Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal disease, affecting 11% of adults worldwide. If you have IBS, you know how it feels: the persistent cramps in your stomach, the sudden need to rush out and do your business, the anxiety that no matter what treatment you try, little to nothing may help. So how can you manage IBS flare ups?
Although IBS is not a deadly disease, it doesn’t make it any less important to treat. Having IBS can hurt a patient’s physical well-being, involve substantial costs, and debilitate one’s mental health. Unfortunately, there remains no cure for IBS. However, working with your medical provider, you can adopt lifestyle and dietary strategies to help you better manage your IBS flare ups.
Some recommended changes may involve limiting foods, such as certain types of fiber-rich foods that can prove difficult for IBS patients to comfortably digest — even though such foods would otherwise provide significant health benefits. To help alleviate this issue, a new dietary supplement is available, called Eden’s, which contains a digestively well-tolerated synbiotic blend of five carefully selected prebiotics, four probiotics and five polyphenols.
3-in-1 Synbiotic Superblend
What is IBS?
For those unfamiliar with the term, IBS is a symptom-defined disease, which means that while the severity of the symptoms can differ, most IBS patients experience a common set of symptoms. Defined under what is called the Rome criteria, these symptoms include the following:
- Recurrent stomach pain for at least one day per week in the last three months
- Relief from abdominal pain with defecation
- Changes in the frequency and appearance of stool being passed
- Appearance of mucus in stool
IBS patients can be classified into four different subtypes depending on the shape of their stool:
IBS-Constipation (IBS-C): Abdominal symptoms are accompanied by constipation, which occurs when stool is passed less than three times per week.
IBS-Diarrhea (IBS-D): This type of IBS comes with loose stools and sudden urges to have bowel movements. About one in three people will also lose control of their bowel movements and experience soiling.
IBS-Mixed (IBS-M): Patients diagnosed with this type of IBS experience symptoms consistent with both IBS-C and IBS-D, often alternating between the two.
- Undefined: For these patients, the symptoms vary to the point that the type of IBS cannot be determined under the classifications.
It’s important to be able to distinguish between IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders that may be more severe, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As such, please speak with your gastroenterologist, who may recommend a series of diagnostic tests and questions, including:
Physical examination: Different physical tests can be used to search for abnormalities in the gut. These include a colonoscopy, a CT scan, or an upper endoscopy.
Family history: Recent studies have helped confirm a genetic link between family history and IBS risk. However, other gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and colorectal cancer, also have genetic links.
- Laboratory tests: These tests will feature collecting clinical samples, such as your stool and breath, to rule out other causes of disease (such as microbial infections in the large and small intestine).
In addition to the aforementioned genetic risk factor, several other common risk factors for IBS onset and severity include the following:
How to treat IBS flare ups
Unfortunately, IBS does not have a cure. As an IBS patient, you may experience IBS very differently from another person, which makes a single treatment plan difficult to develop. However, IBS treatment can feature patient-centered strategies to ensure that you, as an IBS patient, can live your life as symptom-free as possible. Therefore, it’s best to work closely with your medical provider on a detailed symptom management plan.
Following your medical team’s diagnosis and assessment of your condition, they will no doubt recommend the lifestyle changes we summarize in the next section.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, it’s possible, too, that your provider could recommend various available over-the-counter or prescribed medications. We are not in the business of dispensing medical advice, so we merely list here some of the more commonly prescribed pharmacological therapies for IBS:
Lifestyle changes to manage IBS
Frontline medical treatment for IBS includes recommended lifestyle changes aimed at helping you better manage your physical symptoms while maintaining your mental health and well-being:
Exercise regularly: Exercise provides long-term benefits to mental health that in turn improve gut function, possibly through the gut-brain axis.
Get enough sleep: Not having a good night’s rest can increase the risk of next-day abdominal pain, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Take care of your mental health: Talk to your medical provider if you are experiencing feelings of intense anxiety, low energy, or depression. Physicians can prescribe different medications and supplements, or suggest other therapeutic interventions that can help control your symptoms.
- Changes to your daily diet: Your diet has one of the biggest impacts on your gut microbiome and gut health. It’s such a big factor that we need a whole section just for this change. Read on!
Changes to your diet to manage IBS flare ups
Your doctor is likely to recommend alterations to your diet that will help you manage your IBS symptoms better. These may include a series of dietary restrictions and introductions that require a bit of experimenting to get to your sweet spot. The recommendations may be highly personalized, since how one person reacts to a type of food may not be the same for another person. So before proceeding with the list of foods below, bear in mind that consulting with your doctor is essential for narrowing down the foods you can eat or should try to avoid.
Foods to avoid with IBS
It is often recommended that an IBS patient consider reducing their intake of foods rich in the following components:
- Bean and legumes (oligosaccharides)
- Fried and ultra-processed foods (high in fats and simple sugars)
- Artificial sweeteners (monosaccharides)
- Garlic and onions (fructans – oligosaccharides)
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale
- Dairy foods (lactose, particularly if you’re lactose-intolerant))
- Certain fruits like apples, grapes, watermelon, asparagus (rich in fructose)
Best foods for IBS
With the myriad foods that can drive IBS flare ups, the period of experimentation can be a struggle. That said, do not despair if you face challenges finding what works for you. There are also dietary supplements that can help you manage your symptoms. Eden’s synbiotic contains several ingredients pertinent to the relieving of IBS symptoms:
Insoluble fibers, one of two classes of fibers, are carbohydrates that your body cannot digest. Insoluble fibers add bulk to stool by increasing the movement of food through the stomach and the intestines. Eden’s mixture of gums, locust bean gum and guar gum provide a combination of insoluble fibers that adds bulk to stool and improves diarrhea symptoms. Additionally, these fibers can help control diabetes, and their gelling abilities increase feelings of fullness.
Soluble fibers are the other class of fibers, which dissolve in water and can alleviate diarrhea, but may also increase flatulence. Nevertheless, soluble fibers have an ability to hold water and can help produce soft, bulk stools to alleviate constipation. Eden’s formulation contains three ingredients rich in prebiotic soluble fiber: oat bran, barley beta glucan, and resistant potato starch. Oat bran and barley beta glucan are prebiotic fibers that have both been shown to alleviate constipation, and they are also associated with lowered cholesterol levels and the control of blood sugar levels. The resistant potato starch, Solnul™, also reduces both constipation and diarrhea symptoms by at least 50%. Better still, Solnul™ is a low-FODMAP food that increases the abundance of beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium.
- Probiotics are live bacteria that confer health benefits. They are generally known to be effective for alleviating IBS symptoms, although their effectiveness depends on the type and quantity consumed. Eden’s blends three probiotic bacterial strains plus a yeast. Bacillus coagulans SC208 has been shown to reduce damage to the gut, according to a 2020 study. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG can also reduce IBS symptoms and improve quality of life. The same applies to Lactobacillus paracasei LPC-37, which is considered the best natural probiotic for relieving IBS symptoms.
IBS is not a fatal disease, but it is important to treat it by optimally managing its symptoms. Characterized by intermittent but often chronic abdominal pain and impaired gut function, IBS flare ups can often be well-managed by adopting and adhering to a healthier lifestyle. Dietary choices play an essential role in keeping the IBS-afflicted gut happier. While recommended dietary strategies may involve certain food restrictions, those challenges are surmountable. Supplementing your diet with the Eden’s synbiotic blend can help better balance your nutritional needs while also relieving your worst IBS flare ups.