Irritable Bowel Syndrome, more commonly referred to as IBS, is an uncomfortable condition to live with. It’s unpredictable and can kick in at the most inopportune moments causing disruption to your day; making you feel uncomfortable and taking the wind out of your sails. With about 10-15% of the world’s population affected by this condition, you might think that we would have a great understanding of what causes IBS but, unfortunately, this is not the case. Sufferers can experience different symptoms, which result from various triggers making it a frustrating condition to live with day-to-day.
People dealing with irritable bowel syndrome experience a range of symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, constipation, abdominal cramps, gas and even mood swings. Most people are uncomfortable talking about their situation as it can be embarrassing, but with the help of dietitian services and physicians, treatments can be suggested and administered. Lifestyle changes can also help bring about relief and can help to manage symptoms when they do occur.
Keep reading for some simple steps you can take to manage the symptoms of IBS and be more comfortable in your day-to-day life.
Stress can play a huge part in IBS symptoms flaring up, so it’s important to do what you can to manage stressful situations in your life. We all live busy lives and family and work commitments can make even the most relaxed person stress out from time-to-time, so it’s important to find these triggers, manage them and eliminate them where possible.
Try taking a meditation class, doing yoga or just sitting down and listening to some calming music for a little while. Breathing exercise can be particularly helpful and allow you to relax your mind and your body so you can get over your symptoms quickly.
Changes to your diet are very important in managing IBS. However, since different foods affect people in different ways, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to eliminating foods from your diet. It might be gluten, lactose, citric fruits, onions, garlic, alcohol, nuts, soy or any other number of things that trigger your IBS.
One thing you do have control of, however, is your fibre intake. Assess your diet and see if you are getting enough or maybe even too much fibre. If you’re suffering from constipation, you will need to add more fibre. Should diarrhoea be the issue then maybe you have too much fibre in your diet. Make changes to your fibre intake slowly over time and be sure to track your changes to see if there are any improvements.
Drink the Right Fluids
Staying hydrated and drinking enough fluids can really help with IBS symptoms. Be sure that you are consuming enough water, as it will help to soothe your stomach and alleviate any distress you might be experiencing. As a rule of thumb, men should aim to drink about 2.3 litres of water per day and 3.7 litres for women.
Certain fluids can be harsh on your stomach and can exacerbate symptoms. Although it’s not always possible, you should try to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks. Carbonated drinks should also be avoided when possible. Remember ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the first piece of advice you’ll get from a doctor when you are diagnosed with any condition or disease. Being generally healthy will keep your body energise and able to battle against whatever it is that’s going on. IBS is no different.
Try going for a run, doing yoga, swimming, cycling or taking a gym class to get relief from your symptoms. Choose an exercise you enjoy and try to avoid exercising an hour before or after eating for best results. Regular exercise will reduce stress, helps to keep your digestive system in tip-top condition and can offer relief from constipation. It’s a great way to release tension and improve the impact IBS can have.
Manage IBS Symptoms and Feel Great
IBS can have a big impact on your day-to-day life, however, it doesn’t have to take over completely. Learn to manage your stress, adopt a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly and drink enough of the right fluids to help manage your condition.
By taking the right steps, you can lead a very normal life and enjoy the same things as everybody else. Don’t let IBS slow you down. Take control of your symptoms with some simple lifestyle changes and don’t allow IBS to get the better of you. You’ll be more comfortable, more relaxed and happier than ever before.