Tips for Alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms

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  • Do not eat foods or limit foods high in cheeses, fats and oils (especially pizza, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, cheeseburgers, potato and macaroni salads). These types of foods slow down the digestive transit and can trap fecal matter in the intestines as well as create gas pockets there, especially if you also have dairy sensitivities.
  • Drink copious volumes of water, especially in the hot months. Being well-hydrated moves digestive material more efficiently than juices, sodas and energy drinks. Plus, the regular hydration will curb constipation.
  • Consume small, frequent meals (4-6X per day) as opposed to large, infrequent meals (1-2X/day). Large meals and snacks inhibit transit of digestive materials. Do not eat on the run or under stressed or angry. Eat slowly.
  • Consume whole wheats and grains (unless you are gluten sensitive), fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit red meats and choose poultry or fish/seafood portions (if you are omnivorous) about the size of your fist. Eating organically is preferred as much as possible.
  • Give your body regular exercise, especially aerobic activity-the oxygen is good for relaxing your colon. As an extra bonus, regular exercise reduces stress hormone levels. Make sure to give yourself sufficient time after a meal for vigorous activity-IBS can flare up if food is not digested properly.
  • If you are a premenopausal woman, your IBS symptoms could be amplified before or during your menstrual cycle. Take extra care of your eating, resting/sleeping habits around these times of the month.
  • Make sure to decompress and destress each and every day. A hyped-up and ramped-up nervous system can either bring on sudden diarrhea or constipation due to high levels of cortisol and epinephrine. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones messes up regular bowel movements.
  • If you work at a high-level stress job/career or live in a high-stress environment, you may want to consider changing jobs and/or living situations. Chronic exposure to high levels of stress not only brings on frequent or chronic IBS attacks, but also wreaks havoc on other aspects of your health. You may be more prone to heart disease, stroke and nervous disorders. If you are a highly sensitive person (HSP) and an introvert like I am, you will be more vulnerable to stressful situations, so make sure to rest sufficiently and limit your exposure to stressors.
  • Make sure to have regular check-ups with a gastroenterologist if your symptoms change drastically or worsen over time.

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