Irritable Bowel Syndrome is estimated to affect up to 10% of North American adults and is more like to afflict women under 50.
If you are one of the one in ten people, you know that it can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes a life-changing inconvenience.
IBS causes abdominal discomfort, gas, and changes in the patterns of your bowel movements, as well as diarrhea or constipation. Symptoms can range from slight discomfort to debilitating.
If you’re unsure if what you’re feeling could be IBS, you should ask your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
IBS is a life-long affliction and although there is no ‘cure’ and doctors aren’t sure what causes it, the good news is that people diagnosed with IBS can make lifestyle changes to improve symptoms.
IBS can be triggered by diet, hormones, and stress. So if you’re suffering from any of these symptoms and have seen your health professional, the next thing to do would be to look at ways of reducing your stress levels.
The next thing would be to evaluate your diet, start with a food journal so you can keep a record of what foods seem to make your symptoms worse. Foods that often worsen IBS symptoms include:
You can find a full list of foods you should try avoiding here. You can also try improving your gut health by adding more fiber to your diet and ensuring you’re eating fermented foods that are rich in probiotics. (Another option is to take a probiotics supplement.)
Staying active and getting at least 20 mins of exercise 3-5 times a week has been shown to improve symptoms as well as practicing mindfulness.
For those with more severe symptoms, medication and psychological therapy is another option too.
We believe that it never hurts to look at your diet and mindfulness practices but encourage you to speak to a health professional so that you can keep symptoms under control!
Looking to learn more about gut health? Read our post on symptoms of inflammation here.