by Antonella Riva

Welcome to the world of irritable bowel syndrome. Abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort, constipation, and diarrhea are uncomfortable symptoms being typical of IBS.

IBS is functional disorder that affects the large intestine, caused by changes in how the gastrointestinal tract works. It is a chronic condition that you need to manage long term.

IBS is the most frequently diagnosed digestive disorder in the United States, it is more common in women, lower socioeconomic groups, and patients under age 45; having a family member with IBS could increase the risk and anxiety, depression, and personality disorder may be a risk factor as well.

Because it's not clear what causes irritable bowel syndrome, treatment focuses on the relief of the symptoms.

You can successfully control them by managing stress and making changes in your diet and lifestyle

Traditional dietary recommendations for IBS patients are: 

  • Avoid high-gas food (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and beans), alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, such sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol.
  • Avoid chewing gum or drinking liquids through a straw, because they can lead to swallowing air  causing more gas;  carbonated beverage have to be minimized too.
  • Limit consumption of high fat food.
  • Minimize consumption of foods high in lactose, especially if lactose intolerance is suspected. You could try substituting them with lactose free products, hard cheese, and low lactose yogurt and kefir, which may be better tolerated. An enzyme product can help break down lactose too.
  • Drink adequate amounts of fluids to help constipation. Water is the best.
  • Eat at regular times, helping to regulate bowel function.

In addition, research shows that some people report improvement if they stop eating gluten.It's been suggested too, if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria and that adding probiotics in your diet may be helpful. 

Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation can all be useful ways to relieve stress. You could try counseling, deep breathing, and mindfulness training. Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for any activity you find relaxing, as listening music, reading or just soaking in a warm bath.