IBS is something that affects around 1 in 10 people in the UK and is something that many people suffer with unknowingly!
But what is IBS and What are the Symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS is a medical disorder that effects purely how the gut works and its main function. This means it’s a functional condition and there isn’t actually a problem with the structure of your gut – just the way it works.
IBS can affect ANYONE and its symptoms can seem pretty common including:
- Bloating & cramping.
- On and Off tummy pains.
- Mood swings and fatigue.
And these symptoms are not to be ignored and can also occur when more serious conditions exist, such as coeliac disease.
How Can I Find Out If I Have IBS?
If you’re suffering from the above symptoms on a very regular basis and are seeing changes and irregularities in bowel movements then you need to see you GP. Seeing the GP will rule out IBS and more serious conditions such as Crohn’s and coeliac diseases. There are no direct tests for IBS – its more how your gut reacts to specific food groups. But by seeing your doctor, blood tests and stool samples can rule out Crohn’s and coeliac disease.
What Can Cause Irritable bowel syndrome?
IBS can be caused by several factors including:
Some people say that our real brain lies within our gut – where we produce serotonin believe it or not! That being said, the nerve connection between our brain and our gut is a big one which makes stress is a BIG cause of ibs. For example, have you ever been nervous or excited for an event and had to dash to the loo? This happens in a LOT of runners before a race trust me! Many people believe IBS is down to food alone but stress can greatly affect our digestion and bloating.
Eating in certain ways and not regularly can affect IBS as well as specific food groups including dairy.
The first thing you should start doing is logging a food diary along with when you suffer from any ibs symptoms. This should help you be able to see if there are certain food groups and supplements that are contributing.
Other foods & drinks that can affect IBS are fizzy drinks, coffee, fatty foods and dairy.
Many people also find if you tend to eat very little in the day and have large time periods between meals there is also an increase in IBS symptoms.
Certain types of medications can cause ibs symptoms and flare ups.
How Can I Treat & Get Rid of IBS?
There are some drugs you can take to help manage IBS but in reality it’s a lifestyle change and paying more attention to your body and its needs.
Mindfulness, destressing and meditation is enough for some people to calm down their gut but for others a full diet makeover and restructure is required. Here are some simple steps to help:
Increase your friendly bacteria and record your ibs
As mentioned above, try and record every ibs episode along with what foods you have eaten. This should give a good indication of specific times and food groups that may be contributing to your IBS. The next step is to try and promote some friendly bacteria down in your gut to help fight your IBS. This could include taking a probiotic or consuming a pre biotic like inulin – but for the simplest probiotic natural yogurt could be an easy answer!
Stay Clear of caffeine and fizzy drinks
Oh yes this one is a toughy but if you’re a diet coke or coffee addict it’s something you should be cutting down on anyway! Both of these drinks promote an acidic environment in the body which is not good for our gut, digestion or bones! Caffeine can also stimulate bowl movements by causing food to move through the gut at a fast rate, leading to looser stools and diarrhoea.
Monitor how you feel after white bread, rice & pasta
Not all carbs are bad for you but if you’re suffering, sometimes flour that is refined and processed can leave us battling with IBS. This is because the vitamins, minerals and fibre gets removed in processing which leads to these carbohydrates taking longer to pass through the gut.
Avoid Processed & Fatty Foods
I mean, these foods we should consume in moderation anyway, but if you follow the “if it fits your macros” way of living then consuming foods that are high in fat or processed could be promoting symptoms of your IBS. Processed foods are often soft and easy to eat on the go but have all the fibre, vitamins and minerals stripped!
A Personal Story
When looking to lose weight for summer I began training twice a day, at an intense level. I would often train in the morning and swap breakfast with a coffee. Lunch and snacks would be anything I could find with protein in. This would mean opting for multiple protein shakes, bars and yet more coffee and fizzy drinks. I’d then finish the day with more training where I would eat a large meal 8-9pm at night and then hit the hay. I would sleep for around 5 hours.
By consuming a lot of protein powder with little vegetables and carbohydrates, and then drinking a lot of coffee and fizzy drinks I was promoting an unhealthy gut and a very acidic environment. I would then be adding additional stress by over exercising and eating irregularly and larger meals just before bed. This combined with very little sleep caused me to have constant IBS flare ups.
To eliminate my ibs symptoms I cut my training down to one session in the morning. This was then followed by a healthy breakfast of carbs and protein. During the day I would drink no fizzy drinks or sugar free juice and would drink plenty of water. My coffee consumption would be 2 cups of coffee max. For lunch I would have a balanced meal and for a snack during the day would have an IdealLean shake. At night time I would keep my portions smaller, aiming to eat before 8pm to get a better night sleep of 8 hours.
So girls your not alone and don’t be afraid to talk about your IBS!