“Healthy Monday is our way of kicking off the week with useful health tips, information or news put together by our team of Health Consultants.”
April is the awareness month for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)! IBS affects as many as 9% to 23% of people, but very few are properly diagnosed while some are unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically recognized disorder.
IBS Symptoms are similar to those that normally affect the digestive system such as bloating, gas, constipation, burping, and diarrhea; but the unique differentiator is that the latter usually go away after a day or a few days in most people; however, for those with IBS, these symptoms do not go away. Those with IBS also experience significant abdominal discomfort, disrupted overall bowel functions and frequent trips to the restroom.
We are therefore using this medium to provide tips that may help anyone suffering from this ailment in order to find ways to better control the symptoms!
- Keep a Food Symptom Diary: Keeping a diary for about one to two weeks may help in identifying factors or conditions that worsens your IBS symptoms. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD) has a free personal daily diary get you started using a 4-12 Elimination Diet that helps to identify problematic foods. Click HERE to use the guide. You need to remember that each person responds to food differently, and something that intensifies your IBS symptoms may not affect someone else. Four common food offenders for IBS have however being identified, which includes caffeine, chocolate, fiber, and nuts. By taking a systematic approach to monitoring your diet, you may be able to sort out which, if any, has an impact on your IBS symptoms.
- Probiotics: It is widely known that those with IBS have a different combination of microorganisms living in the intestinal tract than those without IBS. Many studies have consequently found that individuals with IBS symptoms showed reasonable improvements when probiotic supplements and yogurts were taken.
- Fiber Supplements: Fiber has been noted to help with relieving IBS symptoms in most people, while a few people have also complained that it can aggravate the situation. As such, this has to be taken based on your understanding of how your body responds to its intake. Common fiber supplements that may however provide relief include ground flaxseed and psyllium husks. Also, always make sure you drink enough water with the fiber to promote efficient bowel function.
- Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil, when taken before meals and advisably in capsule form, has also been shown to relieve symptoms in the short term better than placebo in IBS patients experiencing abdominal discomfort. It is believed to work by decreasing muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Adequate Sleep and Regular Relaxation: Improving your sleep and enjoying a periodic relaxation can help you to cope with the resultant abdominal pain that comes with IBS. If the IBS discomfort is affecting your sleep you may want to ensure you maintain a regular relaxation period before getting into bed, keep a consistent wake up time, use the bed only for sleep, and avoid caffeine for at least 4 hours before bed.
- Breakfast is Key: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for several reasons, with one of it being that it helps with bowel movements. If you suffer from constipation, be sure to have breakfast as this is the meal that will most likely help you to stimulate the colon and give you the needed bowel movement.
- Regular exercise: Daily movement is important to keep the IBS bloating symptom from getting worse and also improves bowel functions.
Although there is currently no known cure for IBS, the symptoms are treated through dietary adjustments, medication, and psychological interventions. Patient education and good doctor–patient relationships are also important, and we hope some of the tips provided here will help to better manage the symptoms for those affected.
Have a healthy week!
Please, note that this information is in not intended to replace the guidance of your doctor. We always advise you see a physician whenever a health problem arises requiring an expert’s care.