Your guide to IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may not be dinner conversation appropriate, but IBS is more common than you think.

IBS symptoms range from bloating, irregular bowel movements, nausea, cramping.. but the trouble is finding the cause.

There are the obvious things, such as cutting back on processed foods, sugar, alcohol, potentially gluten i you’re intolerant, maybe even dairy – but what about when you eat an otherwise healthy diet?

Trust me, I’ve been there. I was at my wits end with my tummy troubles – my diet was all whole foods, I exercised regularly and had 8-10 hours sleep a night.

Through trial and error, here is what I have learned, and what has worked for me. Everybody is different, and you have to use your body as your best laboratory to test things out.


Stress Management

For me, stress was the main trigger for my sudden IBS flare up’s. The prolonged high cortisol meant that my digestion was slow and sluggish, as it wasn’t my body’s prime concern. To lower stress I had to make some changes. I swapped my HIIT for the occasional yoga and pilates, which focus on breath work and low impact exercises. I used walking as my daily meditation or reflection time. My phone goes on airplane mode after 8pm, and I basically put myself first. These are good practices anyway, but can be massively helpful to IBS sufferers.


Going low-FODMAP

FODMAP is short for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols; which are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine of IBS sufferers.

FODMAP foods (such as onion, peas, apples) that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. The produces gas which results in the bloating and other lovely side effects. Not everyone is affected by this, but the ones who are are likely to suffer from IBS. Sticking to a Low FODMAP diet has made a huge different to me: Gone is the bloating, I sleep better, and my energy has improved. To get the full list of foods, click this link.


Picking the right probiotic

Gut health is the hot topic right now, so most of us are aware of pre- and probiotic foods. Taking probiotic pills are essential, especially if you have a history of being on antibiotics or medication as these strip your gut wall of good bacteria. Probiotics help to fix that problem, but not all are created equal. They can be pretty pricey, and there are lots of different strains of bacteria, so finding the right one for you can take time. I thoroughly recommend a new brand on the block called Alflorex, which contains a probiotic strain called B. infantis3564 which specifically targets and alleviates the symptoms of IBS.  Only recently launched in the UK, the strain is known in the US as Align, where it is the number one probiotic recommended by gastroenterologists for the treatment of IBS. I’ve taken a LOT of probiotics over the years, and whilst they never did anything bad for my health, I didn’t notice a whole lot of difference. I’ve been taking Alforex for over a month, and it’s done wonders for my regularity (if you know what I mean).


Modify your fibre intake

Myth: dates and figs are good for tummy troubles. STEP AWAY FROM THE PRUNE JUICE.  Fibre can be a confusing subject for many of those affected by IBS.  There are two types of fibre which work differently in the body. Generally, reducing insoluble fibre may help with symptoms but if an increase buy windows 10 key in fibre is necessary, this should be from soluble fibre.

Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and is not readily broken down, so it passes through the digestive system mostly intact. It absorbs water, adds bulk to stools (faeces) and allows waste to be passed through bowels more quickly. Reducing this type of fibre may help to improve symptoms of diarrhoea. Foods to reduce or avoid:

  • Skin, pith and pips of fruit and vegetables.
  • Wheat and bran.
  • Corn (maize).
  • Nuts and whole grains.

Soluble fibre dissolves in water and is broken down by the natural bacteria in the bowels. It softens stools and makes them larger. Increasing this type of fibre may help to improve symptoms of constipation. Foods to include are:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Psyllium and ispaghula
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Beans and pulses


If you suffer from IBS, what tips have you picked up thats improved your symptoms?