Struggling with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can be draining and affect day to day life. However, there are ways to reduce symptoms and flare ups.
The main ways to treat IBS yourself at home include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Diet changes
- Keeping track of what triggers symptoms
- Being in contact with a health care provider to monitor improvements/ long term issues
Lifestyle and Diet changes
As frustrating as it is, there is still no cure for IBS, but there are small changes you can make to alleviate discomfort and symptoms. Certain diets and lifestyle choices can affect the gastrointestinal function and how the body reacts.
IBS symptoms can appear for numerous reasons. Diets which include caffeine, dairy, alcohol, foods high in fat and spicy foods are often triggers for an upset stomach and IBS symptoms. Health professionals often advise people to stay away from these dietary groups. That being said, each individual is different and will have different triggers. There are general recommendations which include:
- Eating regular meals
- Eating slower
- Getting enough sleep
- Drinking at least 8 cups of water a day
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Avoiding carbonated drinks
- Avoiding certain vegetables that are hard to digest such as onions, cauliflower, broccoli and beans
Often a low FODMAP diet is highly recommended for sufferers of IBS. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Following a low FODMAP diet reduces carbohydrate intake, which can often trigger IBS. Foods recommended on a low FODMAP diet include:
- Protein – beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, pork etc
- Whole Grain foods- white and brown rice, lentils, oats, quinoa and potatoes
- Fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, guava and grapes
- Vegetables- Carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, spinach, lettuce etc
- Nuts – almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts etc
- Oils – olive oil and coconut oil
It is important to note that a low FODMAP diet is intended for a short term diagnostic diet which can help identify triggers. Contact your doctor before starting any diet as you could cause more harm than good going on a restrictive diet.
Communicating with your healthcare provider
If you are suffering with IBS symptoms and you are concerned that your symptoms are worsening or not improving, it is important to stay in touch with your doctor or get in touch with a specialist. Specialists such as Mr Andrew Clarke can help guide you through symptoms and carry out Laparoscopy treatments to inspect and find if anything is wrong.