Lifestyle Changes to Manage Your IBS

With symptoms that may include abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel habits that fluctuate between diarrhea and constipation, finding the right treatment for your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) isn’t easy. 

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, treatment for IBS typically focuses on your most dominant symptom. That’s because no single treatment works for all symptoms of IBS. 

Here at GastroMed in Miami, Florida, our experienced team of board-certified gastroenterologists specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of IBS. But while we sometimes prescribe medications to treat specific symptoms, we focus our care on helping you make lifestyle changes to manage your IBS overall. This includes diet, exercise, and guidelines for managing stress. 

Eating with IBS

What you eat may worsen your IBS. Avoiding your IBS trigger foods may help you feel a lot better. 

Some of the most common foods (and substances) that trigger IBS include:

We recommend you keep a food and symptom diary to help identify your trigger foods. If you experience symptoms within a few hours after eating something, avoid that food for a few days and see if your IBS improves. 

Our IBS specialists may also suggest you try a gluten-free diet. According to a November 2018 review published in the scientific journal Nutrients, the gluten-free diet may alleviate IBS symptoms. 

Though the connection between IBS and gluten isn’t completely understood, scientists theorize people with IBS may not be able to fully break down the protein, resulting in an immune response that triggers symptoms. 

Gluten is a protein naturally present in wheat, rye, and barley. To go gluten-free, you need to avoid any food that contains these common grains (eg, wheat bread, most dry cereals, regular pasta, pizza). 

Because the gluten-free diet may omit many of your favorite foods, you should only follow the diet under the guidance of your gastroenterologist or a registered dietitian. 

Adding more fiber to your diet may also ease your IBS symptoms, especially if constipation is your dominant symptom. Try to get 22 to 34 grams of fiber a day. Be sure to include good sources of soluble fiber, such as beans and oats, which may improve IBS symptoms

Following a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet is also a lifestyle change that may help you manage your IBS. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can exacerbate your IBS symptoms.

Exercising for gut health

Exercise may improve digestion and speed up gastrointestinal transit time. This may alleviate constipation, abdominal pain, gas, and/or bloating. Exercise also boosts your mood and reduces stress. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, along with muscle-building exercises that work out all your major muscle groups at least two days a week. 

Managing stress to manage your IBS

Stress tends to worsen IBS symptoms in most people. Though stress may be unavoidable in certain situations, we recommend you find healthy ways to reduce your stress and gain more control over your IBS symptoms.

In addition to exercise for stress reduction, we recommend:

In addition, making sleep a priority can help you better manage stress, improve mood, and minimize IBS symptoms. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep a night for good health. 

Lifestyle changes to manage your IBS put you back in control of your symptoms and your body. Let us help you manage your IBS. Give us a call at the Miami office nearest you, or contact us online

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