Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Ways to Manage it Effectively
Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Ways to Manage it Effectively
You know when you have got it!
It often strikes mid-training. Starting with a bit of tummy discomfort then it hits. You need to go, NOW. It doesn’t matter where you are. And, watch out anyone who gets in your way.
For others, it’s multiple trips to the toilet post workout. Mucous ridden stools, diarrhea, add nausea, severe bloating and gas. All unwanted consequences of the dedicated focus and training.
It’s something athletes, and serious gym goers have accepted as part of their sport and passion. As a result, they suffer in silence. Having to put up with the consequences of a gruelling regime to get the results desired.
But it also affects a large portion of the general public. Everyday people. Conscientious with their health and wellbeing. They may be struggling with chronic gut issues for numerous reasons: – medications, restrictive dieting, eating disorders, genetics, or just plain rotten luck. Doing all the right things. Exercising regularly and being mindful of what they put into their bodies. But, still find they are experiencing the debilitating symptoms of bloating, gas, nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation.
FACTS on Irritable Bowel Syndrome
1 in 5 people suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)(Health Direct 2018). It’s a common problem, but not often talked about in gyms, work or the dinner table!
What puts you at higher risk:
- Being a woman – twice as many women as men have the condition.
- Age – IBS can affect people of all ages, but it’s more likely in people under 50.
- Family history – the condition seems to run in families.
So, let’s get down and dirty to understand IBS better, learn a few easy ways to deal with the symptoms and get some control back in your life and training.
What is IBS?
IBS is known as a functional disorder. This means there is an issue with the way the bowel functions, despite having normal looking cells and no underlying structural abnormalities. Depending on the symptoms present, it can be subdivided into the following (Medscape, 2018):
- IBS-C Tendency towards constipation
- IBS-D Tendency towards diarrhoea
- IBS- M Mixed constipation and diarrhoea.
Despite the category a person falls into, they might also experience:
- Abdominal cramping, bloating or pain. This is often partially relieved by passing a bowel motion.
- Excess gas/flatus
- Feeling like you haven’t finished a bowel movement
- Mucous in the stool
- Discomfort in the upper stomach area or nauseous after eating a regular size meal.
- Women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods.
A diagnosis of IBS can be given if there is at least a 12-week (doesn’t have to be consecutive weeks) history in the past six months of discomfort or abdominal pain associated with at least two of the following:
- Change in stool frequency and/or
- Change in stool form or appearance and/or
- Pain is relieved by defecation.
(Medscape, 2018) Rome IV criteria (May 2016)
To make a diagnosis of IBS, doctors must first rule out any ‘sinister causes’ via a series of blood tests and stool samples. And, in some cases, a colonoscopy is required. They will also do a physical examination (which is usually normal) and take a thorough medication and family history.
It is a diagnosis of matching symptoms and the elimination of the sinister causes via the tests. This often takes time and some visits. It can definitely add to frustration levels.
You can have IBS at any age, but most symptoms present between the ages of 20 and 30 years of age. It’s a chronic condition. Meaning the symptoms need to be managed in the long term.
Although IBS affects the colon or large bowel, it doesn’t damage the bowel or lead to other problems. Other than shame and humiliation if you are in public when it strikes. IBS is not ‘Inflammatory Bowel Disease’ which includes Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. It doesn’t increase your risk of Colorectal Cancer.
It can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation. If not managed, it can control many aspects of your life – emotional, social and professional.
IBS is unpredictable. The symptoms vary and are sometimes contradictory. Leading to confusion, anxiety and feelings of not being believed or taken seriously by health care professionals. But it is real, and there are ways to manage it.
Causes of IBS
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. A few plausible explanations are:
- a disturbance in the brain-gut interactions
- bacterial overgrowth
- intestinal inflammation.
Stress doesn’t cause IBS. However, stress can worsen or trigger symptoms. Other triggers include poor diet, illness, alcohol consumption and smoking.
14 Practical Tips to Alleviate the Symptoms of IBS
Gut Health Support
- Gut performance™ daily promotes health and optimal gut function by healing, normalising and fortifying the protective lining of your digestive tract. It also contains prebiotics to help your naturally occurring microbiome to flourish.
- Probiotics supplement the beneficial bacteria in the gut to restore balance. A few ways they have been found to improve symptoms are by:
- Inhibiting the growth of disease-causing bacteria
- Helping fight inflammation and increase time between inflammatory flare-ups.
- Reducing gas production by balancing the gut flora
Probiotics can be found in supplement form or naturally occurring in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and other fermented foods.
NOTE: Not all probiotics are the same. Make sure you choose one that is researched well and proven to relieve the symptoms that are troubling you (Irritablebowelsyndrome.net, 2018).
3. Do not miss breakfast.
4. Have regular, predictable meals and chew each mouthful slowly. Avoid skipping meals or going for long periods without food.
5. Avoid greasy and processed foods
6. Decrease alcohol intake. It often contains gluten or high levels of sugar that irritate the gut.
7. Maximise your water intake to 2 litres a day. Adequate hydration is key to gut and overall health.
8. If you have constipation – have at least 30 grams of fibre daily – Gut Performance™ is the perfect addition to help you get adequate fibre in your diet.
