS is the best way to manage it. Some general tips are;
- Have regular meal times, chew well and avoid eating in haste to help the process of digestion.
- Drink at least 8 cups of fluids a day. This can include water, soups, herbal or non-caffeinated drinks.
- Regular exercise has shown to help reduce symptoms.
- Reduce stress
- Benefit can be had from gaining advice on nutritional supplements e.g. multivitamins, essential fatty acids and probiotics to remedy any nutritional deficiencies that may have resulted due to prolonged IBS symptoms.
- Complementary therapies like acupuncture can help to reduce symptoms and calm the digestive system. It is particularly effective for functional problems. It can also help to reduce stress caused by a busy and demanding lifestyle.
- Avoid or restrict drinking tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid fatty foods.
- Start to keep a food diary and when symptoms occur. This will help to identify problem foods.
- Avoid or limit foods that may worsen symptoms.
- If you have persistent or frequent bloating, a low FODMAP diet can help. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Essentially these are carbohydrate, but specifically FODMAPS are certain types of carbohydrates that are not easily broken down and so have difficulty being absorbed by the gut. Left undigested in the gut they quickly start to ferment to release gases resulting in bloating. Low FODMAP diet essentially involves restricting your intake of high FODMAP foods e.g. some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans. There is a danger of eliminating too many foods, potentially impacting on general health. Thus seeking guidance from a knowledgeable professional will ensure that you maintain a healthy balanced diet. You can read more about the low FODMAP diet here.
Give Foods Another Chance
When you are actively experiencing IBS symptoms it can seem like you react to almost everything that you eat. Often people may have eliminated food that they are able to eat if their colon is not in a reactive state. Thus, after a minimum of 3-4 weeks of food avoidance or limitation, the colon will have rested and calmed down. At this time you can start to can bring back foods one at a time at a rate of one item per week. You might be pleased to discover that you’re only sensitive to one or two FODMAP carbs, not all of them e.g. wheat is a problem but dairy is OK.
Creating Your Own Personalised Diet
The aim is to find out what foods or other factors (e.g. stress) trigger your IBS symptoms. In this way you can create your own personal diet which gives you all the nutrients you need but only includes the foods that you can handle.