Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) afflicts nearly 20% of adults. It is characterized by irregular muscle contractions in the intestines, resulting in too much or too little fluid in the bowel and severe abdominal pain.
Symptoms vary in different people, ranging from diarrhea to bouts of constipation and diarrhea, coupled with excruciating abdominal pain. Nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating and cramps are some common symptoms. Other signs may include a feeling of incomplete evacuation after moving the bowels and mucus in the stool. Ironically, there are no tests designed yet to identify the disease. The problem is commonly diagnosed by ruling out other serious diseases such as cancer and colitis.
The condition is usually aggravated due to food intolerance or allergies. Though it is not a psychological disorder it may set in or worsen during periods of immense stress and emotional conflict.
A recent study suggests that bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine may be the cause for IBS in certain people. In the case study, 78% of those suffering from chronic IBS were found to have excessive bacterial growth in the bowel. They were treated with antibiotics. The bacterial growth in around 50% of patients was controlled and the disease completely eliminated.
However, this was only a research and there is no complete cure identified up till now for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Doctors generally prescribe drugs to suppress intestinal contraction that cause pain and to help ease diarrhea. Though medication is helpful in controlling the symptoms patients suffering from IBS can use self care methods to avoid future attacks. They can achieve this through dietary modifications.
Tracking The Triggers
The first step in learning to control signs of IBS is recognizing factors that may trigger the symptoms. This is easily done by maintaining a daily dietary diary. A daily record of all the food and beverages ingested needs to be logged in the diary. Making these recordings can help pinpoint the actual culprits.
Women can be prone to IBS during certain phases of their menstrual cycle. Symptoms of IBS in women may occur due to fluctuating hormones. They can establish whether the symptoms of IBS flare up during certain times of their menstrual cycle.
Adjustments Recommended For Cure For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Since the cause for Irritable Bowel Syndrome varies among individuals it is vital to develop an individualized course of therapy for treatment. To start with avoid foods and beverages that seem to cause the condition to flare each time. This can be done by keeping track of food intake and IBS symptoms, in a diary. Constantly check if intake of certain foods causes the condition to flare up. If a consistency in pattern is established in the occurrence of IBS after certain foods are eaten, it directly reflects to food intolerance. It is best to make note of the offending foods and avoid them in future.
Suggested Dietary Modifications
Food plays a crucial role in helping us remain healthy. There are certain foods that are good for us and other that are not so good. It has been said that the right foods can ward off certain diseases. Doctors suggest IBS patients should alter their eating habits and incorporate a certain lifestyle to eliminate IBS symptoms.
Avoid Large Meals
IBS patients should eat around six small meals a day, instead of the regular large meals. Small meals can be eaten every two to three hours. Eating small meals can control meal stimulated increase in intestinal contractions that can cause pain and diarrhea.
Eating quickly increases the chance of swallowing air along with food. The air gets trapped in the stomach causing formation of intestinal gas that can worsen the pain in individuals suffering from IBS.
Chew Food Properly
Food should be chewed thoroughly as properly chewed food is easily digested. Undigested food starts fermenting in the intestine and can cause formation of gas and bloating that aggravates the condition.
Load Up On Water
Doctors recommend adults to drink of at least 8 glasses of water. Water helps maintain fluid balance and assists in digestion. Other fluids for instance juices, buttermilk, soups, low fat milk may also be consumed, but water must remain the mainstay. It must be noted that all liquids are not beneficial. Completely shun probable bowel irritants such as aerated drinks, synthetic drinks, caffeine and alcohol that can cause IBS.
Stay Away From Fatty Foods
Fat is the most difficult food item to digest. Hence doctors direct individuals suffering from IBS to avoid eating highly fatty foods. A low fat diet is highly recommended to manage the problem of IBS.
Steer Clear from Beans
All varieties of beans are known to produce gas in the stomach. It helps to avoid beans and other gas producing foods as they can worsen the condition.
Controlled Fiber Intake
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Patients must know which kind of fiber is good for them.
Vegetables and fruits and some other high fiber foods can pose problems for Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers who have chronic diarrhea as they consist of insoluble fiber that makes passing of stools easy. On the other hand if constipation is the principal symptom, a diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grain breads, cereals and other high fiber foods is recommended.
Fiber, especially the insoluble variety bulks up the stool and eases elimination, lessening IBS linked constipation. Foods high in soluble fiber absorb water and are helpful in controlling bouts of diarrhea.
In case of persistent constipation it is safe to take psyllium husk or other high fiber laxatives. Though regular laxative use should be avoided as it could create nutritional and vitamin deficiency leading to further complications.
Keep Away From Sugar Substitutes
Sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol and maltitol are all sugar substitutes used in a variety of foods. They are known to produce IBS symptoms. Avoid packaged and canned foods that might include any of these sugar substitutes.
Other Triggers to Avoid
Some people may suffer from intolerance to lactose found in dairy products. For others the condition can be exacerbated by fructose.
Identifying the root cause of the problem and managing what you eat is the best cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.