Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is frustrating for doctors and patients alike. It’s very difficult to diagnose because it takes on so many forms. And how you treat the condition largely depends on individual cases.
For some, IBS may mean regular diarrhea. For others, it can be consistent constipation. It can also take the form of bloating, cramps, headaches, or fatigue-symptoms that can easily be applied to countless conditions or factors. The only thing that anybody really knows about IBS is that there is a mix-up between what the brain and gut are trying to communicate to each other.
Doctors will generally treat IBS based on the symptoms you display. There are also some natural methods you can employ that may help ease your digestive troubles.
- Keeping a food diary: Writing down what you eat can help you track flare-ups and offer insight into any potential triggers. Some foods that are more likely to spark a response include wheat, beef, pork, lamb, and soybeans. Sometimes beans and raw vegetables can stimulate a reaction.
- Adding more fiber: Increasing intake of dietary fiber can help prevent constipation and improve gut bacteria. Cooked vegetables are a great source, as is fruit and whole grains (if your stomach can handle whole grains). Sprinkling flax seeds over yogurt or salads is another way to sneak more fiber into your diet.
- Limit stimulants: If your IBS is marked by diarrhea or painful stomach contractions, limiting (or eliminating) caffeinated stimulants like coffee might help.
- Try turmeric: One small pilot study found that turmeric extract (curcumin) supplementation could have a substantial effect on reducing IBS symptoms (by up to 60 percent). Trying 300-400 milligrams (mg) of turmeric supplements up to three times per day may limit inflammation and reduce pain.
IBS can be a finicky condition that can rely on how well you can manage digestive troubles. At this point there is no cure, so finding ways to manage flare-ups in addition to medical treatment is likely the best option.