Anyone who has suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) will know the pain and inconvenience it causes. The digestive system is at the core of your body, so pain from IBS can seem to radiate out, leaving you sore and drained of energy. Thankfully, there are simple ways to manage IBS and improve gut health.
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Keep a Food Diary
Tracking your food intake is a simple way to see if what you eat is causing your IBS flare up, so keeping a diary monitoring everything you eat can be helpful for recognising patterns and triggers. Everyone’s body reacts but there are some food types that are harder to digest and are often linked with IBS. These include popular items such as sweetcorn, cow’s milk, and caffeine, so you may find reducing your intake of these beneficial. Some people find it helps to follow a gluten free diet plan or modifying what they eat by following a diet plan for IBS.
Add Fibre to Your Diet
A sluggish digestive system can be the cause of IBS, particularly if you are suffering with symptoms like bloating or constipation. A straightforward way to stop blockages building up your bowel is to increase the amount of fibre you eat. High fibre foods such as avocado, chia seeds, oats and kidney beans can reduce symptoms.
Drink More Water
Hydration has been high on people’s agenda over recent years with many recognising the negative effects dehydration can have on brain function and energy levels, but water is also crucial for digestion, breaking down food so your body can benefit from the nutrients of what you eat. If you find it hard to drink enough throughout the day you could try a specialist tea for ITS, or particularly if you are busy, a water bottle marked with measurements can be an excellent investment. Try to drink at least two litres of water a day for a healthy mind, body, and gut.
If you find you are having an IBS flare upregularly, it may be impacting your ability to work, socialise and enjoy life. Nutritional therapists are specialists in diet and health and can help you recognise triggers, discuss management techniques, and offer advice around changing your eating habits and lifestyle. Body recomposition – the process of reducing fat and increasing muscle –can help, and a nutritional therapist will be able to advise on this.
Medication and Meditation
Over-the-counter painkillers can help with the discomfort of IBS,but if you find these are unable to control the pain, there are other options. IBS can manifest with constipation or diarrhoea, or sometime alternate between both, so how you deal with it will be personal to you. You might want to speak to a healthcare professional about prescription drugs and alternative options such as meditation. Gentle yoga and stretching can help get your bowels moving and focusing on regulating breathing patterns can be relaxing and reduce discomfort. A hot water bottle or heat pack can also be soothing.
IBS is a common condition but there are other gut issues that have similar symptoms. Inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease and colitis, present with many of the same signs so if you notice blood or mucus in your stools, it is worth making an appointment with a doctor.