A couple of years ago I got diagnosed with IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My first thoughts were: What is it and how did I get it?
For the second question, there isn’t an answer unfortunately, what causes IBS is to this day unknown.
There are factors though that might play a role in creating the syndrome. A first flare can, for example, start after an inflammation in the intestines, a change of bacteria in the intestinal system, etc.
The symptoms of an IBS attack or flare are pain, cramps, gas, diarrhea and or constipation, changes in bowel movements, etc. Symptoms and sincerity differ from person to person and also from episode to episode.
Around 10-15% of people suffer from IBS, so it’s not such a rare disease, which makes it a lot easier to find a lot of documentation about it.
A cure, on the other hand, there isn’t.
However, with all the things we know so far, there are a lot of methods we can use to relieve the symptoms and lead a normal life. In this article, I will deliver you some information, mostly
Both stress and food are seen as the main cause of flares of IBS. Thefore it’s really good to combine these two into one article. This way you’ll be able to attack two fronts and get a relieve of your symptoms.
Update: I’ve written this article a year ago when I had a lot of issues. Not necessarily because of stress, but because of the food I ate. I will talk more about my process in the rest of this article.
IBS and Food
On of the methods on how to relieve IBS is by taking care of your diet. And now I’m not talking about the standard diet to lose some weight.
There is a method called the low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols.
They are the carbs that are only processed in the lower intestines, which makes them quite hard for our system to digest. With people who have IBS, this causes symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas, …
When I first got diagnosed with IBS nobody told me about this and I never looked further into it.
But recently I had a big flare again and when I went to the doctor again he revealed this method to me.
When I looked at the paper I instantly saw that beans were one of the highest FODMAPS on the list.
Okay, I knew already that beans weren’t that good for the intestines, but as a vegetarian, it’s my main source of protein. But alright, let’s cut the beans. Since I stopped eating beans, flares have been less recurring, so it is doing something good.
It’s no surprise that taking care of your food influences your body. And when you take a closer look at the high FODMAP’s, you’ll see immediately that a lot of things on the list are actually those things you already knew that wasn’t going to be good for you.
To deal with this diet, I’d suggest you focus on the things you can eat though.
I’m never a fan of the negative part, letting go of the things you like to eat part. So, have a look at the things that you can eat, and look if there are some of your favorites there as well. This might make it easier for you to come up with a plan and stick on to it.
Another note I’d like to add before heading on to the next method is that you should try to eliminate all the high-FODMAP food for a couple of weeks.
After that, your system had a little reset. If you do feel that there has been a strong relieve of the symptoms, then you know it is working.
Following that, you can slowly try to eat some other high-FODMAP products to see which you can and can’t eat.
This is quite a lengthy process and I’ve never really given it a go. I was just lucky that I already knew rather fast which foods I could and couldn’t eat.
If you do want to get the best results though, I really suggest going to a nutritionist for help and guidance in this process.
UPDATE: As I mentioned above, I’ve written this article quite a while ago already. Now, in November 2020, I’ve got my symptoms and everything under control.
To give you a bit of my story once again. A couple of months ago I started intermittent fasting. Not just because I felt it was about time to do something about my weight, but also because I’ve heard about people who got their stomach issues under control with it as well.
That’s what I wanted to see as well. I still have to make sure that I watch what exactly I eat. But when I have a flare of IBS, they are much smaller and a lot less painful.
Also, after a couple of days, the symptoms are gone already and I can relax completely again.
I’m not saying that this might be the system for you to use. My body is different than that of you. Although, I’ve heard quite some people say that this really helped them.
And of course, if you don’t eat from morning till evening, you can expect your guts to have the time to heal as well. Maybe Intermittent Fasting might be something for you?
Helpful Links for Guidance With IBS
- Monash University – Not a complete chart, but it gives you more additional information about food.
- Kate Scarlata – Great and full chart
- Diet vs. Diet – Downloadable chart
IBS and Yoga
Anxiety and IBS are going hand in hand. It’s again a bit of the chicken and the egg story, what caused an episode of which of these two?
It’s not shocking that IBS can bring anxiety and depression as having problems with your intestines can create a lot of discomfort and worry.
This is why I found yoga to be a help in managing stress relief and relaxation.
Stress is a big factor when it comes down to digestion issues and therefore it’s good to do light exercises and have some things that are relaxing to you at hand to eliminate this factor.
For myself, I found that doing certain yoga poses for irritable bowel syndrome brought me great relief. I’ve composed a small sequence here for you to do at home whenever you are having a flare of IBS, especially for those of you who have the Constipation type.
Yoga Poses IBS With Constipation
In this sequence I’ll be explaining the yoga poses for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
I’ve made this sequence with Tummee, and I’ll be giving some more explanation about the sequence underneath the pictures.
These yoga poses are helping with your digestive health. I’d recommend doing this sequence every day when you have issues with digesting properly.
If you’d like to have the hand-out of this sequence, click here.
- You start off going into Child Pose; be aware that you widen your knees a little to make sure that your belly isn’t obstructed
- Move into Cobra Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Child Pose
- Repeat 1-4 about 3x, you can do it longer if you have the time and energy
6. Thunderbolt Pose: stay in this pose for about 2 minutes, you can use a cushion under your knees or buttocks for a more comfortable position
7. After two minutes you put your hands on your knees and you arch the back on an exhale and bring your chest to the front on an inhale
8. Come on hands and knees to do the Cat/Cow Poses
9. Go back into Thunderbolt Pose for a couple of breaths to move into:
10. Child Pose, from here move onto your belly
11. Half Frog Pose: move your first knee into a 90° angle, after a couple of minutes you do the same with the other leg.
12. You turn yourself onto your back for the Wind Release Flow, you bring your knees to your belly on an exhale and you move them away from you on an inhale
13. Happy Baby Pose, maybe with some rocking on your spine if you also want to give your spine a little relief.
14. Optional: Pranayama: Alternate Nostril or Bhramari
I sincerely hope that this sequence will give you the relief that I have when I’m having a flare of IBS.
I just hope that whenever you read this article, that you will know that you are supported and you are not in this alone. It’s not a syndrome that will cause any other diseases, it just can be very awful to live with at times.
I do believe though that by managing your stress, you will also be able to manage your IBS symptoms.
A small disclaimer that I’m not a doctor and I can’t give any medical advice nor can I make a diagnosis. I am merely here sharing those things that have helped me control my symptoms. If you are concerned about anything, it’s always advisable to visit your physician.
If you have any more suggestions, or you’d like to share your story and how you are handling with your IBS, please leave a message in the comment section below!