5 Dietitian Tips to Manage IBS
IBS is a condition that affects more people than you think!
Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that affects your large intestine. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and even cramping. IBS can affect your quality of life, and symptoms can be exacerbated by stress, illness and eating habits. Here are our 5 top tips to beat the discomfort and manage your symptoms:
1. Find the triggers
Keep a diary to track or log your food intake and symptoms. This will help you to pinpoint which foods are the real culprits. Once you have identified the offending foods, remove them from your diet for a few weeks and then slowly introduce them back to assess your tolerance levels. Bear in mind that the concern with cutting foods from your diet in a random fashion is that you risk having an unbalanced diet, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies (especially fibre), which can eventually worsen your symptoms.
2. Consider a low FODMAP diet
The term FODMAP is an acronym for "Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols". They are a group of carbohydrates that are not well digested by some people, which can worsen IBS symptoms. The low FODMAP diet should always be controlled by a Dietitian to ensure that you get adequate nutrition despite the many food restrictions on this diet.
Long-term restriction of FODMAPs is not recommended. Reintroduction of single foods is recommended after six to eight weeks to assess individual tolerance. This is to promote variety and reduce the risk of nutrient inadequacies.
3. Create good eating habits to improve digestion
Eat three regular meals a day and do not skip meals.
Eat slowly and mindfully in a relaxed manner (preferably at a table) and avoid gobbling down food on the run.
Do not overeat at mealtimes
Eat slowly and chew your food well.
Avoid carbonated beverages.
Don’t drink through a straw.
Avoid chewing gum as this will cause you to swallow air.
4. Trial a probiotic
Some strains of bacteria that live in our gut called probiotics may provide relief for your IBS symptoms. These bacteria are called Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus strains (GG and Lc705).
It is recommended to increase the number of bacteria by taking a supplement.
Remember that the "good" bacteria in your gut feed off fibre, so while taking a probiotic might help, ensuring an adequate intake of fibre is vital as these bacteria produce substances we called short-chain fatty acids that facilitate good gut movement. Soft or soluble fibres (such as rolled oats, oat bran, butternut, pumpkin, gem squash, papaya, banana and sweet potato, or additional peeled fruits and vegetables) are usually better tolerated at the start, with a gradual progression to a higher fibre diet.
5. Choose water as a drink
Choose water as your main source of fluid. Not only does water hydrate you, but it also replaces lost fluids (especially if you have diarrhoea) or contributes to a desirable stool consistency (if you have constipation). The general recommendation for fluid intake is six to eight 250ml glasses (or one to two litres) per day. But bear in mind that this is a general recommendation, which is influenced by your water losses, the environmental temperature, your size and even your gender.
IBS is a condition that can be managed - but it is always best to do so under the guide of a Dietitian. To discuss how we can help, please get in touch today.