What is irritable bowel syndrome? Irritable bowel syndrome is a highly common gut disorder, affecting more than 20% of the total population. Also called functional bowel disorder, irritable bowel syndrome is not a disease, as it does not cause any severe damage. Neither does it progress to any serious illness.
People suffering from IBS often complain about gastritis problem. A certain amount of gas is healthy and normal. An average person passes gas 14 times. However, if you are experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and change in bowel movements, then you might be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome often find it difficult to digest food.
Difference Between IBD And IBS?
People tend to confuse irritable bowel syndrome with inflammatory bowel disease. Both affect the intestine and cause similar symptoms, but they are two different health conditions. IBD (Inflammatory bowel disorder) is characterized by the inflammation of the intestines, which is caused due to the body’s impaired immune response. Irritable bowel syndrome does not involve a dysfunctional inflammatory response that can damage the organs. It is quite painful and debilitating, but fortunately, does not carry the same health risk as inflammatory bowel disease.
Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are quite variable. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. There is no natural cure for IBS, but the symptoms can be eased by following elimination diet.
Causes Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
There are a variety of factors involved in causing IBS. Common causes include:
- Sensitivity of the gut
- Disturbance in the bowel movement
- Inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract
Diet Plan For Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Diet is the primary form of treatment in diarrhea prominent type of IBS. You just need to make some changes in the diet to get relief from irritable bowel syndrome. But it isn’t easy to find the right diet when you have irritable bowel syndrome. The diet for people suffering from IBS is highly individualized. It depends entirely on the severity of the symptoms. Below are a few diets for irritable bowel syndrome, which you can consider.
People suffering from acute IBS should follow an elimination diet for 5 to 7 days, which is basically a meal plan that avoids all the potential IBS triggering foods. And the first step to elimination diet is diagnosing food intolerance.
Diagnosing food intolerance requires a hydrogen breath test, which can be performed only by the doctor. Besides hydrogen breath test, excluding suspected foods for a given period can also help to identify food tolerance. This will monitor if the symptoms improve when these foods are excluded from the diet or not. Then slowly reintroduce the same foods one by one. The trick is to eat a variety of foods in moderation, without eating too much of one particular food at a time.
The Low FODMAP Diet:
Low FODMAP diet can also help to improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo Di Mono-saccharides And Polyols. This group of short chain carbohydrates is not well absorbed in the gut. It gets fermented and makes the fluid to enter into the bowel, causing bloating and diarrhea. Reducing the total amount of fermentable sugars may help to improve the symptoms of the IBS sufferers.
Gluten Free Diet:
Gluten free diet is another option for people suffering from IBS. Gluten is protein composite found in wheat, which can cause diarrhea and constipation. A gluten-free diet excludes all the foods that contain gluten. This diet can help to treat celiac diseases as well.
Note: Such dietary regimes should be followed under the assistance of a dietitian only.
Best Foods For People Suffering From Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
The best foods for irritable bowel syndrome patients are those that are gentle on the digestive system and encourage smooth passage through the intestine. These include:
People suffering from constipation should consume a minimum of 35 grams of fiber daily. The goal is to consume an adequate fiber intake without experiencing debilitating abdominal pain and bloating. Fruits and vegetables are your best sources of fiber. Avoid grains if you’re suffering from gluten intolerance.
Probiotics help to balance the gut bacteria and competes with the bad bacteria to make space in the gut. This leads to fewer bacteria in the gut, making a healthy gut environment. It also eases digestion and improves the symptoms of bloating and diarrhea. Yogurts, drinks, and supplements are some of the common forms of probiotics. However, probiotics may not work for everybody.
- Soluble Fiber:
Soluble fiber, broken down by the natural bacteria in the bowels dissolves in the water and softens the stools, enabling it to pass quickly through the colon. Increasing soluble fiber intake may help to improve the symptoms of constipation. At the same time, you need to adjust the fiber intake according to the symptoms. Include the high-fiber foods gradually to let the gut become used to the extra fiber.
People suffering from IBS should drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water will keep the stools moist, making it pass easily from the body. It also helps to replenish the water levels in people suffering from diarrhea. Aim to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses daily. You can also drink herbal tea to replace the lost fluids.
- Golden Linseeds:
Golden linseeds improve the symptoms of bloating, constipation and diarrhea. They are an excellent source of soluble and non-soluble fiber and can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Foods That Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
There are certain foods that people suffering from IBS have a heightened sensitivity to foods. Even a bowl of spicy food can cause minor discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to gas and bloating in the IBS sufferers. So you need to eliminate foods that make diarrhea, gastritis and bloating worse. Some of the most common foods that cause irritable bowel syndrome include:
Caffeine stimulates the activity in the colon, worsening the symptoms of diarrhea and IBS. Limit the tea and coffee to one or two cups a day. And remember, filter coffee contains higher amounts of caffeine as compared to instant coffee.
