Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects 3 to 20 percent of the population, more women than men. Strong evidence claims that IBS is not a disease process, such as colitis or Crohn's, and it does not increase the risk of colon cancer. More likely, it is a collection of symptoms triggered by a variety of issues. These symptoms include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Cramps or abdominal pain
- Possible mucous in the stool
Depending on the severity of symptoms, you can combat IBS without prescription medication. Try the following tips first for coping with IBS. As with any medical condition, you should see a doctor if your symptoms worsen.
1. Practice food snobbery and be choosy about what you eat
- Ditch the processed meats, like hot dogs or sausage.
- Avoid foods that can cause gas, including cauliflower, brussels sprouts or baked beans.
- Avoid white flour and sugars, caffeine, alcohol and fried foods.
- Add whole foods (quinoa), healthy fats (avocados) and complex carbohydrates (steamed veggies) to your diet.
- Add a dose of probiotics to your regimen to encourage healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Keep a food log in your diary and record what you eat and when you have symptoms.
2. Tame your tension
The brain and gut's nervous system are intertwined through hormone and biochemical channels. Negative thoughts will affect your digestion.
- Take time out for yourself, like a short walk outside of the office. Find a quiet spot overlooking the park or a river bank to visit when you feel stressed.
- Add a yoga class to your weekly regimen. Yoga is a proven stress reducer.
- Take slow deep breaths, engaging your abdominal muscles, several times a day.
3. Give natural herbs a try
- Ginger is a proven anti-inflammatory and prevents nausea. Drink it as a tea or add shredded ginger to marinades (for salmon or chicken). You should also try sweetened or pickled ginger.
- Take enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules. Peppermint oil inhibits colon contractions and spasms. It also relieves gas. You'll feel milder effects in peppermint tea. Also try chamomile or lemon balm tea to soothe a stomach.
4. Try acupuncture
- As an alternative medicine, acupuncture can relieve symptoms of stress and IBS.
5. Take a walk on the wild side
- Go to a Zumba or belly dancing class, or take regular walks. The more you move, the better your bowels will. Exercise will also do wonders to relieve tension, stress and keep your weight manageable.
If your symptoms are getting worse and nothing seems to help, visit your Atlanta physician in order to get a proper diagnosis of your pain.