Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together and affect the large intestine. IBS attacks 10 to 15 percent of adults and affects twice as many women as men. Heredity, lifestyle, allergies, infection or an abnormally large number of bacteria growing in the intestine can cause IBS. Certain foods and stress may trigger symptoms. IBS can usually be controlled with diet changes, stress management and a healthy, active lifestyle.
Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, cramping, constipation or diarrhea, bloating and gassiness. You physician might ask you to undergo medical tests to rule out other causes of these symptoms.
IBS patients have a sensitive intestinal tract which can be triggered by stress and diet.
- Stress: Nerves from colon connect to the brain. Patients with IBS can experience spasms in the colon leading to discomfort and pain.
- Diet: Eating fatty foods or larger meals can aggravate IBS symptoms. If milk or dairy products seem to trigger symptoms, it is better to check for lactose intolerance.
Introduce Diet Modifications
Finding the causes of discomfort and working towards eliminating these causes is the best way to manage IBS. Focus more on diet and eating habits along with medication, stress management and probiotics to control IBS. Simple diet modifications can offer relief and reduce flare-ups.
- Stick to regular meal timings to regulate bowel movements.
- Eat small meals frequently to ease the quantity of food moving through the intestinal tract.
- Include whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains including rolled oats, brown rice and whole-wheat bread. Include fiber gradually as adding too much too quickly can result in gas, bloating and cramping.
- Hydrate properly. Fiber moves food through your intestines with the help of water. If you don’t consume adequate water, it can lead to constipation.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption. These beverages can stimulate the intestines and cause diarrhea. Artificial sweeteners that contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol may cause diarrhea and carbonated drinks can produce gas.
- Maintain a food journal. This helps you understand and avoid foods that cause flare-ups.
Get in Touch with an RDN
A registered dietitian nutritionist is the best person to help you manage IBS by suggesting healthy diet modifications. You can work with your RDN at www.firsteatright.com to identify the foods and habits that might cause trouble and implement healthy eating strategies to combat pain. Nutrition deficiencies are common during a digestive condition. An RDN is the right person to help you with nutrition suggestions for a well-balanced diet and overall health of the body.