Say goodbye to tummy troubles (mostly)
Research suggests that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is on the rise, especially among women, and as many as 75 percent of cases may go undiagnosed. IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that can cause cramping, constipation, bloating, gas, and diarrhea—so it’s no surprise it can be a debilitating condition. While there’s no cure for IBS, these natural remedies might just help tame your tummy troubles.
Say hello to low-FODMAP foods. FODMAPs—that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—are certain types of carbohydrates found in foods, including sugars, starches, and fiber. These can exacerbate symptoms associated with IBS by fueling gas-producing bacteria in the gut and increasing the amount of fluid in the bowel.
If you constantly feel windy, it may be time to part ways with that delicious bean dip and familiarize yourself with the low-FODMAP diet. For those who struggle with digestive issues, the low-FODMAP diet can provide significant benefits. In one study, as many as 76 percent of adopters reported fewer IBS symptoms, and it’s been associated with improved quality of life.
Do you usually inhale your lunch while staring at a screen, barely pausing between each bite? Eating in a rush is tempting, but doing so can trigger IBS symptoms. Follow these tips to relax and enjoy your chicken rice bowl without a side of gas and bloating:
• Eat distraction free (yes, that means not in the car or in front of a screen). • Pause for a minute or two between bites. • Take smaller bites. • Chew thoroughly.
Deep breath in, deep breath out … Prioritize mindful breathing throughout the day, and your IBS will thank you. The brain and gut are closely connected—so when you’re freaking out because you ran out of toilet paper, remember that your thoughts and emotions can trigger or even worsen IBS symptoms. No one can avoid stress entirely, but adopting activities that encourage mindfulness such as meditation can decrease stress-related flare-ups. The best part is that you can practice mindfulness anywhere—in the car, the park, the kitchen … and, of course, the bathroom.
Do you ever feel unsatisfied after leaving the bathroom? You may want to try psyllium powder, a type of soluble fiber that can provide significant benefits to IBS patients dealing with constipation or diarrhea. Before you hop off the toilet and run to your local health food store, note that not just any added fiber can offer symptom relief. In fact, increased insoluble fiber can sometimes cause bloating and gas for those with IBS, so be sure to look for the word “soluble” when choosing a fiber supplement.
• Fruits like berries and oranges • Peas • Carrots • Walnuts • Oats
Missing some regularity in your life? Exercise may not be your top priority when you’re dealing with IBS, but regular movement can help provide the relief you need. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day has been found to alleviate constipation and reduce stress, which can lower the chances of IBS ruining your day. Plus, regular exercise not only helps diminish IBS symptoms, but also helps boost your mood.
So, grab your runners, fill up your water bottle, and don’t forget to use the bathroom before you head out the door. You’ll likely be blown away—not by gas, but by how amazing you feel.
Remember how the brain and gut are connected? Managing stress isn’t always enough to keep IBS symptoms at bay (and gas away), so you may want to take a probiotic for extra gut support. Probiotics not only help maintain digestive health, but also reduce pain and symptom severity in IBS. Connect with a health care practitioner to confirm which probiotic strains will be most helpful for your specific symptoms. You may also benefit from consuming probiotics in the form of fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
If you’ve tried everything and feel like nothing has worked, you may want to pick up some peppermint oil. Peppermint oil has been found to relax and soothe muscles within the gastrointestinal system, which can help reduce the discomfort often associated with IBS. If you want to try peppermint oil, opt for enteric-coated capsules to avoid heartburn.
Please be sure to check with your health practitioner to determine whether a treatment is right for you.