Living with IBS, especially when first diagnosed, can be a challenging experience. Your body won’t do what you want, there is masses of overwhelming information online, doctors will often feel less than supportive and, lets face it, not many people are willing to hear about your bowel habits! Although awareness of so called ‘invisible illnesses’ is fast making a regular appearance in the media, there is still often a stigma around these conditions as a lot of people don’t understand them because they haven’t experienced them or spoken to someone who has.
In honour of IBS Awareness Month I have teamed up with Alflorex to list some of my top tips for living with the condition in the hope that they will help other people cope a little better. I was going to do a top 5 or a top 10 but I just couldn’t decide which ones were more important so had to include them all!
- The Low FODMAP Diet – I cannot stress this one enough. Sticking to the elimination and reintroduction phases of the diet have been life changing for me. I will it admit that is so hard to see it through, especially during the elimination phase but trust me it is worth it! Knowing what my main triggers are has reduced the frequency of my flare ups massively and sped up recovery when I have eaten something off plan. CLICK HERE to read more about the diet (please consult a GP or Nutritionist before embarking on the diet)
- Take Probiotics – Especially with a sensitive gut, it is important to provide enough good bacteria to aid digestion. Taking a good quality probiotic, like Alflorex PrecisionBiotics, can be beneficial
- Eating Mindfully – this is something i didn’t take seriously for a while but relaxing, sitting down and focusing on your meal can have such benefits. As boring as this sounds, it means than you will be more aware of over-eating (which can trigger IBS symptoms) and are more likely to chew your food properly. Digestion begins in the mouth when we chew our food so this is not something that should be overlooked
- Learning to Manage Stress – Stress has been directly linked to IBS, often triggering the same symptoms we get when we eat something that disagrees with us. I definitely find that this is the case for me. It’s impossible to turn to turn off stress or anxiety so learning but learning to cope with them can help symptoms
- Keeping Active – It’s a well known fact that exercise is beneficial to digestion (and stress!) , although a full on gym workout is the last thing you feel like doing during a flare up. Even just going for a walk, stretching or doing some gentle yoga can help
- Avoid Tight Clothing – If I am suffering from a flare up or know I may eat something that will trigger them I avoid wearing tight clothes as the pressure on your digestive system doesn’t help the situation. Before I learnt to deal with my IBS I had certain clothes for this that I called my ‘IBS wardrobe!’.
- Don’t Chew Gum – This is something I rarely do anymore as it can cause some serious bloating
- Keep a Food Diary – This is such an effective way of finding out what your triggers are. If you are unsure of what is affecting you, note down what you have eaten and see if there are any trends
- Get Enough Sleep – Not enough sleep is bad for your health as it is but I definitely notice that my digestive system is not happy after a bad night’s sleep and can trigger IBS symptoms
- Peppermint Oil/Tea – I swear by drinking peppermint tea to ease bloating and cramps (I even drink tons of it during a Coeliac Disease flare-up) and this is one tip I immediately give to anyone who asks for advice. I now take a peppermint oil capsule most mornings which helps
- Drink Enough Water – Drinking water is beneficial to digestion, so when you have a digestive-condition like IBS it is essential. Most people need to drink at least 2 litres of water a day (approximately 1ml for every calorie burned, so we need more when exercising)
- Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption – I for one am partial to a good cup of coffee, especially before a workout. There’s also nothing like a few alcoholic drinks after a busy week at work! Drinking caffeinated drinks can cause dehydration and irritate the gut lining so limiting to 1 or 2 cups a day seems to be effective for me. I also try and not over-do it with alcohol as this is a major IBS trigger for me, choosing low FODMAP drinks like gin over high FODMAP ones like rum can also reduce the chance of symptoms
Alflorex is a probiotic that is clinically proven to reduce bloating, abdominal pains and other IBS symptoms. It contains the unique culture ‘35624’ which is completely natural and has been shown in clinical trials with IBS sufferers to reduce their symptoms. All you need to do is take one tiny capsule a day! Alflorex is available to order via Amazon just CLICK HERE
*DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by Alflorex*