TUMMY TROUBLESDon’t talk with your mouth full and keep a diary… experts reveal top 10 tips to beat IBS
Dealing with the excess wind or constipation from IBS? These tips could help ease your suffering
LET’S face it, tummy troubles are a more than just a little bit awkward.
From constipation to diarrhoea and gas, no one likes talking about the uncomfortable feeling that can have you running to the bathroom every time you eat.
IBS affects twice as many women as men and can last for months at a time
Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can can to manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The condition affects as many as one in five people in the UK and can last for months at a time.
It usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age and it affects twice as many women compared to men.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts think that it’s related to increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food.
Those experiencing IBS may have stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, excess wind and a feeling they have not properly emptied their bowel.
As April marks IBS awareness month, some experts have pooled together their best tips and tricks to managing the condition.
1. Write it down
Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar and a leading nutritionist, said: “You may discover that there are certain foods that trigger the symptoms or it could be the time of day which makes them worse, for instance when you are tired or you may find your symptoms are linked to regularly stressful aspects of your week.”
IBS can cause excess gas and bloating, diarrhoea and constipation
2. Make time in the morning
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns says making sure you have enough time in the morning to have a proper breakfast can help.
She said: “Rather than having to rush around in the morning, make sure you have plenty of time to have a proper breakfast and go to the toilet before you head off to work.
“By starting your day in a calmer fashion, it can help you feel more relaxed too.”
3. Watch out for wheat and dairy
If you want to experiment by cutting out certain groups of foods make sure you stick with it for two weeks to really be sure of the effects of the foods.
Dr Glenville added: “Try excluding wheat and dairy foods for two weeks as these have been shown to be the biggest culprits in triggering IBS symptoms.”
Wheat can exacerbate the problem as it is more difficult to digest
4. Resistant starch could also cause a problem
Dr Glenville continued: “Certain foods contain something called resistant starch which means that they resist digestion.
“This in turn, can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort, flatulence, trapped wind and diarrhea.
“These foods include beans such as lentils, soya and chickpeas.”
5. Put down your coffee
Bad news for those who simply cannot function without a hot cup of coffee in the morning – coffee can make IBS worse.
Shona Wilkinson, a nutritionist for SuperfoodUK.com, said: “Instead of having a coffee, try a ginger tea as this has a number of benefits for IBS in that it can help to prevent indigestion, gas and bloating.
“Ginger also acts as an anti-spasmodic and it relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract.
“It is also known to reduce anxiety, which for some people can worsen gastrointestinal symptoms.”
Coffee can also worsen the symptoms, so experts recommend ginger tea instead
6. Don’t talk with your mouth full
Seems strange, but talking with your mouth full can lead to excess burping.
Dr Gelnville said: “Don’t talk with your mouth full, as in doing so you can gulp mouthfuls of air and this can cause excess belching.
“Chew well, chewing is the first part of digestion and can reduce foods fermenting lower down in the digestive tract.”
7. Don’t eat when you’re stressed
Shona Wilkinson explained: “Never eat when you are stressed, feeling emotional or in a rush.
“Take time to sit down at the table and eat slowly and calmly.
“Try to avoid eating with others and being over-talkative.
“By focusing on conversation rather than the eating, this may interfere with the digestive process.
“It’s also important to chew properly, at least 30 times each mouthful.”
8. Take Vitamin B6
Cassandra Barns recommends a vitamin B6 supplement to ease symptoms.
She said: “A multivitamin and mineral supplement should be the foundation of a supplement programme and should contain good levels of the B vitamins including vitamin B6.
“This is an important vitamin for IBS as low levels of this nutrient have been associated with the condition.”
She recommends Quest Vitamins Equigluco from qnutrapharma.com
Vitamin supplements such as magnesium and vitamin B6 can ease digestion problems
9. Take Magnesium
She also recommended a magnesium supplement, adding: “Magnesium is an important mineral for helping with IBS because it helps to relax the muscles in the bowel and help prevent cramping and spasms. It is particularly helpful for IBS if the main symptom is constipation rather than diarrhoea.”
KalmAssure Magnesium Powder by Nature’s Plus could help.
10. Probiotics will help
“Probiotics are a hot topic of the digestive health world, including IBS.
“Research has been mounting over the years to suggest that probiotics can be extremely beneficial in helping with IBS, and helps to promote general gut health,” Barns said.
You could try Pro-Ven Adult Probiotic 25 Billion, available in Boots.