April Is IBS Awareness Month
April is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) awareness month. IBS is a very common chronic gastrointestinal disorder. Some people may suffer from symptoms continuously – and for some it may be intermittently. IBS can mildly or severely interfere with your lifestyle.
Typical symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, or alternating diarrhea and constipation. Most symptoms are usually relieved after a bowel movement.
Although there is no specific cause of IBS, factors that can contribute to IBS and cause symptoms include stress, eating habits, certain medications and other lifestyle factors.
There is no specific IBS diet that works for everyone. Different foods bother different people. Foods that commonly cause problems include: fatty foods, gas-producing foods, lactose, wheat, caffeine and alcohol.
To help reduce symptoms of IBS, it is important to follow a regular healthy eating pattern. General recommendations include:
- avoid over-eating
- limit fatty foods (e.g., high-fat meats and deli products, high-fat dairy products, deep fried foods, cookies, pastries, potato chips)
- eat small meals throughout the day
- increase fibre intake, as tolerated (for some, high-fiber foods cause comfort)
- limit gas-producing foods (these may include beans, onions, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, prunes, wheat)
- limit dairy products, if they cause your IBS symptoms (dairy products may cause fewer symptoms when eaten in small amounts or when eaten with other foods)
- keep a food and symptom diary to determine which foods cause you discomfort – and avoid or eat fewer of these foods
- drink plenty of fluids, limiting high sugar beverages, caffeine and alcohol (carbonated beverages may also cause bloating)
- eat in a relaxed atmosphere and chew slowly
- avoid swallowing a lot of air, which can cause bloating – avoid eating too quickly, chewing gum, drinking from a straw or bottle
- avoid eating too many products made with artificial sweeteners – they may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea