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What helps irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not well understood and finding ways of managing your symptoms can be difficult. Here are a few pointers that can help:-
- Take control; no two IBS sufferers are alike, and the first step is to understand that you have the ability to take control of your condition rather than your condition taking control of you. Individuals with IBS need to feel actively involvement in their treatment; taking control and feeling empowered are really vital as IBS can seem like such an unpredictable condition.
- Eliminate, reduce or avoid aggravating foods; some foods will nearly always cause symptoms while others don’t, and it can be incredibly frustrating trying to pin down what you can and can’t eat without suffering an attack. There sometimes seems to be no logic to it; far away from feeling empowered and in control! With chronic conditions such as IBS there really is growing evidence that what goes into the mouth produces a reaction in the body, and that food is a really important factor.
- Get tested; Dietary changes can be helpful for IBS patients, but no one specific diet is recommended because no two cases are alike. The simple finger-prick home to laboratory IgG blood test from YorkTest (www.yorktest.com) has been shown to identify culprit foods in a published, independent, double blind placebo controlled clinical trial of IBS sufferers.
- See your Doctor; there are a variety of types of medications that may be prescribed including antidiarrheals, laxatives, antispasmodics and antidepressants. Stress and anxiety can increase IBS symptoms so antianxiety/antidepressant medications may also be helpful.
- Reduce stress; stress plays a role in the development of IBS. Try yoga, meditation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy.
- Take some exercise; this is a proven stress reliever. You should aim for 30 minutes of aerobic, strength, and stretching exercise at least three times a week.
- Try taking digestive enzymes; with meals these can help break down food while your gut heals. You also may benefit from nutrients that help heal the lining of the gut including fish oil, GLA (from evening primrose oil), zinc, vitamin A, glutamine and others.
- Repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria; try a good quality probiotic that help to further normalise gut function.
- Remember the consequences of eating foods that you know you react to. It's all too easy, especially after a few drinks, to throw caution to the wind and scoff down whatever is put in front of you. You may have felt a lot better recently on your "Free-From" diet and are prepared to take the risk. STOP and remember how you feel when your IBS symptoms are at their worst.
- Take some time out every day for YOU; IBS sufferers need to reach a point where they have a positive attitude toward their condition. Obviously, this is a gradual process but the goal should be to develop effective coping strategies to help you live your best,"as normal as possible" life.