A staggering 2 in 10 UK adults suffer with IBS, and what’s worse, is far too many people suffer in silence. In this journal entry we look at how to spot the signs, what could be a the trigger and what you can do to ease your symptoms.
- Stomach cramps
You may not experience them all together and one is usually more dominant.
Causes of IBS
The exact cause of IBS remains unknown; it is a complex multifactorial condition. Stress, inflammation post infection, an imbalance in your gut microbiome and psychosocial or genetic factors all play a role.
With a lot of conversation around whether IBS is a psychological disorder, it has been considered a biopsychosocial disorder. Mainly occurring due to the complex interaction of biological, psychological and social factors.
One thing that is known, 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 (read more here).
Taking a regular yoga class can have a huge impact on reducing your stress levels. Which can 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 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 impact IBS and begin a perpetual cycle of gut-affecting-brain and brain-affecting-gut.
Modern day living
With stress being so present in almost every aspect of our modern day lives, it’s worth looking at how best to manage it.
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.
What can I do to help?
It might be handier to take on board a few things you can do as opposed to what you shouldn’t:
- Prebiotics & Probiotics
Ensure your diet is rich in prebiotics (Aguulp for Gut is exactly that) which will help your good gut bacteria to thrive. Also consider taking probiotics which will put large amounts of good gut bacteria into your gut. For more information on the types of probiotic foods you should eat, read more here.
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).
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. You may want to start cutting down on the triggering foods and reintroducing these at a later date to understand how much you may be able to tolerate.