KEEP A FOOD DIARY
This will help you to identify any dietary triggers, typical triggers can include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, fats and fruits. You can use this diary to make initial adjustments to your eating habits. A food diary can also be helpful when discussing IBS with your GP or dietician. Don’t dive into a heavily restricted diet without professional guidance. Always seek the support of a qualified dietician, especially if considering a low FODMAP diet.
A point to remember: Gluten is a protein that will only cause issues if you have an allergy or coeliac disease. If you have a wheat intolerance, you will be able to tolerate small amounts of wheat. The same goes for dairy products – they only cause issues with your IBS if you have a milk protein allergy (rare) or lactose intolerance (more often). Some dairy contains very little or no lactose, so you can switch to these products.
FIND WAYS TO RELAX
For IBS patients, sleep quality is paramount. A good night’s sleep will help your body restore itself and give you the energy you need to face a new day, even with an upset tummy. If you often wake up too early, buy a silk sleeping mask – it works wonders! Go to bed at the same time and avoid blue light exposure too, it suppresses melatonin, a hormone essential for our sleep rhythm. If you must work at the computer, use blue light glasses.
One of the most effective ways to reduce your IBS symptoms is hypnotherapy. It is a form of guided hypnosis that helps you to address the brain-gut axis. Your brain and your gut are interconnected and receive the wrong messages, causing flare-ups and pain. Hypnotherapy addresses that. You meet in person or by video with a specialised therapist, who will guide you step by step into a relaxed state. It is most effective when it comes to abdominal pain- many studies showed it can reduce it by an average of half or more.
In the U.S., there has already been a change: Mount Sinai in New York, the University of Michigan, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the University of Washington in Seattle, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Loyola University Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the Chicago area all offer or suggest hypnotherapy to IBS patients.
GET PLENTY OF EXERCISES
Regular movement will help your body digest food better and keep you – well, regular. Incorporate 30 minutes of daily exercise into your routine. That doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds- you can simply increase your NEAT. Non-exercise active thermogenesis (NEAT) accounts for calories burned outside your typical exercise. That can be standing, walking, climbing stairs or reaching for that cookie jar (excluding the cookies eaten afterwards).
Thanks to our largely sedentary jobs, food deliveries and labour-saving devices, our NEAT has decreased substantially in the last few years. That’s bad news as it burns between 15- 30% of a person’s daily calories and keeps your body in shape. Here are some ways to increase your NEAT:
Take the stairs
have a little dance in the kitchen when your favourite song is on
stand and move during T.V. ad breaks of your favourite show
walk when talking on the phone
Put your tea bags up high, so you get a nice stretch in every time you reach for them
Get a standing desk if you work a lot in front of a screen
EAT THE RIGHT KIND OF FIBRE
You might already know that fibre is a non-digestible carbohydrate. Why is it essential for the body? It adds bulk to our diet and makes us feel fuller for longer. Fibre also helps digestion and can prevent constipation. There is strong evidence that eating plenty of it helps to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Yet, most of us don’t eat the recommended 30 g per day. Foods high in fibre include whole grains, vegetables (potatoes with skin are great) and fruits (especially pears, berries, melon and oranges). Nuts are also a good source of fibre.
Here comes the interesting part for those with IBS. There are two types of fibre:
Most plant foods contain both, but some foods are high in one type of fibre. Soluble fibre, also known as viscous fibre, absorbs water when ingested. It then creates a thick gel in the colon, and it is this gel that creates the feeling of fullness.
Soluble fibre is concentrated in beans, fruits, and oat products and is an excellent choice for most people with IBS. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends taking soluble fibre supplements for people with IBS – try and see if taking these help you.
Insoluble fibre breaks down in the water and passes straight through the digestive system, helping to eliminate unwanted leftovers in the gut. It is typically found in the roughage of foods like fruit skins and seed husks. Foods such as beans and nuts, and grain products contain good amounts of insoluble fibre. It may make the pain and bloat worse.
As you know, IBS is not a one-size-fits all- some have problems with foods rich in insoluble fibre, and others with IBS have no issues with them. Even more, some foods high in soluble fibre, like beans, can cause problems for some people who have IBS.
That’s why a food diary (see above) is so helpful. Try taking soluble fibre supplements instead if you experience pain or bloating from certain foods.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Drinking more water has many benefits, no matter what your IBS symptoms are. Furthermore, water intake could improve constipation. If you suffer from diarrhoea, drinking more water will prevent dehydration. If you don’t fancy drinking only water, you can buy a mint plant from the supermarket and add a few fresh mint leaves daily. Ginger tea can also be an alternative. If you are going out, punches or beers are safe if they don’t contain sweeteners on the high FODMAP list.
If you would like to know how hypnotherapy can improve your IBS contact me to discuss more.