“Trust your gut” may sound like wishful thinking if you live with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an ongoing health condition that causes pain, constipation, diarrhea and/or gas. But your doctor can work with you to create a plan to relieve your symptoms and help you trust your gut again.
IBS is a disorder of the brain-gut interaction. It’s a complex medical condition that involves both your physical health and mental health.
Physical symptoms of IBS can vary in severity and may include abdominal pain, cramping or bloating that is related to passing a bowel movement, or changes in appearance of bowel movement, or changes in how often you are having a bowel movement.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. Digestion abnormalities, nerve hypersensitivity, the immune system and your genetics may all be potential causes. Since IBS is a disorder of the brain-gut interaction, it’s often associated with mental health conditions, especially depression and/or anxiety.
The best treatment plans for IBS are those that target both your physical health and your mental health. IBS can be different for each person—some may have more problems with constipation while others may have diarrhea—and require distinct types of treatment.
IBS treatment can include:
- Regular, mild physical exercise has been proven to increase gas clearance, reduce bloating and relieve constipation. Yoga is a mind and body exercise that can help soothe the mental stress associated with IBS, as well as provide the benefits of physical exercise.
- Dietary Counseling and Interventions
- Changing your Diet
What foods are disturbing your gut most?
To find out, try a diet like the low FODMaP diet or the Modified Low FODMaP Diet, the MedDiet (Mediterranean Diet), or a combination of the two.
About 75% of people with IBS who tried a low FODMaP diet experienced relief from their IBS symptoms.
The MedDiet has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties and increases the abundance of bacterial species in the intestine that are beneficial. Recently, the beneficial effects of supplementing the Low FODMaP diet with either dietary fiber or probiotics has been reported, limiting constipation and gut microbiome imbalance.
What is the FODMaP diet?
The FODMaP diet is a form of elimination diet that focuses specifically on foods that contain specific types of fermentable sugars. It is low in sugars that can be difficult to absorb. These sugars can lead to increased fermentation and gas. Reducing overall sugar intake reduces the osmotic pull of fluids into the intestine, which can reduce diarrhea.
If your treatment plan isn’t working, don’t lose hope. We can work with you to adjust or tweak your plan as needed. It may take a few tries to find the best plan for you.