Are you suffering from IBS? Here are tips and tricks on how you can reduce its symptoms and make living with IBS easier.
By Kevin RR Williams
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Effects
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an unpredictable, chronic condition characterized by abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. With 5–10% of the world population affected by this syndrome, it is the most commonly diagnosed digestive system disease. In the United States only, IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people.
The first symptoms appear relatively early, usually before the age of 40. Sometimes they appear in early childhood. It affects women twice as often as men. All sufferers know that irritable bowel syndrome is not easy to live with. It significantly impacts their social and professional life but also their general well-being and health. But there are ways to make living with IBS easier and better for all affected. In the following text, we talk about them.
Living with IBS
Managing irritable bowel syndrome involves many challenges that you will face every day. It is possible to lead a quality life in which you will not have to make too many compromises at the expense of social activities or professional life. But before that, you must arm yourself with patience, perseverance, and, most importantly, knowledge about your condition.
Collect as much information as possible from relevant literature or your physician. The more you know about your illness, the better you will be able to cope with it.
Determine Your IBS Triggers and Symptoms
Symptoms, their severity, and the circumstances in which they occur vary from patient to patient. That is why you have to carefully listen to your body and familiarize yourself with the specifics of this syndrome related to you.
Keep a symptom diary and record all observations related to your illness. Enter any symptom you notice, such as diarrhea, constipation, cramping, abdominal pain, discomfort, flatulence bloating.
Also, enter all possible stressful situations, the food you ate that day, or medications you took, since these are the most common IBS triggers. Potential triggers that you must also pay attention to are your menstrual cycle, chewing gun use, physical inactivity, or alcohol consumption.
Get Ready to Workout
Numerous scientific studies conducted have clearly shown that low or moderate-intensity exercise can significantly alleviate the symptoms of IBS. Mind-body activities, such as yoga or pilates, have given the best results, especially if the reason for them is stress.
Stress, one of the pronounced triggers of IBS, activates the sympathetic nervous system, which slows down the work of the digestive system and leads to unpleasant symptoms related to IBS. Yoga and pilates involve exercises with deep breathing and relaxation and help to relieve stress and consequently promote the activity of the digestive system.
For anyone with constipation as a symptom, exercise will stimulate bowel movement and reduce bloating. On the other hand, intense training can be a trigger for IBS. All types of training that involve intense jumping and running can cause problems for people with IBS, so it is best to avoid Crossfit, competitive swimming, martial arts, or any ball sport.
Be Careful with Alcohol
One of the frequently mentioned triggers for IBS symptoms is alcohol. For some people, the smallest amount of consumed alcohol causes a violent reaction in the digestive system, while others can occasionally enjoy their favorite drink. Furthermore, some people report that they experience discomfort only after consuming certain types of alcoholic beverages, like beer, for instance.
That is why it is essential to understand how your body reacts to alcohol. Stop taking alcohol and observe whether the symptoms subside. If they disappear, introduce a small amount of alcohol and check if the symptoms reappear. This way, you can check the amount and type of alcohol that upsets you. But avoiding drinking altogether or keeping it to a minimum may be the best solution if you have problems with IBS.
There is a difference between alcoholism and binge drinking. Alcoholics are people suffering from addiction, while binge drinking doesn’t have to include alcohol dependence. Either way, they are both harmful. In fact, binge drinking can impact your health in many ways, so stopping alcohol consumption will improve your overall health.
Avoid Stress as Much as You Can
Your gut and brain have an unbreakable bond. Both of their conditions affect one another. Mental issues such as anxiety, depression, and even unbearable stress, irritate your gut, which makes you feel unwell and causes stress. Then, the cycle repeats over and over again.
There are many nerve endings in your gut that make it sensitive. Constant stress heavily burdens your brain, and nervous system, ultimately damaging the bowels and stomach. Stress and worry release the stress hormone Cortisol, which hurts your health and is significantly linked to IBS.
Stress also causes a unbalance of the necessary bacteria in the gut that can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, and discomfort. According to the research, the majority of IBS patients have depression. Clearly, depression and chronic stress (or any other long-term condition) are dangerous for your gut health since it's constantly under pressure.
We know living with IBS is not easy, so try to lower your stress. Medication is a possibility; you need to consult your doctor for that. Enjoy your hobbies, surround yourself with positive co-workers and friends, and simultaneously heal your stomach.
How Can My Diet Help Treat IBS Symptoms?
Dietary changes can improve IBS symptoms. Devote extra time to select and preparing food that will help reduce symptoms affecting the quality of your life. In such circumstances, it is best to prepare food at home, where you have complete control over the ingredients and food preparation.
Again, we emphasize that finding out which foods can trigger your symptoms is vital. However, general guidelines that apply in most cases include:
- Eat more frequent but smaller meals
- Do not overheat
- Chew slowly
- Eat boiled food instead of fried
It is also critical to:
Include more fiber – It is helpful with constipation because it binds water to itself and increases the volume and weight of the stool, making it softer.
Avoid gluten – Many people with IBS report problems with gluten. Foods that contain gluten include grains, pasta, and many processed foods.
Living with IBS is not easy. It can disturb your everyday life and make you feel significant discomfort. However, lowering stress, eating a quality diet, reducing alcohol, and working out should help.
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