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Lady suffering with IBS symptoms holding her tummy in pain with a hot water bottle

How to Manage IBS Flare-Ups

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a condition that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating. IBS is a common condition, affecting up to 15% of the UK population.

An IBS flare-up is when you experience the common symptoms associated with IBS because of something you have eaten, although sometimes, it can also be caused by stress.

IBS flare-ups can be extremely uncomfortable and even debilitating. While not everyone experiences IBS in the same way or for the same reasons, there are several steps that can be taken to help lessen the frequency and severity of flare-ups that anyone can apply.

Diet for IBS

Making dietary changes is often the first step in managing IBS flare-ups. Identifying and avoiding trigger foods can make a big difference. Common trigger foods include dairy, wheat, caffeine, alcohol, and fried or fatty foods. FODMAPs are also a common trigger for IBS symptoms. FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are found in many common foods. They are poorly absorbed by the gut and can cause gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.

To simplify, FODMAP is a system that ranks food groups according to how well the body digests and absorbs their sugary carbohydrates. Low FODMAP foods are considered to be better for people suffering from IBS.

Following a FODMAP diet requires you to eliminate most foods for a period of time and then reintroduce food items one at a time until you identify which food items cause you discomfort.

Supplements 

There are a number of supplements that can help ease IBS symptoms. Probiotics are live bacteria that help to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora and they have been shown to reduce some of the symptoms associated with IBS. Peppermint tea or oil is another popular supplement for IBS relief. It has an antispasmodic effect that can help to relieve stomach cramps.

JUVIA has helped lots of people that experience discomfort after eating, particularly with bloating and irregular bowel movements. Even though the evidence looks good, more research is required before JUVIA can make a health claim to this effect, but we are on it, so watch this space.

JUVIA is a groundbreaking food supplement made with just one main ingredient: barley. The enzyme rich barley extract promotes the good flora in your gut, so your body is better able to digest food items that normally bother you. 

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to manage stress, which is a common trigger for IBS flare-ups. It can also help to ease other symptoms like bloating and gas. It's important to seek advice and not take on physical activities that are too intense while you are experiencing flare-ups. This is because it can add to the stress that your body is experiencing and that may exacerbate your symptoms.

The idea is to implement a regular exercise regime into your life to improve your overall health. In turn, this should reduce symptoms of stress and improve your body’s ability to handle stressful situations. Exercise is well known for increasing endorphins and elevating mood, both of which counter stress.

Stress management

Stress is a common trigger for IBS flare-ups. When you're feeling stressed, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This causes a number of physiological changes in the body, including an increase in stomach acid production. Unsurprisingly, this can have an impact on your digestion, which leads to flare-ups. 

There are a number of stress management techniques that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of IBS flare-ups. Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises can all be helpful in reducing stress levels. 

Stress management is dismissed far too often when looking for a solution for IBS, but the relationship between stress and flare-ups is so common that you cannot afford to ignore it. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can also be helpful in managing stress. CBT is a short-term treatment that teaches you how to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to your stress.

Making lifestyle changes like getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and practising stress management techniques can help to reduce the frequency and severity of IBS flare-ups. While there is no silver bullet in the medical books, these steps can help you to manage your symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

If you are suffering from frequent or severe IBS flare-ups, it’s important to speak to your doctor. They will be able to help you rule out other potential causes of your symptoms and develop a plan to manage your condition better.

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