IBS is believed to affect 1 in 5 of us at some point during our lives, leaving many with painful symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, digestive difficulties and more. Therefore we’ve rounded up 10 expert tips to help manage the condition and how you can improve your gut health.
1. Keep a food diary
“By keeping a food diary 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,” explains Dr. Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com), author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.
2. Strengthen your mucus lining
As well as looking after the bacteria in our gut it is also important that we strengthen our mucus lining, which is one of the most important tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Dr Nigel Plummer, creator of ProVen Probiotics explains, “Our intestine is connected to almost all other parts of our body by way of nerve or chemical signals, and the billions of bacteria we have lining our gut seem to be able to change the signal process. If the right signals are sent, then we see health benefits such as lowered infections and better mood. That’s why we call these probiotic bacteria ‘friendly’ – because they send the right signals”.
“When we’re feeling stressed, digestion is not our body’s main priority, and so our brain doesn’t send the right ‘digest’ signals that trigger release of digestive juices and other helpful substances. It’s therefore important to manage our overall stress levels, whether it’s taking some time out from work or using practices such as meditation. And whilst working from home, don’t eat on the sofa – get away into a more calming environment,” explains Cassandra.
4. Snack on oats
To help regulate your digestion between meals, nutritionist Cassandra Barns recommends snacking on Nairn’s Gluten-Free Superseeded Oatcakes (£1.80) as an alternative to regular wheat-based snacks: “Oats provide gentle fibre, which not only helps us stay regular, but also ‘feeds’ the friendly bacteria in the gut. These bacteria then make a substance called butyrate, which helps keep the lining of our gut healthy.”
5. Chew properly
“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,” says Marilyn.
6. Cut out coffee
Coffee stimulates peristalsis the wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract. So with IBS, coffee should be avoided in order to reduce these contractions.
7. Calm your anxiety before bed
Stress, sleep and the digestive system are closely related, if we do not get enough sleep we find it harder to function and when we are stressed we find it harder to get to sleep. If you’re a late night thinker it can be extremely difficult to break this cycle.
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