4 Ways To Improve IBS Symptoms

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Do you suffer with IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS for short, impacts over 10% of Americans causing abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. The discomfort and disruptive nature of this condition can become quite an obstacle for some and can interfere with day to day life. Luckily, there are a number of ways to help address IBS and lessen the symptoms and flair ups. If you experience frequent abdominal pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea or possibly showing signs of nutritional deficiencies, speaking with your doctor can start you on a path to successful IBS relief.

Investigate Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been a very widely used diagnosis for a group of gastrointestinal symptoms. But, is it possible that perhaps this diagnosis could be incorrect in some cases? The answer is yes. SIBO tends to produce very similar symptoms to IBS and is possibly the root cause of IBS.

There is growing research and evidence to suggest that an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine may actually be the culprit. Due to improved methods and accessibility to a simple non-invasive test, it has shown that this condition is much more prevalent than previously thought. The good news? The treatment for SIBO has shown to be promising and quite effective.

A Temporary Low FODMAP Diet & Keep a Food Diary

It is recommended that you speak with your provider before embarking on this - but many have found this helpful when identifying what foods are causing a problem. There are bacteria galore in the gastrointestinal system and certain foods, specifically fermentable carbs, cause them to release a byproduct that can aggravate IBS symptoms. After eliminating high FODMAP foods from your diet for a designated period of time, if you don’t feel relief, then your doctor may explore other possibilities such as a proper fiber supplement, probiotics or assessing your vitamin D levels depending on your health nad history.  

If this elimination diet does bring relief, the next step is identifying which foods are triggers for you. Essentially you would individually introduce foods back into your diet, paying attention to whether you notice a correlation of returned symptoms. Keeping a food diary helps keep track of what you are eating and how you are feeling. The more information you can provide your doctor with the better!

So what foods are high FODMAP? Many breads (gluten), dairy products and high sugar fruits are on the list, but you may be surprised to learn that onions and garlic are big offenders and are in many recipes, prepared foods and condiments.   

Improve Your Eating Habits

How you eat can be just as important as what you eat. The main obstacle presented is a lack of time or feeling rushed. Another feeling sometimes experienced is that cooking or taking the time to sit for a quiet meal, the time for that, simply doesn’t seem as valuable as other tasks that need to get done. Feeling rushed or lack of food planning can lead to poor food choices, usually opting for faster more convenient options like takeout, drive through or prepackaged items.

However, if your tummy is giving you warning signs that something isn’t right, perhaps it is worth asking yourself:

How often do you eat standing up, in the car or while your working?

Do you scroll through your phone while your eating?

Do you have irregular meal times, skip meals, or tend to eat very heavy meals in the morning or at night?

So how can you make some easy changes to your eating habits? Eating smaller more frequent meals throughout the day may be less strain on your digestive system rather than one or two large meals. Avoid eating late at night and try to keep a regular schedule of when you eat. Make mealtimes sacred and allow yourself time to sit and enjoy the food, and most importantly to chew properly! Chewing is the first mechanical part of digestion that helps break down food for proper absorption. Rushed, distracted eating doesn’t usually allow for optimal chewing. Do you know how many times you should chew a piece of food before swallowing? 32!

Stress Relief and Relaxation Exercises

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can sometimes be brought on and exacerbated by stress. While you may not be able to prevent stressful situations, you do have the power to help your body and mind process stress better and to move into a calmer state. Deep breathing exercises and yoga are wonderful ways to reduce stress and all have a number of other positive health benefits as well.  

Acupuncture has also shown to have many positive benefits in improving digestive health, reducing IBS symptoms and reducing stress. Acupuncture, part of a larger system called Traditional Chinese Medicine, can play an important supportive role in improving many health conditions in a truly integrative approach to your care.

Are you ready to find relief from IBS or get tested for SIBO?

HealthBridge doctors in Great Neck, among the top doctors in New York, are ready to help you find relief from IBS. Learn more about the Platinum Concierge Membership.  

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