What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the medical term given to a series of unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine. According to the IBS network (1), it affects around a third of the population at some point in their lives and about one in ten people suffer symptoms severe enough to seek medical help.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown but it is usually linked to food sensitivities or overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
Symptoms include abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping, diarrhoea and / or constipation.
Top tips to support anyone suffering from IBS symptoms
1. Manage stress to reduce its impact on the gut
It is a challenge right now since we are all forced to stay at home. But planning the day can help. Stay organised with a relaxed timetable to help your family members cope with this unprecedented time. Feeling stressed can have an impact on the digestion and will cause discomfort at some point during the day. Breathing exercises are very helpful. Meditation Apps such as Calm or Headspace are great tools to help reduce stress and anxiety.
2. Eat calmly
Try to have set meals for your family. Encourage everyone to eat slowly and to chew properly in order to support the digestion. When food is eaten too fast, we can swallow air and that can cause cramps and indigestion.
3. Avoid fizzy and sweetened drinks as they aggravate IBS symptoms.
4. Get moving
Any physical activity will help with digestion. If your children spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, encourage physical activities daily, even indoors. Why not get them to jump around, to follow an exercise class online like P.E with Joe or do some stretching with simple yoga exercises? This online yoga for children is really fun.
5. Prevent it
If certain foods cause IBS symptoms to flare up, it is essential to avoid these foods. A diet that is low in FODMAPs (2) and insoluble fibre reduces the symptoms and improve the quality of life of IBS sufferers.
Help is available
Please note that the FODMAP diet is very restrictive and should not be followed for more than 4 to 6 weeks without the support from a healthcare professional. So, if someone in your family is suffering from IBS, consulting a Nutritional Therapist is recommended to identify a suitable diet that will provide all necessary nutrients. Too many people suffer in silence and try to cope. Don’t let this condition affect your life or the life of your family.
If you are concerned for yourself or for a family member and wish to discuss symptoms and ways to feel better, I am available for a free telephone consultation.