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I’m a gut microbiologist – here are 10 easy ways to get quick relief from IBS symptoms

ALTHOUGH it affects millions of us, the exact cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is still unknown.

And there is still no cure, meaning sufferers must control and manage their symptoms.

IBS can cause all sorts of symptoms, from pain and bloating to mood swings and constipation

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IBS can cause all sorts of symptoms, from pain and bloating to mood swings and constipationPhoto credit: Getty

dr Kate Stephens is Gut Microbiologist at Optibac Probiotics.

She explains that IBS is a common condition that affects the digestive system with symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, gas, diarrhea, constipation, mood swings, nausea, physical aches and pains, and incontinence.

IBS symptoms can flare up due to certain dietary, lifestyle, and environmental triggers.

dr However, Stephens adds that studies have shown that IBS can be passed genetically, meaning you’re more likely to develop IBS when you’re younger.

“Additionally, research shows that sex hormones may play a role, which explains why IBS is more common in women than men.

“The diagnosis of IBS is made by a doctor once all other causes are present symptoms are excluded.”

The symptoms of IBS can be debilitating and, for many, have a devastating impact on their daily lives.

To mark April’s IBS Awareness Month, we asked the experts for some simple ways to prevent or lessen the severity of certain symptoms so you or someone you know who has IBS can live a happier, more comfortable life…

Most Read in Diet & Fitness

1. Focus on HOW you eat to fight bloating

Thorough chewing sounds easy, but many people forget!

“Digestion begins in the mouth,” says Jo Cunningham, Clinical Director at The Colon Health Clinicwho recommends chewing each bite at least 10 times, although closer to 30 is “optimal.”

“Chewing releases digestive enzymes that help your body digest food and send a signal to the stomach that food is on its way.”

She adds that relaxing while eating and breathing deeply allows food to digest properly, which can help prevent bloating.

“It is also said that if you take the time to enjoy your food, you will be happier with it.

“The extra timing allows your brain to register that you’re full and signals to stop eating, helping fight the bloat associated with overeating.

“Posture is also important; Bending over food and watching TV can put your body in an awkward position that doesn’t promote proper digestive processes.”

2. Limit fruit to avoid diarrhea

This might go against every 5 a day message drilled into our brains, but eating fruit with meals could make IBS symptoms far worse.

“For those with IBS, the recommendation is to eat no more than one piece of fruit per session, with up to three sessions spread throughout the day.

“Many fruits contain a type of sugar that can cause more water to enter the intestines and contribute to symptoms like urinary urgency, gas and diarrhea,” says Jo.

She also recommends limiting juices and smoothies and opting for whole fruits instead to give your gut microbes — the living bacteria in your gut — the maximum benefit from the plant fiber.

3. Harness the power of heat to combat cramps

“If you have IBS-induced abdominal pain, try applying heat as it helps relax muscles and relieve pain quickly,” suggests Dr. Stephens before.

She adds that if IBS pain strikes when you’re out in public, try a more discreet heat pack or adhesive heat patch.

4. Avoid greasy and spicy foods to reduce reflux

“You should avoid or limit meals containing chili, and only occasionally eat fried or high-fat foods,” explains Jo.

“This includes fries, fried fish/meat, fatty meats like sausage, pastries, cream, and large amounts of cheese.”

Instead, opt for healthier foods like oven-baked or steamed oily fish, olive oil instead of butter, and fill up on colorful foods like salads and vegetables.

5. Check your fiber intake for constipation

Most adults miss fiber goals by a whopping 40% per day.

In the UK it is recommended that adults consume 30g per day, however the average intake is only 18g.

Fiber doesn’t just come from fruits and vegetables, says Jo.

“Think of the “Super Six” categories: Legumes, Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Seeds, and Herbs & Spices.

“Less fiber in our diets means we’re more likely to experience symptoms like bloating, bloating, abdominal discomfort, reflux, and altered bowel movements.”

To increase your fiber, Jo recommends looking at your current eating pattern and thinking about what high-fiber foods you can add.

Be sure to increase your fluid intake as your fiber intake increases to allow fiber to pass through your digestive tract comfortably.

Regarding laxatives, Dr. Stephens that while they are a common “quick fix” for constipation, they have several side effects.

“Not only do they affect your gut microbiome and lower the levels of friendly bacteria in the gut, but they could also create a ‘wack-a-mole situation’ where, while your constipation may be relieved, other side effects will occur.”

6. Drink mint tea for trapped wind

“In addition to being calming and soothing, peppermint is known for its ability to support digestive health.

“If you’re bloating because of your irritable bowel syndrome, I would recommend opting for a mint tea,” says Dr. Stephens.

Peppermint oil has also been shown to help with IBS symptoms.

7. Eat high-energy foods to combat fatigue

“Studies have shown that up to 60% of IBS sufferers experience fatigue, possibly due to food avoidance, worrying about symptoms, and night flares that interfere with sleep,” says Dr. Stephens.

This, in turn, can affect working life, as IBS sufferers may need to take more time off work and may experience reduced productivity while at work.

“Consider consuming high-energy foods that work for you, like peanut butter, to boost energy levels.”

8. Practice mindfulness for fear

dr Stephens explains that research suggests that up to 94% of people with IBS suffer from mental disorders, including anxiety and depression.

She adds that this is likely due to the powerful impact that IBS symptoms have on a person’s quality of life, affecting relationships, social activities, work life, body image and food choices.

“It could also be due to the gut-brain axis. This is a complex pathway in which our gut health can affect our mood and vice versa.

“In IBS, the gut-brain axis can become imbalanced due to inflammation and higher levels of harmful bacteria.”

Meditation and breathing exercises can complement your everyday life in a meaningful way.

Try box breathing, where you breathe in to four, count the breath for another count of four, and then breathe out for another count of four. Repeat this for two to three minutes.

9. Choose yoga for trapped wind

Yoga has been shown to help with IBS symptoms (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438173/) – not only primary symptoms such as B. trapped wind, but also secondary symptoms such as anxiety and stress.

“I would recommend the cat and cow poses for IBS patients because the movements, when alternated, can massage and support the entire digestive tract,” says Dr. Stephens.

To practice the cat and cow poses, start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

To get into cow pose, inhale, then push your stomach down while lifting your chest and chin and looking up.

Slowly move into Cat Pose by exhaling and arching your back so your belly is now pulling into your spine and your head moves to look down.

The goal is to repeat this movement about ten times.

10. Eat low-FODMAP foods to reduce bloating and cramping

It’s a bite, but FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polysaccharides.

“These foods are certain types of carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest.

“How well your gut can digest these foods depends on digestive enzymes, transit times, gut health, and how much of the food was consumed,” explains Dr. Stephens.

When FODMAP foods are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, they travel to the large intestine and are broken down by bacteria, creating gases that contribute to bloating and pain.

High FODMAP foods include sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol), cow’s milk, yogurt, apples, broccoli, garlic, wheat and rye, while low FODMAP foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, blueberries, kiwis, passion fruit and contain oats and rice.

It is recommended that you seek the help of a dietician before beginning a FODMAP diet.

Help overcome IBS cramps by choosing low-FODMAP foods

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Help overcome IBS cramps by choosing low-FODMAP foodsPhoto credit: Getty

https://www.thesun.ie/health/8697487/easy-ways-to-help-ease-ibs-symptoms/ I’m a gut microbiologist – here are 10 easy ways to get quick relief from IBS symptoms

Fry Electronics Team

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