Chronic Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disease that affects roughly 1 in 5 of the population – though many of us experience uncomfortable cramping, constipation or diarrhea often throughout our lives. So when should you consult a physician due to your inner turmoils?
When symptoms of pain and discomfort become persistent, or drastic changes in your stool occur for an unusual length of time, it is best to seek medical advice and to rule out conditions such as colorectal cancer (which can be diagnosed with a colonoscopy) or inflammatory bowel disease – especially if you are experiencing rectal bleeding, weight loss, or pain that increases in intensity during the night.
Women are almost twice as likely to experience IBS – as well as those under 45 – and hormonal changes are a possible culprit for symptoms. Stress, illness, family history and diet are other large contributors to the disease. While in extreme instances, medications are used to treat symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome, there are key diet and lifestyle changes you can practice to minimize the effects of poor digestive health and discomfort. Here are a few tips to consider when menu planning for your irritable bowel:
- Know The Roots of Bloating. Starchy foods such as bread (wheat, rye, barley and possibly gluton-based items) and even raw fruits and vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower among the biggest offenders) should be minimized at meal times. Carbonated beverages – even seltzer water – can also trigger bloating.
- Stick to a Predictable Schedule. Help your bowels out by allowing them the benefit of routine – eating at the same times each day will aid the flow of your bowel movements. This is where you may wish to experiment: Do several small meals throughout the day aid in digestion, or a few larger meals?
- Drink Water. Water is the magic elixir – not caffeine, which can often contribute to diarrhea. Dairy products such as milk are another often cited root of irritable bowel due to lactose intolerance.
- Monitor your Fiber Intake. How does fiber affect your bowel routine? Incorporate fiber into your diet for a trial period and see if it assists with alleviating symptoms of constipation – or if it actually causes you increased bloating. While the benefits of fiber are hugely positive for some, others may find that a supplement is better to minimize gas build up. Fiber can be naturally found in beans, peas, whole grains, and fresh produce.
Building your Menu:
- Vegetables low in fermentable carbohydrates: alfalfa, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumber, eggplant, fennel, bell peppers, okra, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, scallions, acorn squash, tomato, turnip, sweet potato, white potato, butternut squash, yam, zucchini and water chestnuts, spinach, arugula, endive, lettuce, Swiss chard.
- Fruits low in fructose: banana, blueberry, boysenberry, cantaloupe, cranberry, grape, orange, lemon, lime, kiwi and strawberry.
- Grains: rice, oats, polenta, millet, quinoa and tapioca.
- Lactose-free products: rice milk or soy milk, lactose-free yogurt, hard cheeses, and use olive oil instead of butter.
- Protein: Poultry, fish, and lean meats (avoid red meat.)
Find a detailed infographic for following a low fodmap diet here. You can also find more Menu Ideas via LiveStrong.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist – but it is free. We serve uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.