Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Management with Lifestyle Measures

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the stomach and intestines, which mainly manifests as abdominal pain on defecation and altered bowel habits. Based on the changes in frequency and/or form of stool, it is classified as constipation-predominant IBS, diarrhea-predominant IBS, and mixed pattern IBS. Although the causes of IBS are not fully understood, it is generally attributed to certain lifestyle and psychological factors. Since the diagnosis is mostly based on clinical symptoms, the treatment also largely involves symptom control. Here is a list of some lifestyle measures that are effective in the management of IBS.

1. Dietary modifications
There are certain carbohydrates and other food constituents that can contribute to symptoms related to IBS by undergoing fermentation in the gut. These are referred to as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols). Diet low in FODMAPs is likely to reduce IBS symptoms and lead to a better quality of life. Some examples of foods with low FODMAPs are eggs, oats, peanuts, cucumbers, carrots, hard cheese, lettuce, and strawberries. On the other hand, avoiding or limiting certain foods like asparagus, artichoke, cauliflower, cashews, pistachios, mushrooms, legumes, wheat, and honey, etc, may also help.

2. Physical activity
IBS symptoms tend to get better with increased physical activity. It is recommended to establish an exercise routine that is increased moderately in intensity over a reasonable period. We advise working out for 20-30 minutes at least 3 times a week.

3. Use of probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are modified to reduce their harmful effects, but when ingested, tend to improve the environment of the gut. They may be referred to as the good bacteria that have a role in promoting digestion and keeping the gut healthy. There is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that probiotics are effective in the management of IBS symptoms including abdominal pain and bloating. For more information on probiotics and their use in IBS, speak to our pharmacist at Guildview pharmacy in a one-on-one consult.

4. Mindfulness-based therapies
It has been observed that there is some level of psychological involvement in the development of IBS. Therefore it is recommended to try mind-based therapies for its management. Mindfulness techniques are found to be effective in the treatment of IBS.

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