With IBS Awareness month coming to an end, we thought it was important to leave you with some take home tips and tricks to help you better manage your IBS symptoms.
In our first blog we covered what is IBS, the types of IBS + the cause and symptoms. With all of that knowledge on board, let’s jump into some of our top tips to manage and reduce symptoms of IBS.
So, what do I do about my IBS?
IBS can cause a lot of discomfort and inconvenience, but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms.
Stress, Anxiety & Sleep
IBS is primarily a disorder of the gut-brain axis, meaning that stress & anxiety are the main culprits in triggering and causing IBS symptoms. First and foremost, the best piece of advice is to nurture the gut-brain axis. This means reducing stress and anxiety and introducing mindfulness practice to help with this. It may be difficult if you’ve never done it before but your gut will love you for it! Our top suggestions include meditation, yoga, breathwork, stillness and journaling.
Maintaining a regular sleeping schedule is also extremely important in IBS management. Not getting enough sleep can disrupt the circadian rhythm and force the body into a fight or flight response. This will then trigger stress & anxiety responses and have the body functioning at a high stress state, making IBS symptoms even worse. Find a sleep schedule that works for you and try to achieve at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Diet & Exercise
It goes without saying that a healthy gut comes down to what we eat and what we do each day. Times of indulgence here and there are not what primarily cause gut issues, it is what we do everyday that does. This means that your daily diet and lifestyle choices are super important. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are two things that have been linked to better gut health and reduced IBS symptoms, time and time again.
If you’re someone that struggles in this field then this list is for you:
- Reduce alcohol consumption to no more than 1 standard drink per day
- Limit caffeine to 1 caffeine-containing drink per day
- Reduce fats, sugars and sweeteners as much as possible
- Keep hydrated and drink at least 1.5-2 litres of water per day
- Aim for a balanced diet that includes enough fibre. Our recommendation is 2 pieces of fruit, 5 portions of veggies, 3 portions of wholegrains and 1 portion of nuts/seeds/legumes per day. (Aim for consistency, not perfection).
- Regularly exercise and move your body. Aim for some kind of movement each day.
Vitamins & Supplements
The key to managing and reducing IBS symptoms primarily comes down to good diet choices and stress management, but vitamins & supplements can definitely be useful when used alongside these things. In fact, using vitamins and supplements alongside lifestyle changes is the key to targeting the root cause of gut health issues.
- IBS causes an overly sensitive & inflamed intestine so introducing quality vitamins & supplements that aim to reduce inflammation & irritation and soothe the gut are great for helping to manage this.
- Introducing an IBS specific probiotic can also be extremely beneficial in helping to restore the good gut bacteria and creating a healthy microbiome in the gut. It is important to know what to look for when purchasing a probiotic because probiotics require a very personal approach and one that worked for your friend may not work for you. Here’s our top tips when looking for a probiotic for IBS:
- Look for an IBS specific probiotic that has specific indications & claims related to IBS management & symptoms (read the back of the label)
- More does not always mean better. Focus on finding a probiotic specific for your needs rather than looking for the one that is double strength, contains multiple strains or has the highest dosage.
- Look for one that is clinically tested on humans, not just animals! It is important to know that you are putting your money into something that has shown to help humans specifically.
- There is research to suggest that peppermint oil coated capsules or peppermint tea can act as an antispasmodic and helps to relax the intestine and therefore relieve symptoms of IBS. This is definitely something worth carrying around with you in case you experience a flare up at an unexpected time.
If your symptoms are severe or don't improve with self-care measures, it's important to see a healthcare professional for medical advice. We recommend consulting a naturopath and dietician if you feel you need expert advice.