People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) often feel frustrated with their symptoms and try countless ways to alleviate them, including cutting out gluten or dairy, following restrictive diets, doing detoxes, taking expensive supplements and medications or making lifestyle changes.
IBS is a chronic digestive disorder that can cause a range of debilitating symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. There is a lot of misinformation available online that claims certain supplements or treatments can cure IBS. If only it were that easy!
Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for IBS, but the right treatment approach can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life so you can lead a completely normal life. Effective IBS management strategies typically involve a combination of lifestyle changes and dietary modifications.
If you are struggling to find relief from your IBS and feel like your life revolves around unpredictable gut symptoms, here are some simple strategies that can help get you started:
1. Keep a food and lifestyle diary.
This will help you to keep track of your symptoms and identify any potential triggers including foods, physical activity, sleep or stress.
2. Create a balanced lifestyle.
Start including joyful movement into your daily routine, implement stress management strategies, develop a bedtime routine and improve your eating habits. These can all help reduce the severity and frequency of your IBS symptoms.
3. Make simple changes to your diet.
Start limiting gut irritants like fatty food, spicy food, caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks. Gradually increasing your intake of plant-based foods can also help to improve symptoms. Up to 80% of people with IBS also find symptom relief from following the FODMAP diet, which has 3 phases (elimination, reintroduction, personalisation).
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Tight clothing can put pressure on the sensitive nerve ending throughout your gut, which can cause bloating and stomach pain, so you want to make sure you are wearing comfy clothes.
5. Try psychological therapy.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), relaxation therapy or gut-directed hypnotherapy may be helpful for those with IBS who also experience anxiety or depression.
It's important to seek medical advice from your doctor and to work closely with an Accredited Practising Dietitian that specialises in IBS to develop a personalised management plan that is tailored to your specific symptoms and individual needs. Self-treating IBS without medical advice can be ineffective and potentially harmful, as it can lead to a delay in diagnosis or the use of unproven or unsafe remedies.