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Coping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Yes’s and No’s of Gut Healthy Living

Posted by Dee Volek

What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not a disease though many presume it is. IBS is a group of symptoms that occur together and affect the large intestine. IBS affects as many as one in five Americans, and women are twice as likely to be affected as men are. The most common symptom is pain or discomfort in your abdomen and a change in bowel habits.

What is causing my irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS is not caused by one specific thing. It may be a combination of factors such as lifestyle, stress, or diet. We recommend that you keep a journal and record the foods that you eat and how they make you feel to better determine what is causing your pain.

Treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome
There is no specific treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, but there are things you can do to keep it under control. It often requires changing your lifestyle, which may take some getting used to, but is well worth it in the end.

How to control symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Various medications and stress management can help with the symptoms of IBS, but your main focus should be on changing your diet.

Start by establishing regular eating habits. Eating at the same time every day will train and help regulate your bowel movements.

When you do eat, it is better to eat frequent, small meals rather than three large ones. Gradually introduce more fiber into your diet, such as vegetables and whole grains. The fiber will help move the food through your intestine. If your body is not accustomed to eating a lot of fiber, it may result in gas, cramping and bloating, which is why we suggest you add a little at a time.

As you add more fiber to your diet, you will find yourself becoming more regular. Though a good practice, you must also be sure to drink plenty of fluids – at least 6 to 8 eight ounce glasses of water daily. Fiber tends to draw water from the body. With insufficient hydration, you may become constipated.

When you are drinking fluids, make sure you drink something that isn’t going to leave you thirstier, like caffeine or alcohol. These fluids can over stimulate your intestines and cause diarrhea. The best form of hydration is water as it effectively flushes out your system. If you are someone who prefers a little flavor in your water, try adding fresh peppermint leaves!

Food is not the only cause of IBS. Your mind has a powerful effect on the rest of your body, and there is no way to shut it off. Being overworked, stressed or anxious can cause spasms in your colon. Being healthy is not just about what foods you eat, but also ensuring you exercise and get a good night’s sleep.

What to avoid!
Each person and their body works differently, so there is no concrete list of foods to avoid if you suffer from IBS. If you’ve recently been diagnosed and are not sure where to start, try to follow these guidelines:

  1. Milk – the fat in milk can increase your chances of diarrhea. A lot of IBS patients are also lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t digest the lactose found in milk products.
  2. Fried Foods – while they are tasty, the high fat content in fried foods can be hard on your stomach.
  3. Beans – you know how it goes – beans, beans, they are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you… Beans are a good source of protein and fiber, but are known to increase bloating and gas. There are many other protein and fiber containing food options to choose from!
  4. Carbonated, Caffeinated, and Alcoholic Beverages – these drinks are likely to leave you feeling overly gassy.
  5. Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts have been known to cause upset stomachs for patients with IBS.

What to enjoy!
Being diagnosed with IBS does not mean you are going to be stuck eating a bland diet for the rest of your life. With a few changes, you’ll enjoy great tasting meals and feel satisfied after eating.

  1. Flaxseeds – Sprinkle these on casseroles, yogurt or cereal to help with constipation.
  2. Soluble Fiber – Foods like oat bran, barley, peas and nuts will help fill you up without adding discomfort.
  3. Water – It is important for everyone to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. It will help keep you hydrated, as well as flush out your system. Add peppermint leaves or lemons to enhance the flavor.
  4. There is not a one-size-fits-all diet for those with IBS. The best way to know what works for you is to keep a food journal and record what causes you to feel discomfort.

If you or a loved one is having trouble dealing with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, call Premier Medical Group today at 845-471-9410.

 

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