- Carbonated Drink:
Carbonated drinks like alcohol and fizzy drinks can worsen the symptoms, by trapping the gas in the intestine. Alcohol, on the other hand, stimulates the intestines, making the symptoms worse. So limit the intake to control the symptoms.
- Milk Products:
Lactose, a form of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products can have detrimental effects on the irritable bowel syndrome. To digest lactose, the body produces an enzyme called lactase. But when you eat lactase in high doses, the bacteria present in the large intestine ferment it, resulting in abdominal pain and gas. Naturally, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and hard cheese are better tolerated. If you experience any discomfort, then avoid cheese, yogurt, ice cream and sour cream.
- Foods High In Sugar:
Sweeteners like honey, fruit juice, corn syrup, sorbitol, and xylitol can irritate the gastrointestinal tract of the IBS sufferers. So skip any sweet treat or beverage that contains any of these sweeteners. Sorbitol is poorly absorbed and can have a laxative effect when it enters the colon. So avoid fruits that are naturally high in sorbitol like apples, peaches, plums, prunes, cherries, and nectarines. When not well absorbed, fructose can draw water from the body, causing osmotic diarrhea. So avoid eating foods containing fructose in high quantities.
- Raw Vegetables:
Raw vegetables, whether rich in soluble or insoluble fiber can be tough for IBS sufferers. It often triggers gas, diarrhea, bloating and gas. In addition, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are problematic and can spell trouble even when cooked.
- Carbohydrate-Rich Foods:
Eating carbohydrate-rich foods can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea in IBS sufferers. Some people face difficulty in digesting compounds in wheat and wheat flour. Wheat contains gluten, a protein that makes difficult for some people to digest. Common carbohydrate-rich foods that should be avoided include crackers, whole wheat bread, cereals and baked goods. Whole and refined grains should be limited until the symptoms subside.
- Resistant Starch:
Resistant starch reaches the colon intact and gets fermented by the bacteria in the gut. This produces gas and waste products, leading to irritable bowel syndrome. Hence, you must reduce your resistant starch content to improve the symptoms of diarrhea.
- Beans And Lentils:
Beans and lentils are quite difficult to digest and cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping and stomachache.
- Insoluble Fiber:
Insoluble fiber is generally healthy, but can be hard on the intestines of people suffering irritable bowel syndrome. This type of fiber is not dissolved in the water. It is not readily broken down, so it moves through the colon intact. It absorbs water and allows the stool to pass quickly. Reducing this type of fiber may help to improve the symptoms of diarrhea.
- Processed Foods:
Reduce your intake of processed foods like crisp biscuits, cakes, and pizza. Ready to eat meal should be avoided. Partially baked meals like garlic bread or pizza bases should also be avoided.
- Fatty Foods:
Fatty foods like meat and deep fried foods are difficult to digest and can trigger the risk of irritable bowel syndrome. Reduce the consumption pies, pastries, sausages and whole milk. Mayonnaise and salad cream should also be avoided.
Treatment For Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
If you are unable to get your symptoms controlled by diet, then you need to visit your doctor for appropriate medication. The doctor will assess the condition, especially if you are suffering from any of the following problems:
- Celiac diseases
- Family history of colon cancer
- Blood or pus in stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- A lump in the rectal area
The possible medications for irritable bowel syndrome include antispasmodics, antidiarrheal and antidepressant. Antidepressants regulate the neurotransmitter serotonin, aiding smooth and regular contractions of the intestines.
Note: Do not treat irritable bowel syndrome with over the counter medicines and laxative. IBS is a chronic disorder and consuming over the counter medications can only provide short-term benefits. A laxative is also hard in the intestines and can lead to irreparable damage. So consult your doctor before taking any medication.
Tips To Get Rid Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Sometimes a healthy and balanced diet may not help to alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but adopting simple tips and lifestyle changes can help you deal with the problem more efficiently. Below are a few tips to deal with irritable bowel syndrome.
- Live Stress-Free:
Stress can trigger a variety a variety of physiological responses, including changes in the gastrointestinal tract functions. There are varieties of stress management methods you can try like massage, yoga, meditation and deep breathing methods. If the stress has got out of control, then you need to visit a therapist to learn how to respond to the stressful events in the life.
Exercise is essential for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal system. A fit and active body will keep the stomach healthy and better regulated. A study has concluded that IBS sufferers who exercised for 30 minutes daily experienced a dramatic improvement in the abdominal pain and stool problems. Walk for 30 minutes daily to counteract the IBS symptoms. Exercise is also an excellent stress reliever. No matter what the cause of stress is or what the symptoms are, regular exercise can help you feel better.
- Eat Small Meals:
Eat small and frequent meals throughout the day instead of taking larger meals. Try to eat at the same time every day and do not overload the stomach. Eating excess amount of food at a go can lead to discomfort in some people. Do not overload the gut at one time. Do not rush while eating the food. And don’t forget to chew your food thoroughly. Try to eat meals at the same time each day to get the body used to a schedule.
We hope these tips help you get rid of irritable bowel syndrome the fastest way possible. If you have any query or suggestion, leave us a comment below.