Your Bloating And IBS Issues, Solved! By Baraa El Sabbagh, Registered Dietician In Dubai
What Happens When You Have IBS?
Ladies and gents, today we’re talking about irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS for short. This post is for you if you experience one of the many uncomfortable IBS symptoms like bloating and feeling like you're 5 months pregnant, rushing to the bathroom because of improper digestion and diarrhea, feeling gassy, and constant discomfort because of something you ate or another type of trigger.
If you’d rather hear this chat with Kirsten Jackson, an IBS expert, head over to the podcast. You’ll get all the info in under an hour AND you could be finishing up a chore or two at the same time!
A Chat With IBS Expert, Kirsten Jackson
Kirsten Jackson is not only a registered dietitian that’s received training specific to IBS and has a whole multifaceted approach to treating it, she went through IBS herself! She is a UK registered consultant on IBS and the founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She bases all of her work on the latest published evidence and guidelines from the US, UK and Australia. She’s been in the field for more than 8 years now and has dealt with thousands of people who have suffered with IBS.
What Are The Main Symptoms Of IBS?
First of all, IBS is not a disease. Your gut is hypersensitive and irritated, like it says in the name: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You could have constipation, stomach noises, diarrhea, loose stool, etc. The important thing is not to diagnose yourself, find a professional to deal with it properly and safely.
What Triggers IBS For People?
There’s no official reason for what causes IBS, we only know that it’s linked to things like food intolerances, hypersensitive gut, and stress. Can it be cured? No. Can it be managed? Absolutely.
Should You Go To A Doctor For IBS?
Yes, go get some blood tests done if you suspect you have IBS. It's important to get checked because it could be something else entirely; like celiac disease or, more seriously, cancer. You can go to any general practitioner or family doctor for these blood tests. If something comes up on your tests, your doctor can then recommend a colonoscopy and a specialist will take it from there.
Does IBS Ever Go Away?
Unfortunately, IBS will never go away completely but with time you can learn how to manage it and take control. You’ll eventually find out what are the foods that trigger it and stay away from them. But the sad truth is the next time you feel stress or unease, the symptoms might come back. So you can stay away from the foods that irritate your gut, but if you don’t manage your stress levels, it will come up more frequently.
Where To Start If Diagnosed With IBS?
After you get your diagnosis, you won’t necessarily get the proper treatment from your general doctor, so it’s best to start this process by meeting with a dietician. You want someone to take the time to find your triggers and reduce any gut sensitivities, so look for a qualified, board certified dietician with a medical background. You can find one to one specialists or group programs, like Kirsten’s Take Control Gut Health Program.
What’s A FODMAP?
FODMAPS are fermentable carbs, they’re found in onion, garlic, bread, and other types of food. These foods go into the stomach and into the small and large bowels, where they react to gut bacteria and produce a lot of gas, diarrhea, and the rest of the IBS symptoms.
Typical IBS protocol will put you on a low FODMAP diet. This would be around 4 weeks of abstaining from these fermentable carbs, then slowly reintroducing them again to your system, one by one. This way you can find out what irritates your gut and flares up the IBS.
The great this is you don’t have to abstain from certain foods forever if you find out they’re triggers, your dietician can help you find alternatives that won’t harm you. So if wheat is one of your triggers, you don't have to give up bread forever, you can find a wheat-free substitute.
Can Probiotics Help With IBS?
Supplements and probiotics can definitely help improve your gut health, because you won’t be able to get the right acids and nutrients from food alone. Probiotics have a type of acid that’s designed to help your gut with digesting and operating without difficulty. Try not to get overwhelmed or misled by the thousand options for probiotics out there. Here are a few that Kirsten suggested:
Also remember, it’s not about the price! Just because one supplement is more expensive than the other doesn’t mean it will be more effective.
The Deal With Fiber & IBS
Usually, fiber and stomach issues go hand in hand. The mistake people make is eating too much fiber when their bodies aren't used to it. You should GRADUALLY increase the amount of fiber you're eating until your digestive system gets the hang of things. Here are some other ways you can keep eating fiber and plant-based food without irritating your gut:
- Soak your beans and lentils before eating them, it’ll draw out their fermented carbs
- Use canned or tinned instead of fresh lentils, as long as they’re BPA-free and don’t have additives
- Boil beans and lentils before eating them
- Pay attention to portion size, if you have more fiber than your body needs, you can get bloated and gassy
How To Deal With IBS At Home
Other than food, it’s important to focus on your mental health when dealing with IBS:
- Doing yoga twice a week and generally moving every day
- Sleeping a quality 8 hours every night
- Reducing stress by meditating, try Headspace or Calm
- Dealing with food anxiety by seeing a dietician
- Find the right probiotic for you
- Try peppermint oil and tea
To improve the quality of your sleep, check out this podcast episode that talks all about it! You’ll find out what makes a quality sleep environment, how cold you should keep your bedroom, and so much more.
You’ve Got This!
Getting diagnosed with IBS doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world! Every person deals with it differently, all you have to do is find the right dietician, eliminate trigger foods, try the alternatives, and above all, lessen stress. Take part in activities that make you happy and care-free, and just know even if the IBS does come back, it’s only temporary and you can take control of the situation with knowledge and some expert help.
Till next time!