If you’re one of the 11% of people worldwide who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’re not alone. IBS can be a real pain, but the good news is that as research continues to explore the connection between nutrition and health, we’re learning more and more about how to manage it.
In this article, we’ll give you the scoop on the most common IBS symptoms, the things that might trigger them, and some tasty diet tips to help you feel better.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder with many symptoms. Here’s an overview of what IBS is all about:
- IBS affects the gastrointestinal tract: the stomach, and the intestines.
- The main cause of IBS is unclear but chronic stress, a poor diet, and a family history of IBS are known to be powerful triggers.
- Although IBS is mostly a lifelong chronic condition, proper nutrition along with relaxation techniques can help control the symptoms.
Symptoms of IBS
The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Abdominal pain
- Increased gas
- Mucus in the stool
- Feelings of not emptying your bowels completely
Some people with IBS may have these symptoms too:
- Feeling nauseated
- Bowel incontinence (not being able to control when you poo)
- Problems with peeing (feelings of not emptying your bladder or sudden need to pee)
Triggers of IBS
What you eat and drink can make a big impact on IBS symptoms, and it’s different for everyone – but some foods are pretty much guaranteed to make it worse.
Don’t forget about stress and anxiety! They’re sneaky triggers that can make IBS symptoms even more intense.
The takeaway? Your diet and stress levels can have a huge impact on IBS, so it’s worth being mindful of both.
The IBS Diet
Dealing with IBS can feel overwhelming, but the good news is that you have the power to take control! By following a smart diet and steering clear of foods that trigger your symptoms, you can help keep IBS in check.
Foods to Avoid
- Wheat products (or in other terms, gluten)
- Dairy products
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy and fatty foods
- Foods containing sorbitol, xylitol, or high fructose corn syrup
Drinks to Avoid
- Carbonated drinks
- Try to cook your own meals with fresh ingredients.
- Keep a food and symptom journal. Try to avoid foods that make your IBS worse.
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness, or yoga.
- Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors.
- Try using probiotics that are suitable for your condition (consult a pharmacist for advice).
- Don’t skip meals.
- Don’t eat too quickly.
- Avoid eating foods that are too fatty, spicy, or processed.
- Eat no more than three portions of fresh fruit every day (one portion is 80 g).
- Drink no more than three cups of tea or coffee every day.
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol or carbonated drinks.
To sum up
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for IBS, but don’t worry – the good news is that many people with IBS are able to find relief through simple changes to their diet and incorporating stress-management techniques into their daily routines. And for those with more severe symptoms, prescription medications are available that can help control the condition.
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