Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not an easy task. It’s one of those health problems, for which the cause has yet to be discovered. The sleepless nights and the constant abdominal pain can make your life an absolute living hell. Chances are that you will be living with IBS your entire life. However, there are certain precautions you can take to ease the pain. Before moving on to the tips, let’s have a look at what is IBS and its symptoms:

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder, which affects a person’s large intestine. While the exact cause is known, health experts believe that it has something to do with miscommunication between the intestinal tract and the brain. There might also be a link between food passing through the tract too slowly or quickly, stress or oversensitive nerves.

Symptoms

  • Cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, which is usually, partially relieved by passing stool
  • Farting (flatulence)
  • Excess gas
  • Mucus in stool
  • Backache
  • Lack of energy
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Diet Tips

Meals rich in fiber help aid bowel movement. Eat at least 20g of fiber every day and focus more on vegetables and fruits instead of grains. Fiber can either worsen or improve your diet. The key to finding out how it works for your bowel movement is to start with a combination of grains and soluble fiber. Then, gradually reduce fiber intake and include items such as tomatoes, broccoli, raisins and cabbage in your diet.

If you are gluten-intolerant, then avoid eating pasta, wheat, rye, barley and bread. The protein in these food items can damage your large intestine.

Last but not the least, eliminate these four culprits from your diet: Insoluble fiber, coffee, chocolate and nuts.

Here are some other tips to follow:

  • Divide your 3 meals into 6 meals a day but with smaller portions
  • Don’t rush through the meals
  • Avoid high fat foods
  • Cut down on vegetables such as pulses, onion, beans, peas and lentils
  • Cut down on fruits that have stones
  • Drink lactose free milk
  • Avoid spicy food

Lifestyle Tips

Stress Reduction

Stress can worsen the symptoms of IBS. It’s hard to keep your emotions in check when you are in pain. This is the reason why health experts recommend that people who suffer from IBS should go for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or practice mindfulness. There are many CBT techniques that can be tried with a therapist but to manage the pain while at home, try self-monitoring. This technique involves keeping a diary and noting down your behaviors. These can be related to your diet, your daily routine or your thoughts. At the end of the day, dissect what you have written and you will be able to find out the reason behind your stress.

Maintain a Sleep Schedule

When your circadian rhythm (inner clock) gets disrupted, it becomes difficult to get a good night’s sleep. To get this clock into order, avoid taking naps in the middle of the day, don’t drink caffeine or alcohol at night and refrain from using mobile in bed.

Exercise

Exercise not only helps you lose weight but also improves your bowel movement. It is a great way to relieve stress, which helps you to tune out work and personal problems. If you don’t like exercising, then take up a rigorous activity such as hiking, rock climbing or swimming.

While there are medications out there that can help maintain IBS, it is better to try behavioral techniques and adopt a healthy diet to keep the symptoms in check. Follow these tips and make sure to keep a diary, so that you can spot differences in your health. This will help you in eliminating those habits that are aggravating your IBS further.

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