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  • Writer's pictureStacey Murtagh

Helpful ways to manage your IBS

IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) has become almost a blanket diagnosis for many tummy issues, which is such a shame as sometimes that's not always what it is. It's important, always to listen to your body and continue to ask questions and seek help from your GP.

I was privileged that whilst I lived in Dubai I had private medical insurance which helped me have tests that reached a diagnosis of SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and visceral hypersensitivity (one form of IBS). I had a long journey in getting to a place where I felt better and able to manage my symptoms. Here are some tips that you may find helpful if you experience similar tummy challenges:

  1. Keep a food diary: keeping a diary of what you eat will help you identify any triggers that may impact your tummy. This is especially helpful if you are experiencing tummy issues but not yet had a diagnosis. Write down the foods, but also how you feel after you have eaten and what else is going on in your life at that moment. Stress plays a big factor.

  2. Manage your stress: stress plays a huge role in IBS. Our central nervous system links our gut to our brain and when we enter a sympathetic nervous state (fight or flight), it can be difficult to manage symptoms. Ideally we want to find a balance of the nervous system. We need to be able to help ourselves get into the parasympathetic nervous state (rest & digest) so it can help us reduce stress. Breath-work, yoga, self care, mindfulness - can all help you do this.

  3. Diet: try your best to eat a clean diet with plenty of fresh produce. Try to remove or reduce your consumption of processed foods and alcohol. What you put into your body has an impact not only on your weight but your stress response and your mental health. P.s. not all "healthy food" is good for you, for example my body doesn't like many grains including quinoa and chia seeds.

  4. Pro-biotics & Fermented Foods: I have tried them all and only a few actually worked for me. Please check with your GP before taking any. The only one that worked for me was Symprove which can be pricey. I did the 12 week course along with a specific diet plan which helped me immensely in resetting my gut. Alternatively I recommend Kefir (which I take every day), or another fermented item such as kombucha, sauerkraut or kimchi.

  5. Movement: at times your body may be in pain but do try to get movement in every day, it will help. A walk in nature, swimming, yoga or pilates. Remember I spoke about the stress response, try to do more LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts to reduce stress. HIIT workouts will heighten cortisol levels which will not help if you are in a high stress state.

  6. Get a diagnosis: try to get help from your GP to reach an actual diagnosis for your symptoms and go from there. Please don't use social media or google to self-diagnose. It's always best to consult with your GP to roll out anything potentially sinister.

Remember we are all very different, what works for one person may not work for another so it's important to be aware of that and listen to your own body. I hope these help.

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