QUICK HEALTH TIPS: Irritable bowel syndrome.

QUICK HEALTH TIPS: Irritable bowel syndrome.

What does it mean to have an irritable bowel? Basically, it means that certain foods and drinks and stressful events in your life—things that wouldn’t normally cause problems in other people—give you alternating bouts of constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain…you can even get all three at the same time! Fortunately, this condition isn’t life-threatening, but obviously it is no fun, so take heart that there ARE ways to handle it. Relaxation and meditation help to alleviate symptoms. If stress in your life is especially problematic, maybe psychological counseling would be a good place to start. Otherwise, there are several self-help methods you can try.

Persons with irritable bowel have an intestinal system that overreacts to food, stress and hormonal changes. Pay attention to what stressful situations bring on the symptoms….for example, a difficult relationship with someone close to you either in the family or the workplace. Take the time to work on that part of your life by talking it out, either with the person in question, or someone else. Often, just deciding to address the issue, starts you on the road to improving your symptoms. Keep tabs on which foods and beverages seem to trigger a bad spell, and avoid them in your diet. Non-soluble fiber, found in bran, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables is helpful, as is the use of psyllium seed, a natural laxative. (With bran, add it slowly to give your body time to adjust.)

Drink lots of water. To keep your bowels moving smoothly, you need not only fiber, but fluids as well. Many people who think they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) actually are really lactose intolerant. Try giving up dairy products for a couple of days and see how you do. It’s possible that this one dietary change can clear up all your problems.

Eliminate heavy sauces, fried foods, and salad oils from your diet. Fat is a major stimulus to colonic contractions. You also might avoid gas-producing foods like cabbage, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions and cauliflower.

Beware of spicy foods, and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes. Try using decaffeinated coffee. The complex carbohydrates in beer and the tannin in red wine are often the cause of intestinal discomfort. Nicotene both in cigarettes and nicotine gum cause problems.

Eat frequent smaller meals instead of infrequent larger ones. A lot of food eaten all at once over- stimulates the digestive system. Regular exercise will more than likely calm your irritable bowel as it strengthens the body, toning you all over, but don’t overdo.

Ibuprofen meds may help to inhibit some of the hormonal changes that can sometimes bring on symptoms. If you are experiencing abdominal pain, a hot water bottle or heating pad on the stomach will be helpful, as will just lying down, taking a deep breath and trying to relax.


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  • Anthony R
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