Excruciating stomach pain? Wind? Diarrhea? Or even just uncomfortable bloating? If you experience any of these frequently could be that you are a victim of IBS. The cause of IBS is uncertain, but there are a number of possibilities, including food intolerance, inflammation, over-activity of intestinal muscles, stress and infection. It is also associated with fibromyalgia, and depression (most of the body’s serotonin is produced in the bowel). IBS is the diagnosis of last resort and you should visit your GP to rule out other conditions, rather than assume you are affected. But fear not – if diagnosed, here’s what you can to do to help it…
Reduce stress and/or find ways to cope with it (through exercise and relaxation, for example yoga).
Not so Sweet
Sugar can be a problem, so keep to a minimum. Fructose in fruit juices can aggravate the condition, so should be avoided. Limit fresh fruit to three portions a day Bananas are a good source or probiotic fibre and are low in acidity, so should be included if possible.
Become a Detective
Write a food diary and note adverse reactions. Use this Jonathan Saunders Soho Diary for Smythson, £295, www.smythson.com
Embrace the Aloe
Aloe Vera is soothing for all inflammatory conditions and can be taken as a juice or in capsule form. It can help maintain bowel regularity.
A calcium and/or magnesium supplement can help IBS sufferers; calcium is binding, so can help in cases of diarrhoea and magnesium relaxes muscles, so can relieve constipation.
Ground your Nuts
Although a diet high in nuts is great since they are highly nutritious, the insoluble fibre and fat can cause reactions. Ground nuts are easier to digest.
Reduce alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Even decaffeinated coffee has around 500 other chemicals, some of which can cause cramping and it can have a laxative effect. Avoid or reduce fizzy drinks. Try herbal teas; camomile is soothing and relaxing, peppermint is antispasmodic and fennel can help with excess gas. Clipper Tea, right, is only £1.35, available from Waitrose.