IBS can be a real mood killer, and those of us who suffer from the annoying and painful condition are regularly in a balance between discomfort and cutting back on the foods we enjoy. It's a common but uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorder that according to the Victorian Department of Health around one in five Australians will experience.
People living with IBS experience excessive gas, abdominal pain and cramps, and it is a chronic condition that can affect individuals for extended periods, sometimes months or even years.
While IBS is common and most people can continue living with it, the good news is that there are some effective ways to treat IBS and reduce the severity of its symptoms, making life much more comfortable.
Below we will explore how probiotics and dietary changes can help reduce symptoms of IBS, and look into some of the most common underlying causes of irritable bowel syndrome. But first, let’s chat about probiotics and why they matter when it comes to IBS.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that contain beneficial strains of bacteria that help to eliminate bad bacteria and prevent infections. Probiotics can be added to your diet through the intake of fermented foods or in the form of supplements and help to restore the balance of healthy microorganisms in your gut.
One of the most common ways to support your gut health and improve symptoms of IBS is to increase your consumption of probiotics.
Probiotics and IBS share a connection and studies have shown that consuming probiotics for IBS can reduce the pain and severity of symptoms. Although the exact cause of IBS is not known probiotics can help to restore the balance of good bacteria in the gut and support optimal functioning of the gut ecosystem.
If you’re looking to add probiotics to your diet, you may also want to consider incorporating the following probiotic foods:
If updating your diet to include more probiotics feels like a tough ask, taking probiotic supplements daily is an easy way help support the body’s digestive functioning.
Vitable’s Daily Probiotics contain 3 strains of gut-friendly bacteria to help support a healthy immune system. Our probiotic blend has been formulated to help manage digestive symptoms including constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and gas which are common symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Now that we understand how probiotics can help support those suffering with IBS, let’s explore some of the common symptoms and causes of IBS to help us understand this common and complex condition.
Those living with IBS may experience many signs and symptoms that can vary from person to person. Here are some possible symptoms you may experience if you have IBS:
Not all IBS was created equal, and individuals are susceptible to varying symptoms and severity depending on the type of IBS they are struck with, some forms of IBS include:
This type of IBS is characterised by alternating constipation and normal stools. Eating is usually a trigger for abdominal cramps and pain.
People with this kind of IBS tend to experience diarrhoea after eating or as soon as they wake up in the morning.
Those in this category would likely alternate between experiencing constipation and diarrhoea.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but there are some warning signs and symptoms of the condition, including:
When food moves through the intestine, layers of muscles that line the intestine will contract. When these muscles contract for too long or too intensely, it causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea. In contrast, when these muscles contract too weakly and for too short a time, they slow the passage of food leading to constipation.
Abnormal or poorly coordinated signals from nerves within your digestive system may cause discomfort or abdominal pain. IBS from nervous system issues isn't so easy to identify and may require further testing from your doctor.
You risk developing IBS when infected by a virus or bacteria. Even when the infection cures, IBS may persist due to a residual imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut.
Stressors from our day-to-day living, like work and relationship stress, may be enough to trigger IBS.
Research has indicated that the balance of bacteria found in people with IBS differs from those without. Probiotic consumption is a great way to improve your gut bacteria balance.
Some people have trouble digesting certain types of foods more than others. This inefficiency in their digestive systems sometimes causes IBS. Individuals with lactose intolerance are at a heightened risk of contracting IBS, especially after consuming dairy.
Certain medications like antibiotics lead to IBS as they can kill off good bacteria, leading to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotic consumption can help balance your gut when taking potentially harmful medication.
IBS can sometimes mask more severe health conditions or be a symptom of another illness. It is important to see your doctor if you present with these signs and symptoms:
Your doctor can identify if you have IBS by asking a few questions. After which, you will likely undergo a test called ROME IV which can accurately diagnose IBS.
If you have a family history of colon cancer or issues with bowel movement, or if your doctor suspects underlying conditions, you may be required to undergo additional tests.
IBS is like a literal and metaphorical kick in the guts, and it can be debilitating when you are struck with the condition. Luckily, there are ways to limit the severity and regularity of IBS, such as:
Certain kinds of food may trigger IBS and having some idea of those foods can help you avoid the dreaded condition. While the cause of why certain foods may trigger IBS is unknown, it helps to pay attention to what foods exacerbate your IBS symptoms so that you can avoid them.
Adding more fibre to your diet can help ease overall symptoms and constipation for those with IBS. However, some fibres are considered gas-producing foods and can cause more distress for IBS sufferers. Such foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and cucumber.
Water helps in breaking down food and softening of stools. Staying constantly hydrated throughout the day can help reduce your risk of IBS.
While stress doesn't necessarily cause IBS, it can worsen. Stress is understood to be related to colon spasms. IBS may also occur due to stress that affects the immune system. Practicing meditation or mindfulness can help alleviate stress.
Fortunately, changes in our diet and lifestyle can help us manage the symptoms and inconveniences of IBS. Proper management and understanding of the condition can help us to live happier and healthier lives.
If you’d like to find out more about how Vitable can help you achieve your health goals, take the quiz today to build your very own vitamin pack. You can also find out more about how the supplements mentioned in this article can help you below:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.