If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you do not have to live in constant discomfort. Studies have show that through diet, supplements and lifestyle changes, one can reduce and even eliminate most symptoms.
o Fiber matters. Adequate dietary fiber is important, but what is more important is the adequate consumption of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps prevent diarrhea and constipation as well as regulating intestinal spasms and easing cramps and pain. Good sources of soluble fiber include raw or steamed vegetables, apples, pears, berries, unprocessed roled oats, barley, rye, brown rice, psyllium husks and seeds, and spelt products. Insoluble fiber includes wheat, bran, nuts, legumes and salad greens, is best avoided initially until IBS symptoms settle down. These foods may be reintroduced later as digestion improvements.
o Glutamine. Glutamine, a type of amino acid, has a particular affinity for the digestive and nervous systems, helping to heal an irritated gut lining and reducing allergic responses to foods.
o Slippery elm. This herb is a bowel normaliser, meaning it can be used for both constipation and diarrhea. It settles the gut, alleviating cramps, wind, reflux and acidic indigestion.
o Aloe vera. Taken just before bed, aloe vera juice is very effective for constipation. It also has a mild detoxifying effect, helping to heal and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. It can be taken together with glutamine and slippery elm.
o Probiotics. Maintaining sufficient good bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract is important for healthy digestion. Probiotics can be bought in powder or capsule and should be taken twice daily before meal. Lactobacillus plantarum is also very effective. Boosting your digestive enzymes can aid the absorption of nutrients in the body.
o More herbs. Strong fennel, ginger and peppermint teas help alleviate wind, pain and nausea. They also increase gut motility. These herbs can be taken in tablet or capsule form if you do not like the taste of the teas.
o The right fats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs), especially the omega 3 fatty acids, reduce the inflammation associated with IBS. Eat oily fish regularly and / or take a fish or flaxseed oil supplement. These oils also have numerous other health benefits for the immune and cardiovascular systems. Flaxseed oil also reduces allergic tendencies. If you have a sensitive stomach, take oils in small quantities at a time and always with food.
Foods to Avoid
o Dairy products. Many people with IBS have a shortfall of laxtase, the enzyme that breaks down milk sugar. Stick to dairy free options, such as soy, rice, almond or oat milk. Most are available in organic and low-fat versions.
o Gluten. May present in wheat and also some other grains.
o Sugar, and artificial sweeteners, especially sorbitol.
o Red meat, which is high in saturated fat and hard-to-digest animal protein.
o Caffeine. This causes the bowel to spasm. Choose fruity hearbal teas, brewed beverages made from roasted carob or nuts, or white tea, which has only a mount of caffeine.
o Alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. Alcohol-free wine and beer are better choices.
o Soft drinks and carbonated beverages, including mineral waters, which can cause bloating and wind.