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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chitra Jothinathan

Living with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and how to manage it?

Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) involves navigating the symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and changes in bowel habits. While IBS is a chronic condition without a cure, there are various strategies individuals can adopt to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. Diet and lifestyle management play a crucial role in managing IBS effectively.

  1. Identify Trigger Foods: Keeping a food diary can help individuals identify specific foods that trigger IBS symptoms. Common triggers include certain types of carbohydrates (FODMAPs), spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. Once trigger foods are identified, avoiding or reducing their consumption can help alleviate symptoms.

  2. Low-FODMAP Diet: Many individuals with IBS find relief by following a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that can trigger digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals. Under the guidance of a healthcare professional or registered dietitian, gradually eliminating high-FODMAP foods and reintroducing them systematically can help identify which foods contribute to symptoms.

  3. Fiber-Rich Diet: Consuming an adequate amount of fiber can help regulate bowel movements and relieve symptoms of constipation in individuals with IBS-C (constipation-predominant IBS). Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, can be particularly beneficial.

  4. Hydration: Staying hydrated is essential for overall digestive health and can help prevent constipation, a common symptom in IBS. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is recommended.

  5. Regular Meals and Eating Habits: Establishing regular meal times and avoiding skipping meals can help regulate digestion and minimize IBS symptoms.

  6. Mindful Eating: Practicing mindful eating techniques, such as paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, eating slowly without distractions.

  7. Stress Management: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate IBS symptoms. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness practices can help manage stress levels and improve overall well-being.

  8. Regular Exercise: Incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines can help regulate bowel function, reduce stress, and improve overall digestive health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

  9. Probiotics: Some individuals with IBS may benefit from probiotic supplements, which can help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria and improve digestive function. However, it's important to choose probiotics carefully and consult a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.

  10. Seeking Professional Support: Consulting a gastroenterologist or healthcare provider specializing in digestive disorders can provide valuable guidance, diagnostic testing, and personalized treatment plans for managing IBS effectively.

By implementing these diet and lifestyle management strategies, individuals living with IBS can gain better control over their symptoms, improve digestive health, and enhance overall quality of life. It's important to work closely with healthcare professionals and make gradual changes to find what works best for each individual's unique needs and preferences.

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