• 5 Lifestyle Changes that Help with Your IBS

    on Aug 8th, 2018

Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common digestive disorder, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing. Roughly 10-15% of Americans are living with uncomfortable, recurrent symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramping, constipation, gas, bloating, fatigue and problems sleeping. These symptoms range in severity from mild to severe and can significantly impact your daily life. Find out how making some changes in your daily life can bring much-needed relief.

Follow a low-FODMAP diet

Though you may not have heard of fermentable oligo-di, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPS), you’re likely eating them. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that ferment in your large intestine when they aren’t properly digested. Beans, artichokes, and cauliflower are just a few foods rich in FODMAPs.

When bacteria in the large intestine break down and ferment FODMAPs, the process can cause abdominal pain, bloating, gas and stomach distention. People with IBS tend to be highly sensitive to FODMAPs.

Following a diet low in FODMAPs significantly reduces symptoms in people with IBS. Many patients find that symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating are much more manageable on a low-FODMAP diet. The diet is typically implemented in two phases. The first phase involves strict adherence to avoiding foods high in FODMAPs. During the second phase, foods are slowly added back in to assess tolerance.

Join a yoga class

Whether you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, shuffling the kids to school, or crunching to meet a tight deadline at work, the stresses of everyday life can seem inescapable. For people with IBS, controlling stress is an important part of managing your symptoms. Stress commonly triggers or makes IBS symptoms worse.

The mind and body are intimately connected, and you have what’s referred to as the gut-brain axis. This refers to a two-way signaling relationship between your digestive tract and your central nervous system.

Yoga is one of the best ways to get your stress levels in check. In studies that compared yoga to a low-FODMAP diet, yoga is shown to be as effective as a low-FODMAP diet in reducing symptoms of IBS.

Patients with IBS can benefit from making yoga a part of their daily lifestyle. Yoga is a relaxing practice that involves holding certain poses and incorporates breath control and meditation. It’s shown to reduce markers of stress, particularly in lowering cortisol, which is a stress hormone.  

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco

When it comes to IBS habits that can trigger or make IBS symptoms worse, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco are the big three. If you currently smoke, make a plan to quit. If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to quit, discuss medication that can help with the team at Rose Urgent Care and Family Practice.

Caffeine is a challenging habit to break. You may be used to having a cup of joe in the morning to get you going. Slowly reducing your intake is a good way to wean yourself off of your caffeine habit. Many patients find that their symptoms greatly improve when they abstain from irritating substances like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Keep a food diary

Irritable bowel syndrome is a highly individual condition. The foods that contribute to symptoms in one person won’t necessarily have the same effect in someone else. Keeping a food diary is a good way to track your symptoms and make connections between the foods you eat and the symptoms you experience.

For instance, chocolate may trigger symptoms in one patient with IBS, while another one can tolerate it without problems.

Engage in Exercise

Exercise is likely the last thing you want to do when feeling bloated. However, IBS patients benefit from engaging in physical activity. Exercise improves the overall wellbeing of people with IBS and can help you cope emotionally with IBS symptoms. Most importantly, physical activity improves the IBS symptoms.

If you aren’t used to exercising, it’s best to start slowly to give your body time to adjust. Work with your provider to determine an exercise plan that will work best for you. Walking is a good place to start. IBS patients benefit from getting 150 minutes of exercise each week. It’s easiest to break this up into 30-minute sessions for five days out of the week.  

Partner with a provider

The team at Rose Urgent Care and Family Practice can help you effectively manage IBS symptoms. Call our Vancouver or Battle Ground, Washington offices to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners.

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