Worldwide, approximately 10-15 percent of the population suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to AboutIBS.org. In the US, 25-45 million people are affected by it. IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine, or colon. It can cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Unfortunately, the exact cause of IBS is unknown and there are currently no cures for it. However, it is treatable.
Medication is one way to treat IBS, but there are also natural remedies available that can be just as effective; here are a few!
- Get moving. Exercise can be a stress reliever, and anything that helps relieve stress can also help with bowel discomfort by stimulating regular intestinal contractions.
- Eat more fiber. Fiber helps ease some symptoms of IBS, including constipation, but, it can worsen other symptoms like cramping and gas. However, high-fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables and beans, are recommended to treat IBS if taken gradually over a period of several weeks. As an alternative to food, your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement, like Metamucil.
- Watch your wheat. According to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, eating products containing the ancient grain KAMUT® brand khorasan wheat significantly decreases IBS symptoms. And, it’s easy to swap KAMUT® wheat with modern wheat to still eat your favorite foods and create your favorite recipes.
- Skip the artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, like Splenda and Sweet ‘N Low, contain sorbitol and mannitol, which can have a laxative effect, so stay away from gum or candy that contain artificial sweeteners, and don’t add them to your morning coffee.
- Stay away from foods and drinks that could make your IBS worse, like broccoli, cauliflower, chocolate, fried foods, spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, soda and dairy products.
- Open your mind to alternative medicine. Acupuncture has proven effective at treating chronic pain, and small studies have shown that acupuncture may help with some IBS symptoms, such as abdominal bloating.
- Try oils and supplements. Oil, like evening primrose oil and fish oil can help calm the gut, and probiotic supplements restore the good balance of bacteria in the digestive system.
- Give up the cigs. Among the many, many reasons to not smoke cigarettes, is that nicotine contributes to IBS flare-ups, so QUIT!!
April is IBS Awareness Month and for more information about IBS – what it is, who it affects, how to treat it, and much more – check out sites like AboutIBS.org and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases site at NIDDK.NIH.gov.