It is estimated that up to one-in-three of the UK population will suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at some point in their lives.
A bloated, uncomfortable tummy is pretty unpleasant and while there’s unfortunately no cure for the syndrome, there are ways to curb the symptoms.
As more and more IBS sufferers are shunning drugs and traditional methods of medicine for a more holistic approach, we asked nutritional therapist Natalie Lamb for her top tips on how to beat IBS the natural way. Here’s what she said…
1. First and foremost, identify which foods you are intolerant to. The most common intolerances are dairy products and grains, especially wheat. If you think you could be intolerant to a specific food group, remove these foods from your diet for several weeks as this could give you an indication if they are problematic for you.
2. Avoid gassy fruit and vegetables. Onions, garlic, cauliflower, leeks and cabbage all contain fermentable sugar known as FODMAP which feeds the bad, pathogenic bacteria and releases gas which can result in uncomfortable bloating.
To restore the balance of bacteria in your gut, Natalie suggests taking a multi-strain probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult regularly. When your gut is rebalanced and working optimally, you could slowly start to reintroduce these foods.
3. Stick to soluble fibre. Soluble fibres such as rolled oats, linseeds, ripe fruits and non-starchy vegetables like carrots, celery and lettuce are the easiest types of fibre for IBS sufferers to tolerate. Bulk forming bran fibre, on the other hand, is a lot harsher on the stomach.
4. Peel your veg. By peeling vegetables and slow cooking them in soups and stews, they become more tolerable as they are easier for the body to break down. Stick to small quantities at a time to ensure you can digest food properly and avoid flare-ups.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. These stimulants can provide real irritation for the gut so it’s best to cut down on these where possible. Opt for natural green tea or other soothing herbal teas as an alternative.
6. Stay stress-free. Emotional tension of any kind is regularly linked with the worsening of IBS symptoms and the condition is more commonly seen in those prone to stress, worry, anger anxiety, guilt, depression, etc. A great way to ensure you remain stress-free is by finding a relaxation technique that works for you, such as meditation or deep breathing.