IBS Awareness Month
April is IBS awareness month and as always, we’re eager to continue the conversation around gut health, especially with such an all too common place condition being highlighted. A staggering 2 in 10 UK adults suffer with IBS, and what’s worse, is far too many people suffer in silence, feeling too embarrassed to ask for help or seek advice.
With symptoms ranging from flatulence and cramps, bloating to constipation and/or diarrhoea it can be quite difficult to spot; it’s no wonder why despite it being so present, it’s still largely misunderstood. With symptoms that wax and wane and the changing nature of the condition, it can be quite hard to get your head around, let alone your gut.
The exact cause of IBS remains unknown; it is a complex multifactorial condition. With many factors thought to play a role in its cause. Stress, inflammation post infection, an unhealthy imbalance in your gut microbiome, with other factors such as psychosocial or genetic factors playing a role.
With a lot of conversation around whether or not IBS may be a psychological disorder – it has been considered a biopsychosocial disorder, occurring due to the complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors.
One thing that is known, well-known in fact, is that IBS is stress-sensitive, with stressful events triggering a flare up of symptoms, while psychological treatments have shown efficacy in relieving symptom severity and improving quality of life. Unsurprising considering the now regularly highlighted link between the gut and the brain; the gut-brain axis (which you can read more about here). Something as simple as taking a regular yoga class can have a huge impact on reducing your stress levels and in turn positively reduce the severity of your IBS symptoms and improve your gut health.
You’ve heard the saying ‘worried sick’; whoever first came up with it was incredibly intuitive and had a great understanding of the mind’s power over the body. It is important you’re not starving yourself of food for thought, the mind requires fuelling like every other part of us. A poor diet can impact both physical and mental health which can (in a double-pronged attack) impact IBS and begin a perpetual cycle of gut-affecting-brain, brain-affecting-gut, and so on.
With stress being so bloody present in almost every aspect of our wonderful modern day lives its worth looking at how best to manage it, beyond finding a place somewhere on our planet where we can live as we once did, occasionally getting chased by a lion but otherwise plodding along loose, calm, and care-free.
So many factors impact us today which didn’t many years ago. How many times do you pick up your phone in the day, how many emails do you receive, how much news do you read, scary news, sad news… how many social media channels do you check. When really how much of this is necessary… and how much of this is helpful to your inner calm?
There’s no known cure for IBS and advice as with most things gut related is infuriating avoid high sugar, salt heavily processed, fatty and spicy foods and curb your intake of irritating beverages such as alcohol, caffeine.
Irritating? The cheek.
It might be handier to take on board a few things you can do as opposed to what you shouldn’t:
- Ensure your diet is rich in prebiotics and consider taking a probiotic to help your good gut bacteria to thrive.
- Eat plenty of healthy and diverse plant based foods that are rich in fibre (but not all at once, some IBS patients find fibre can be irritating and therefore need to be more cautious when increasing it).
- Move! Exercise is amazing not only for our bodies and physical well-being, but also for our mental well-being. Additionally, it aids the body in digestion and weight training is good for your bone health as well.
You can also do a bit of detective work by keeping a food and drink diary so that you can work out the patterns and spot what provokes your symptoms, eventually you may want to start cutting down on the triggering foods and work to reintroducing these at a later date to understand how much you may be able to tolerate.
Team Aguulp x