Even if millions of people suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it is one of the least talked about medical issues. The symptoms are uncomfortable, upsetting and embarrassing, including bloating, cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and pain.
If you’re dealing with something like arthritis or back pain, you may want to compare notes, but when it’s something like IBS that is rarely talked about you don’t want to be the one to bring it up. Of course, even the most embarrassing health topics are still important to discuss, and Starts at 60 is here to do just that!
Here are some ways to manage your symptoms that you may not have tried.
1. Keep a tab on what you put in your body: Ask your doctor or homeopath for a food allergy test and eliminate the foods that test positive for three months. You may find that there are some foods that irritate your stomach or bowel more than others. Common triggers include veggies like broccoli with a lot of insoluble fibre, dairy and gluten products, eggs and carbonated drinks like seltzer and soda.
2. Eat to ease symptoms: Change your eating habits by:
- eating a little, and slowly
- drinking plenty of fluids to combine with good fibre
- eliminating fatty foods.
3. Don’t skip breakfast: The age-old saying is repeated for a reason – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping meals throws your off metabolism. Therefore, starting your day off with a healthy breakfast, like yogurt or oatmeal with berries, is important for establishing a good eating schedule.
Eating meals at roughly the same time every day keeps your metabolism humming along, and keeps digestive processes from stalling or slowing down.
4. Get into your herb garden: There are a number of different herbs and supplements that relieve symptoms of IBS, including:
- Mint – Peppermint is known to cause relief from IBS symptoms. You can take peppermint in tea, oil, herb or capsule form.
- Turmeric – This multi-use herb can also help to ease digestive problems as it has anti-inflammatory properties and blocks abnormal muscle contractions in the stomach. The recommended dosage is 500mg per day.
5. Make decaf your friend: The caffeine in the average cup of coffee is a strong stimulant and it causes the muscles in and around your digestive system to contract. You may want to consider switching to decaf because all that caffeine stimulation can move things along too quickly and may hamper your digestive abilities.
6. Meditate: Stress and anxiety can be major triggers for IBS. That’s because, like caffeine, stress triggers the central nervous system and muscle contractions brought on by stress can mess with the speed and efficiency of the digestive system. Take 15 minutes every day to alleviate stress through meditation.
7. Don’t strain: On the toilet, IBS sufferers tend to have ‘phantom urges’ and might want to have a poo when the body isn’t ready. Help alleviate the symptoms — and prevent new ones, like haemorrhoids, from emerging — by relaxing on the toilet and not pushing your body to produce anything before it’s ready.
Have you suffered IBS? Do you have any other tips for relieving symptoms of IBS?