Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common than you may think. Anywhere from 25 million to 45 million people in the U.S. have it. That means around 1 in 10 Americans may have IBS symptoms! What can you do about it?
Tip 1: Stop Listening to Family Members
One of the most important ways to deal with the symptoms of IBS is to ignore what other people tell you. There will always be a well-meaning family member offering to share the "secret" to curing bowel problems. The thing is, IBS is very different from other digestive problems, and some “common-sense” diet tips can make things worse.Let me give you an example: fiber. Everyone knows that you need more fiber to help ease digestive discomfort, right? Well, with IBS, that’s not always the case. Yes, you need dietary fiber, but too much can actually trigger bloating, gas or constipation issues.
Tip 2: Go for a Walk
One of the worst triggers for IBS isn’t a food at all. It’s stress. There’s a direct connection between how you feel emotionally and how your colon works. Depression, anxiety or stressful events can trigger bowel problems.
Want a great solution for stress and IBS at the same time? Exercise! Working out is good for your body both physically and emotionally. It relieves stress, encourages healthy bowel movements, improves your self-esteem and even benefits your sleep quality — all of which are great for IBS symptoms.
Choose moderate-intensity exercises that get your heart rate up but feel relaxing:
Going for a calm bike ride
Doing low-impact aerobics
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Tip 3: Be Balanced
If you have IBS, try to take things slow and steady when it comes to diet changes. Let’s say you read an article on the health benefits of Greek yogurt. Normally, if you’re like me, you’d rush to the store to buy a couple of gallons right away! To avoid IBS symptoms, however, it’s better to avoid extremes. Start slow and work your way up.
Tip 4: Skip FODMAPs for a While
FODMAPs are carbohydrates that many people with IBS have trouble digesting. Unfortunately, FODMAPs appear in a surprising number of otherwise awesome foods:
Some fruit (mainly watermelon, apples, mangoes, peaches, pears and cherries)
Some vegetables (such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms and snow peas)
Beans and lentils
Dairy foods with lactose (cow’s milk, soft cheeses and yogurt)
Tip 5: Try Peppermit Oil (in Capsules)
There's some evidence that taking peppermint oil can help with IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating. This plant oil appears to help the muscles of your intestines relax while soothing irritated or painful spots from the inside. Go with capsules to avoid problems with heartburn.
Tip 6: Take Care of Your Gut With Probiotics
A healthy gut has a blend of over 300 different types of microorganisms that work together to protect your digestive lining, break down foods, make vitamins for your body, absorb nutrients and even improve your emotions! Getting plenty of probiotics can help with pain, boating, bowel movements and overall intestinal comfort.
You can find probiotics in several foods:
But wait — didn’t I just say that lactose in dairy can make IBS symptoms worse? If you notice that yogurt bothers you, there are several options. You could choose a lactose-free Greek yogurt. Or you can simply take a probiotic supplement and avoid the fuss!