As many as 20% of Brits suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. With no official known cause, bowel symptoms such as cramps, gas, irregular bowel movements, pain, nausea, low energy and mood, are often all lumped into the IBS camp.

But no longer do you have to suffer in silence. In this blog, we have outlined our top tips for beating IBS in a healthy, natural and effective way.

Stress and IBS

Although there is no official cause of IBS, stress is thought to be one of the most significant contributing factors. Stress has a huge impact on our overall health. With stress levels higher than ever, it’s no surprise that so many people suffer from IBS.

But combatting stress is no easy task, work, finances, relationships and family issues can all create stress. Here are some of our top tips for avoiding, dealing with and relieving stress.

Ashwagandha
This Ayurvedic powder works so effectively because it blocks your cortisol (stress hormone) receptors, thus physically altering the way your brain interacts and deals with stress.

Mucuna
Another of our Ayurvedic favourites, mucuna contains L-dopa and 5-HTP, the precursors to dopamine and serotonin that can help with the production of these happy hormones.

Meditation, yoga or other spiritual practice
Regular meditation, yoga or other spiritual practices can be incredibly helpful for calming your mind and teaching you relaxation techniques for dealing with stressful situations. Take just 10 minutes a day to listen to a mindfulness podcast, a meditation app of guided yoga salutation on Youtube. We love the app HeadSpace!

Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the most effective tools for releasing stress, Not only does it help to produce hormones that relieve stress but it’s also a great release of pent up energy.

Diet and IBS

The other main contributing factor that can cause IBS symptoms is your diet. While there are some foods that are thought to be general ‘trigger’ foods that can be inflammatory and acidic, such as coffee, alcohol, dairy and sugar, a lot of trigger foods are also unique to the individual, so what affects one person may not affect another.

Cutting out all potential trigger foods and then reintroducing them one at a time can be an effective way of identifying which foods cause your symptoms. Some diets are also popular for avoiding IBS attacks, in particular, the low FODMAP diet. This diet works on the principle that certain foods contain FODMAPS, carbohydrates that can irritate the gut. By cutting these out you should avoid these triggering factors. This diet has proven very popular with IBS sufferers, 75% of people who tried it reported it had a positive impact on their IBS.

While it might take a bit of time to work out which foods do not suit you, it is well worth taking the time to investigate it. You cannot underestimate the benefits a healthy, vibrant and fresh diet can have on your gut health.

Sleep and IBS

Sleep, remember that? The elusive dream state you used to enjoy before children, work, insomnia, early starts and late nights or night shifts. I cannot highlight enough the importance of sleep for your health. It plays a huge role in reducing stress levels, boosting the immune system, maintaining energy levels and so much more.

In Chinese medicine, nighttime flows into Yin energy, for the hours that you sleep your body regenerates, calms and cools. Your organs each take turn to restore, ready for the new day. But without this important natural cycle, both your mental and physical health can suffer, stress increases, concentration weans, your immune system can weaken and blood pressure rise.

The advice really is an oldie but a goodie. Try to get a solid 7-8 hours sleep a night, avoid screens before bed and give yourself time to unwind (not with a glass of wine or coffee) to set you up for a full night of deep rest. You and your gut will feel the difference!

Live Foods

Just as there are foods that can irritate your gut, there are also foods that can nourish, calm and heal your gut. The most beneficial of all are live, fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha.

These foods contain probiotics (good bacteria) that help to balance the bacteria in your gut, easing symptoms of IBS and helping you to properly absorb nutrients. Not only that, these foods are delicious. Try making your own kimchi with our recipe here. Or for a quick snack we love Laurie’s range of kimchi and sauerkraut.

If you’re looking for an easy and convenient solution to getting your fix of probiotics you could try a supplement. Probiotic14 is a high-quality, multi-strain that we have been selling for many years. Taken in conjunction with a digestive enzyme these can greatly increase your gut, and this overall health. If you really want to go full throttle on the good guts, try foods containing prebiotics. These are the food of the probiotic and encourage them to thrive in your gut. Both agave inulin and yacon contain prebiotics and are a sweet, yummy addition to smoothies, shakes, desserts, yoghurt and breakfast.

Food Swaps

Making small swaps from some of your normal foods to healthier, gut-friendly alternatives can have a big impact on symptoms of IBS. It can be hard work managing IBS, especially with busy schedules, on the go eating and little time for self-care. Small changes in your usual routine can make managing the condition easier than you’d expect.

Try some of these swaps for a happy, healthy gut…
Pasta – Brown rice
Sugar – maple syrup/date syrup
Bread – rice cakes/oatcakes
Cows milk – nut or oat milk (we love Oatley Barista milk)
Coffee – Barley cup
Fizzy drink – kombucha

Regulate Your Gut

Bouts of clogging up or letting loose are commonplace with IBS. It can be really affecting when this happens, causing discomfort, nausea and often interrupting your plans.

We are big fans of psyllium for keeping you regular, slowing down or speeding up your movements as required. Psyllium husk is made from the seeds of the Plantago Ovataa plant. It is very high in dietary fibre containing 71g of soluble fibre per 100g and is highly effective at creating the right conditions in the gut for healthy and stable movements. Often used during a fast or detox, psyllium has little taste and is best taken when mixed in a small glass of water.