9. If you have diarrhoea – you should restrict your fibre intake. This allows for one scoop of Gut Performance™ daily. One scoop throughout the day with yoghurt or smoothies often improves symptoms dramatically. But having 2 scoops in an attempt to cut short the process of healing will often lead to you feeling worse.
10. Keep a food diary. Knowing your triggers can help you make good dietary decisions in the long term.
11. If bloating is an issue avoid food and drinks with:
- High sorbitol content such as diet soft drinks, sugar-free gum and lollies.
- Raffinose-containing foods like pulses, cabbage, brussel sprouts and brassica vegetables like broccoli may help (Leach 2018)
12. If you continue to have problems, consider a comprehensive restricted carbohydrate diet known as the low FODMAP diet (RACGP 2012). It is a nutritionally balanced diet that is low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. For more information on this diet, visit the website of the creators of the diet at Monash University. By the way, Gut Performance™ is FODMAP friendly.
NOTE: If simple dietary restrictions are not helpful, consider contacting a dietician who can implement a structured plan, and monitor your symptoms and progress.
13. Yoga – including postures, breathing and meditation. It has been found useful to deal with the lifestyle triggers of IBS (stress) and relieving the pain.
14. Mindfulness helps you deal with stress in everyday life as well as your reactions to pain and anxiety.
Let us know via our Gut Performance™ Instagram page if you have tried Gut Performance™ or a combination of these tips to get relief from your IBS.
How does Gut Performance™ help IBS?
By Dr Malcolm Ball – Chief Scientific Officer
- While IBS is a collection of several problems and the causes are not well understood there are several things that are known to help alleviate symptoms.
- IBS is most likely caused by dysbiosis of the gut microflora and/or inflammation
- There are also indications that food intolerances (for example gluten and FODMAPS) play a key role.
- One of the main issues with IBS is that the things that will help in the long run can cause problems in the short term. Because of this people are often told things like “don’t eat insoluble fibre”. There is therefore no simple straight forward solution to this problem for everybody.
What makes Gut Performance™ unique?
- Gut Performance™ is a collection of active, natural, high fibre, high micronutrient, low sugar ingredients.
- The pH of Gut Performance™ is kept at a level that is gentle to the stomach using natural citric acid and bicarbonate (the active ingredients in antacids such as ENO). The pH has been selected as to not interfere with people that have low stomach acid, while reducing the acid level of people with high stomach acid (both conditions can contribute to reflux and IBS).
- It is high in soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch. All three of these are needed for good gut health and are recommended by Monash University to manage IBS (https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/ibs-constipation/).
- Gut Performance™ is a low FODMAP food. FODMAPS are known to be major contributors to many types of IBS.
- Gut Performance™ is gluten and allergen free.
- While sugar (sucrose from sugarcane) is known to cause a lot of health problems, sugarcane itself (and fresh whole sugarcane juice) are known to be healthy and has been used as a medicine in Asia for thousands of years. The fibre and antioxidant components of sugarcane have been shown in several scientific papers to have benefit to bowel health in general and inflammation of the gut in particular.
- The red sorghum used in Gut Performance™ is also gluten free and low FODMAP. The resistant starch found in this ancient grain has been shown to have several benefits to intestinal health and anti-inflammatory activity
- Gut Performance™ uses whole beetroot powder, not dried juice which contains the fibre of the vegetable and reduces the sugar. This ensures that Gut Performance™ as a whole is low FODMAP (even though beetroot juice is high FODMAP). Beetroot is well known for its intestinal health benefits.
- The ingredients in Gut Performance™ have been shown in many scientific and clinical trials to reduce gut inflammation and increase bowel health and function.
Work Cited & Bibliography
Gastroenterological Society of Australia, 2006. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Sydney, viewed 5 February 2019, http://cart.gesa.org.au/membes/files/Clinical%20Guidelines%20and%20Updates/IBS_2nd_Edition.pdf.
HealthDirect, 2018. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, viewed 5 February 2019, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs
Irritablebowelsyndrome.net, 2018. The low down on probiotics and IBS. Health Union LLC, viewed 5 February 2019, https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/clinical/low-down-probiotics-ibs
Leach, M, 2018, Conditions, Sydney, viewed 5 February 2019, https://www.drmargaretleach.com.au/conditions.html
Medscape, 2018. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, WebMD LLC, viewed 5 February 2019, https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/180389-overview
Monash University, 2018 The Low FODMAP Diet, Melbourne, viewed 5 February 2019, https://www.monashfodmap.com
Monash University, How to manage IBS (https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/ibs-constipation/)
RACGP, 2012, Low FODMAP diets for irritable bowel syndrome, Australia, viewed 5 February 2019, https://www.racgp.org.au/clinical-resources/clinical-guidelines/handbook-of-non-drug-interventions-(handi)/nutrition/low-fodmap-diets-for-irritable-bowel-syndrome