Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and cramping. Research suggests that around 10 to 15% of Americans have this disorder, but that statistic is hard to pinpoint since at least half of people with IBS do not get a formal diagnosis. Women are about twice as likely to have IBS as men.
If you have IBS, you are no doubt already aware how uncomfortable the condition can be. Here, integrative gastroenterologist Dr. Lynne Ahn shares some useful tips for overcoming the worst of IBS.
Certain foods and beverages can cause IBS to flare up, but those triggers are not necessarily the same from person to person. Common triggers include dairy, gluten, alcohol, beans, caffeine, sugar and onions.
One of the best ways to determine which foods are worst for your IBS is with an elimination diet. With an elimination diet, you stop consuming foods that you suspect may cause gastrointestinal distress, then over time reintroduce one food. If IBS returns after reintroducing a particular food, you can reasonably assume that your body has trouble tolerating it.
One food to pay special attention to is fiber. While some patients who add more fiber to their diet see an improvement to their IBS, others find that it amplifies the symptoms. There are several different types of fiber so it is important to pick the fiber you can tolerate. Experimentation is the initial way to make this determination. However, Dr. Ahn can help you determine which fiber you may tolerate best.
Probiotics are a combination of beneficial bacteria and yeast that occur naturally in your body. They are effective at taking on bad bacteria in your system to keep you healthy. However, if your gut has an insufficient amount of good bacteria and keystone species, taking specific probiotic supplements can help to restore harmony to your body. Some patients (but certainly not all) find that taking Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus supplements bolsters their digestive system. Other patients may benefit from a spore probiotic, It is important to do stool testing to determine which probiotic may boost your microbiome. Dr. Ahn can then help determine which probiotic is best for you based on these individualized stool testing. This is one way Dr. Ahn can tailor your treatment to you.
Address Your Stress
Anxiety is interconnected with gut health. Finding ways to alleviate the stress you experience can help to transform not only your mental health, but also your physical health. Dr. Ahn has developed many stress management techniques to help her patients achieve peace in their bodies and minds.
Improve Your Sleep
While IBS is known to cause sleep problems, the reverse is also true: getting insufficient sleep can exaggerate the symptoms of your IBS. Adopting a nighttime routine that includes a steady bedtime, sleeping in a quiet and dark room and avoiding screentime before your sleep can help you to achieve more productive rest. If sleep is consistently a problem for you, Dr. Ahn can help to treat your sleep disorder.
See Dr. Ahn for a Comprehensive IBS Plan
If you are not finding much success managing your IBS on your own, Dr. Ahn is happy to work through a variety of potential solutions to figure out a plan that works best for your unique body. As an experienced gastroenterologist, she understands that conquering IBS can be a process, and she is willing to put in the time to achieve wellness and happiness for her patients. Email or call (781) 237-1600 to arrange a consultation.