Some of us may be more familiar with the symptoms that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) present than others. The common problems are bloating, abdominal pain and being gassy. Much research and many studies have been conducted with the aim of finding cures and methods of managing IBS. The majority are recommending similar methods of management and since they tend to be quite lengthy, I shall help summarise them. Curious? Then read on for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): 3 Ways to Better Manage Symptoms.
This advice isn’t ranked from strongest to weakest, however, that doesn’t mean that the latter aren’t unproven, they’re all still suggested.
1. Soluble Fibre-Rich Diet
Dietary fibre is found to bring about therapeutic benefits, especially for those who have IBS-C (IBS with constipation), as it helps with regulation of stools and thus, reduces abdominal pain and meteorism. However, not all types of fibre are beneficial for IBS patients because insoluble fibre has been found to potentially lead to increased severity of symptoms. Instead, it is recommended that soluble fibre is introduced into a patient’s diet in a gradual manner; daily increments until an intake of 20-35g per day (25g being optimal) is achieved.
Simply put, the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre is that one dissolves in water whilst the other doesn’t (respectively). Generally, fibre-rich foods contain both types of fibre, but typical sources of soluble fibre are fruits and vegetables. Sources of insoluble fibre are grains, nuts, beans and wheat bran. Nevertheless, the effects experienced varied among individuals, so it can be beneficial to keep a food and symptom diary to monitor the effects felt or to go for a personalised nutrition plan if that’s possible.
2. Low FODMAP Diet
This is a diet that is low in fermentable oligo-, di- and monosaccharides, and polyol. They are non-absorbed short chain carbohydrates which have been shown to significantly impact the gut
Foods high in FODMAP tend to have excess fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and polyols (sugar alcohols). IBS sufferers have compromised digestive abilities and FODMAP foods are harder to break down. These are then fermented by gut microbes which causes the production of gases and even inflammation.
There is an extensive list of food items you can reduce/exclude from your diet completely along with food items that are suitable. However, again, like the fibre diet, it’s a varied experience for everyone as each body reacts differently.
There is a strong link between the gut and the brain where the symptoms could be the cause and/or consequence of psychological stress. Physical activity can really help build fitness and the ability to cope with stress by maintaining physical and mental health.
Moderate exercise is beneficial, and it can be practically any form of activity such as yoga or Pilates. Not only can it increase your quality of life (QOL) but also reduce the severity of the symptoms too as it can help you relax.