Secrets to Manage IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be a frustrating condition to live with. It may seem like your digestive system has a mind of it’s own…and in a way that is the reality. Much of your nervous system resides in your digestive tract, which is why stress and sleep both significantly impact IBS. There are many diet and lifestyle recommendations for managing IBS, yet there is not a one-size-fits-all program for people with IBS, which can be overwhelming. These are a few of the strategies that I find helpful to a lot of people.

  1. Rule out celiac disease, lactose intolerance and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
  2. Eat, sleep and exercise consistently, at the same times each day. Get enough sleep and exercise to help manage your stress level.
  3. Take supplements of peppermint oil. Peppermint oil helps to calm spasms in your digestive tract.
  4. Eat slowly and calmly.
  5. Avoid refined, processed foods that are high in fat, fried and/or high in sugar.
  6. Read ingredient lists and avoid the following: carrageenan, gums such as guar gum, acacia gum, xantham gum, and locust bean gum, and avoid sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and other compounds ending in “-ol”. These all cause gas and bloating in sensitive individuals.
  7. Consider FODMAPs and how foods high in FODMAPs might be negatively affecting you.
  8. Take a high-quality probiotic supplement specific to your digestive complaints.

Be patient with yourself. There are many more strategies that you can experiment with, but please consult with a knowledgeable dietitian before treating IBS or other digestive health issues on your own. There is a lot to know, a lot that can help and, unfortunately, a lot of misinformation in the media about digestive wellness. A dietitian that is well versed in digestive health will help you pin-point what works and what doesn’t, which protects you from casting your net so wide that you end up with a highly restricted diet.

Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.

3 thoughts on “Secrets to Manage IBS

  1. Acacia gum is very unlikely to cause gas and bloating. It has clinical studies showing that it has a “good gastrointestinal tolerance” and also that it has a prebiotic effect, which will actively decrease gas and bloating. It is unrelated to the other gums you have listed, and all of the gums are completely unrelated to the sugar alcohols.

    • Thank you for your comment Heather. Acacia gum, precisely because it acts like a prebiotic, may cause gas and bloating in people with IBS. Through trial and error those with IBS can decipher which gums, foods, supplements, etc are tolerable and which are not. And yes, you are correct, gums and sugar alcohols are unrelated compounds, except that all of these may cause gas and bloating in people with IBS.

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