How to manage your IBS symptoms

how to manage IBS flare ups

 

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

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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:

  • Diet: What you eat can have major impacts on intestinal function and, in turn, can affect the IBS risk level. The Western Diet, notoriously high in “bad” (e.g., saturated) fats and sugars, increases intestinal inflammation, as seen in mouse models. In contrast, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats, and whole grains reduces the risk of diseases arising from intestinal inflammation.

  • Stress: Feeling stressed and anxious increases the risk of IBS. Stress has adverse impacts on several aspects of intestinal function, such as intestinal sensitivity, bowel movement regularity, and immune system activation.

  • Obesity: Increased body weight may increase the severity of IBS for the afflicted. While further work needs to be done on this association, early findings suggest that obese individuals are more at risk for altered bowel movements and transit of gut contents.
  • 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: 

  • Fiber supplements typically employ psyllium as the main active ingredient. Extracted from the seeds of Plantago plants, psyllium is a soluble fiber that can add bulk to your stool and alleviate constipation.
  • Laxatives and antidiarrheal medications can help control your bowel movements. Laxatives may be prescribed to alleviate IBS-C, while antidiarrheal medications would help improve IBS-D.
  • Antidepressants help alleviate the depression symptoms that can arise among IBS patients. In addition, a 2019 systematic review determined that antidepressants can actually alleviate IBS’s physical symptoms. However, whether this arises from its impact on intestinal movement or simply from treating the mental responses to pain requires further investigation.
  • You can also ask your doctor about using Eden’s Synbiotic supplement, a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols designed to provide a triple punch against IBS. Eden’s has been shown to increase bowel movements, alleviate inflammation, and enhance the growth of healthy microbes that may help your gut stay healthy.

  • 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:


    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:

  • FODMAPs: These represent foods rich in “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.” While such FODMAPS foods help your gut microbes grow, which promotes production of beneficial short chain fatty acids, this process often increases gas production in the intestines, which can increase flatulence and bloating in IBS patients. Excess FODMAPs can also increase the risk of diarrhea for people with IBS by increase water content in stool. Foods rich in FODMAPs include the following:
      • 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) 
  • Gluten: This protein plays a key part in upholding the plant structure of multiple grains. While an adverse immune reaction to gluten is associated with celiac disease, which is a far less common disorder, the symptoms of some IBS patients do improve with a gluten-free diet.

  • Carbonated and alcoholic drinks: These and any other drinks or foods that increase gas production should be avoided, to reduce the risk of uncomfortable bloating, a common symptom of IBS.

  • High-fat foods: Fats in your gut can reduce bowel motility and keep intestinal gasses inside, inducing bloating. Thus, fried foods and other foods high in saturated fats can also increase the risk of IBS flare ups.

  • Simple sugars: Found in foods such as cookies, sugar-sweetened beverages, ketchup and sauces, and even in fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt, simple sugars are also known to induce gut inflammation. In fact, some of the FODMAP molecules, such as fructose and sucrose, are simple sugars. In addition, people with IBS are more likely to have type 2 diabetes (T2D). While the mechanisms behind this correlation are not fully understood, it does provide an opportunity to further study how glucose consumption correlates with IBS risk.
  • 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:  

    Key takeaways

    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.

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