If you're one of the many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then you will know all too well that this condition can tricky to manage. The symptoms can be debilitating, with symptoms such as cramping, bloating and diarrhoea.
With so much information out there, it can be hard to know how best to deal to manage your symptoms and keep yourself healthy. We've put together our top tips for managing IBS.
1. See a doctor
If you think you may be suffering from IBS, it's important to speak to your doctor or dietician. They'll be able to properly assess you, outline your symptoms, conduct a full physical examination and provide advice on the best way forward with managing your IBS.
2. Keep a food diary
Every person deals with IBS differently. Some foods might leave you gassy and bloated whilst others may cause absolutely no problems. It's important for you to figure out which foods you can eat and which ones you should avoid. A food diary where you track everything you eat in a day is a great way to do this. You can use this as a guide in the future to make sure you’re eating foods that will keep your body happy.
3. Take a look at the FODMAP diet
If you’ve never heard of the FODMAP diet, it's an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, and is a game changer for IBS sufferers. All of the long, hard-to-pronounce words above are a group of carbohydrates that the digestive system often struggles to break down. By eating as little food from these groups as possible, you could be avoiding many of your symptoms.
This might sound simple, but often keeping track of the various foods that make up these carbohydrate groups can leave you feeling quite overwhelmed and confused. Lucky for you, numerous free (and some not so free) apps and websites have been developed to help. We recommend: The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet Guide and FODMAP by FoodMaestro.
4. Take probiotics
Research has shown that probiotics may help to alleviate the onset of IBS symptoms by supplementing the gut's natural bacteria and helping to balance intestinal flora. Try eating a cup or two of yoghurt a day and see if your symptoms respond.
5. Develop a strong support network
Let’s be honest - IBS can be stressful, frustrating and embarrassing. You may go through times where you feel completely helpless and alone but it's important to remind yourself that you truly aren’t. Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and understanding. There are also plenty of online IBS support groups which can be easily found on social media pages and websites where you can meet and chat to people going through the same things as you.