What is irritable bowel syndrome?
When health professionals talk about irritable bowel syndrome, it is often diagnosed when there is a digestive reaction to certain foods or drinks that causes diarrhea, gas, pain, or indigestion in a person.
After ingesting certain foods or drinks, people experience discomfort, indigestion, and/or stomach pain. These pains and discomforts are caused by a change in the speed at which these foods pass through the digestive system, which inevitably causes diarrhea (the colon has not absorbed the water from the food taken in) or constipation (when the contractions are slow, the colon absorbs too much fluid and the stools are hard and dry and difficult to pass).
In short, a person with irritable bowel syndrome can have diarrhea or constipation or both at the same time and you know how painful it can be.
This health problem is very common and is now the second most common illness in the western world, with the common cold coming in the first place.
People at risk of irritable bowel syndrome:
- Women suffer from irritable bowel syndrome twice as often as men.
- Westerners are most affected by irritable bowel syndrome, and it is the second most common health problem after the common cold.
Causes of irritable bowel syndrome
Although medical research is becoming increasingly advanced, the causes of irritable bowel syndrome are still relatively unknown. However, there are reasons, or rather predictions, that could explain why many people are affected by this health problem.
A person may have abnormal bowel contractions, i.e. they are painful, too slow, or too fast.
Another hypothesis that would explain why women are more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome is a hormonal change that would exacerbate the situation when menstruation occurs. Contrary to popular belief, irritable bowel syndrome is not caused by stress.
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
It is important to note that the frequency, severity, intensity, and number of symptoms vary from person to person. However, if you notice more than one symptom, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible so that you can receive treatment if necessary.
Here are some of the common symptoms of IBS:
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling of stool not being completely evacuated
- Rounded abdomen
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Stomach cramps
- An irresistible urge to go to the toilet
- Mucus in stool
- Gastroesophageal reflux
Diet tips to remedy and relieve irritable bowel syndrome
Adjust your diet
Since your gut has problems with certain foods, you should avoid them as much as possible to avoid consequences such as diarrhea and constipation. You should definitely modify and improve your diet according to the recommendations of the NIH and follow a FODMAP diet and you should also eliminate junk foods and fast foods, which are also responsible for the severity, frequency, and intensity of symptoms associated with IBS.
The most important thing is to avoid fatty, heavy, spicy foods, butter, animal fats, fatty dairy products, fatty meats, fatty cheeses, sweets, pastries, cakes, commercial condiments, margarine, fried or baked foods, mayonnaise, crackers, chips, etc.
In addition, you should avoid certain beverages such as soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and coffee, which are rich in stimulants, but also in sugar, which will not help you. Finally, avoid eating foods that are known to cause flatulence such as cabbage, legumes, Garlic, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, cauliflower, etc.
Avoid coffee and tobacco
As you know, coffee and tobacco are stimulants and coffee has harmful effects on the intestines. The same goes for all other caffeinated drinks, such as energy drinks and sodas. As for tobacco, it contains toxic and carcinogenic substances that can enter your colon and worsen your health.
Limit dairy consumption
Although dairy products are considered a healthy food group, people with IBS should avoid milk, yogurt, and cheese because they often have trouble tolerating lactose, which is the sugar found in milk.
Avoid spicy foods
Spicy foods are contraindicated in IBS because they irritate the stomach and intestines. Some types of food are quite spicy, for example, Chinese food, Thai food, Mexican food, and Indian food.
Eat soluble fiber
Soluble fiber forms a somewhat gelatinous mass when it comes into contact with liquids, especially water. It is this fiber that lowers the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the most common killer worldwide. In addition, soluble fiber acts as a filter in the intestines by reducing the absorption of carbohydrates, which greatly helps people with diabetes to have lower blood sugar levels.
Reduce and better manage stress
Although stress is not the real cause of irritable bowel syndrome, it certainly won’t improve your health either. Nowadays, almost everyone, including children, is stressed about everything and it is known how harmful stress is to health, being a risk factor for many diseases and even cancer. When it comes to irritable bowel syndrome, it makes this syndrome worse – which you don’t want. So, learn today how to better manage your daily stress.
Eating at regular times
Given the lifestyle and rhythm that many adults follow on a daily basis, it is not surprising that many of them do not eat at a regular time, and even more so, do not eat with their families, which I find very unfortunate, because eating with my family is almost the most important thing for me, because it is the only time of the day when we are together, calm and can share with each other. As far as irritable bowel is concerned, eating smaller meals at regular intervals helps to ease the symptoms.
Complications of irritable bowel syndrome
There is no doubt that this health problem, especially if left untreated, can lead to the following complications.
- Heart palpitations
- Bladder urgency
- Increased frequency of the need to urinate
- Chronic stress
- Increased pain associated with menstruation
- Pain during intercourse
- Sleep disturbances
As for other treatments available to treat or correct irritable bowel syndrome, this will largely depend on your age, gender, medical history, medications you are taking, and the severity of the condition. Your doctor will decide which treatment is the most effective and least invasive for your health and well-being.
But as you have seen, diet, lifestyle, and stress management are effective treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and for your current and future health, because stress and an unbalanced diet do not contribute to your mental and physical wellbeing. It may not be easy to cope with this health problem on a daily basis, but I am convinced that by applying these dietary tips, managing stress, and avoiding certain foods, your condition will improve significantly.