ANYONE who has irritable bowel syndrome will tell you the symptoms are uncomfortable and often embarrassing.
From bloating and stomach cramps to constipation and diarrhoea, the condition can wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Getty – Contributor IBS can cause painful cramps and bloating
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects about 25 per cent of people in the UK and is more common in women than men.
It can be agonising, causing frequent tummy discomfort, bloating, constipation as well as bouts of diarrhoea.
Most people have flare-ups of symptoms that last a few days but after this time, the symptoms usually improve, according to the NHS.
But they may not disappear completely.
Getty – Contributor Chewing slowly helps prepare your digestive system for your intake of food
In some people an attack can be triggered by something they have eaten or drunk, so the symptoms can be controlled by diet.
Here’s 10 tips to manage your IBS from nutritionist Suzie Sawyer.
1. Chew slowly
Eating your food slowly gives your body time to prepare for digesting, which can ease your uncomfortable symptoms.
“It may sound simple but the improvements to your digestion can be amazing,” Suzie said.
“By eating slower and chewing well, the body has time to release the necessary enzymes and hormones to aid digestion.”
Getty – Contributor Oats and other fibrous foods can help keep your digestive system clear
2. Eat oats
Oats and other sources of fibre are known to keep your digestive system healthy.
“Soluble fibre in oats, fruits and vegetables, and rye act like a broom, sweeping out the digestive tract,” explained Suzie.
“However, it’s always best to avoid wheat bran which can be irritating and may cause more bloating.”
Getty – Contributor A food diary can help you work out which foods cause bad reactions
3. Write it down
A food diary is a great way to keep track of which foods may cause upset in your digestive system.
“Symptoms caused by food sensitivities or environmental issues are not always instant,” Suzie said.
KNOW THE SIGNS Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects millions but it’s often dismissed as period pain – here’s how to spot the signs of IBS
“Plus they can vary with different food combinations.
“Keeping a daily diary of what you eat and noting reactions can be really useful in the first instance.”
Getty – Contributor Coffee can irritate your digestive system, so it is best to avoid it
4. Say goodbye to coffee
Sorry morning caffeine addicts, you coffee is not doing you any good.
“Any caffeinated drinks can cause digestive problems but coffee is even more irritating,” Suzie said.
“Plus it can sometimes act as a laxative.
“Try drinking dandelion coffee instead – it’s delicious.”
Getty – Contributor Taking a break at work to manage your stress levels is one way you can control your IBS
5. Manage stress
Your stress levels can play a vital role in how your digestive system operates.
“There is a massive connection between the gut and brain,” Suzie explained.
“For many people affected by IBS, stress can make matters worse.
“Getting away from the desk at lunchtime can really help to take stress levels down, just as one example.”
Getty – Contributor Turmeric can help soothe your gut
6. Try turmeric
Turmeric has been linked to a range of health benefits including boosting your heart health and easing arthritis.
One woman even claims taking turmeric “cured” her cancer after five years of chemo failed.
And the spice can even ease IBS.
“When you’ve got an irritated digestive tract, this wonderful spice can be really soothing helping to relieve gas and bloating,” Suzie said.
THE KEY IBS SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR
The most common signs a person suffering IBS can experience are:
stomach pain and cramping, which may be relieved by having a poo a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both bloating and swelling of your stomach excessive wind occasionally experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet passing mucus from your bottom
IBS can also lead to other complications such as a lack of energy, feeling sick or nauseous, pain during sex and social anxiety and depression.
The exact cause of IBS is not known, but many experts believe it is related to an increased sensitivity of the gut.
7. Know your sensitivities
One of the best ways to avoid an IBS flare-up is to know which foods upset your digestive system.
“It’s well worth having your food intake analysed by a qualified nutritionist,” Suzie added.
“Undetected food intolerances or allergies can play havoc.
“A nutritionist can also advise on elimination diets if appropriate.”
Getty – Contributor Flax seeds are another form of fibre that can aid digestion
8. Add flax seeds
Flax seeds can be added to lots of different foods from salads to porridge.
“Flaxseeds provide gentle soluble fibre which helps keep everything moving smoothly through the digestive tract,” Suzie explained.
“Plus they’re high in omega-3 fats which help soothe and protect the digestive lining from further irritations.”
Getty – Contributor Probiotics are a good option to look after your guy health
9. Take probiotics
Probiotics are good for the lining of our digestive system.
“A probiotic supplement will help replenish the essential friendly bacteria in your digestive tract, thereby reducing bloating and avoiding constipation,” Suzie said.
“Look for a supplement containing acidophilus and bifidobacterium.”