Hey Everyone! I’m so glad to see you back for our third episode of Relief TV. Last week, we talked about what causes IBS. Although we don’t have any conclusive evidence supporting the exact mechanism that causes IBS, we’ve outlined some potential contributors in this episode.
This week I’m joining you to talk about some ways that you can treat your IBS symptoms naturally. IBS is complex and varies greatly person-to-person, but there are a few inexpensive ways you can soothe your stomach, and I’d love to share them with you!
How to Improve IBS without Medication
1. Fibre & IBS
The topic of fibre can be complicated in terms of IBS. Some people find the addition of fibre really improves their symptoms, while others find it can make them worse.
There are two kinds of fibre – soluble and insoluble. For those of us with digestive issues, soluble fibre is the most beneficial kind and the best choice in helping reduce symptoms. You can find soluble fibre in many foods, particularly in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. If your not sure if more or less fibre will help your symptoms, before cutting it out, we recommend working with an expert registered dietitian, experienced in digestive health. To learn more about fibre and get a list of good sources for digestive health, read the article What’s All the Fuss About Fibre?
2. Fluid & IBS
Something that I always stress to my clients is that if you’re not getting enough fluid, then you CAN NOT expect your digestive system to work properly!
You need enough fluid to bathe the cells in your gut as well as the food you eat so it can smoothly pass through your body. Imagine trying to push a piece of dry sponge through a straw; it wouldn’t work so well would it? Think of the sponge as your food and the straw as your gut – you need a nice, lubricated environment to digest and pass your food easily.
Water isn’t the only liquid that counts; fluid can also include tea, coffee, juice (I recommend 100% of course) and any other liquid you consume in a day (like soup). A good place for most individuals to start is by getting at least 2 litres of fluid. For many, you may need closer to 2.5 or 3 L. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to examine your specific needs. For some easy ways to get enough fluid, read our article on teas to find out which teas are the right choice for your tummy!
3. Avoid IBS Triggers
It’s important to know that foods don’t cause IBS. However, if you have IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis or another digestive issue you may have noticed that you experience digestive distress when you eat certain foods. Although foods don’t CAUSE IBS, they can definitely trigger symptoms.
Most people find that there are some foods that they don’t tolerate as well as others because these foods trigger symptoms like gas, bloating, discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation. To figure out exactly which foods are your bodies triggers, we recommend following an elimination diet. You should absolutely do this along with the help of a registered dietitian, someone who is an expert in this area, to ensure you are eating well for healing and to help you include as many foods as possible in your diet, while avoiding potential triggers.
We talk a lot about the low FODMAP diet on this website, which is an evidence-based elimination diet shown to help over 75% of people significantly improve symptoms of IBS. Learn more about this diet and how to follow it well to effectively reduce digestive symptoms of IBS or IBD with this free guide:
4. Stress & IBS
Lastly, stress is a really important issue in digestive health that needs to be addressed. Stress, anxiety, and worry can make IBS symptoms worse. When you experience stress, your body re-directs blood away from digestive system and moves it towards the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles. This means less nutrients and energy are supplied to your intestines, reducing how well they function. Read More about Stress and it’s effect on Digestion.
To help alleviate stress, incorporate some mind-body strategies into your life. This could mean breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, exercise or even working with a mental health expert. Exercise can be particularly helpful in relieving stress – it releases endorphins which can improve mood and reduce IBS symptoms. Take a look at the Top 4 Tips for Exercising with IBS Here.
Wishing you good gut health & wellness,
Stephanie and the Team