IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) affects as many as one in five Aussies, yet it’s kind of a taboo topic. Leading dietician and IBS expert, Chloe McLeod, told us the best ways to manage the condition.

It can be triggered by stress
Stress can trigger symptoms as much as some foods can, so it’s important to maintain a regular relaxation practice to help keep stress at bay. Some of the best activities include walking, yoga and meditation. Yoga is great as it not only helps to de-stress and calm the nervous system, but it can also help stimulate blood flow to the abdominal region and gut, ultimately helping to regulate digestion.

It can upset the natural balance of gut bacteria
Your gut is home to millions of tiny bacteria, so it’s an important first step in managing the condition. Taking a clinically proven probiotic containing a strain called Bifantis can help to restore balance, as well as relieve symptoms of IBS. Bifantis can be found in Meta Align, a new probiotic supplement which is now available in at pharmacies nationwide. Ensuring you eat a wholefoods diet and limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and sugar, as these can all upset the balance of bacteria as well.

It’s more common than you think
IBS affects a huge one in five Australians, but unfortunately it’s not really spoken about. I do believe that seeking support is another extremely important factor in helping to treat and manage the condition. Find health care practitioners with experience in the area, and a good support group. Talk to people to find out what works for them. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Know your FODMAP
In recent years, there has been a huge amount of research published to support the use of a low FODMAP diet to treat and manage IBS. It’s an extremely effective dietary approach to helping manage symptoms. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are different types of carbohydrates that are either poorly absorbed or digested. When they are poorly absorbed, increased water may be drawn into the gut, resulting in diarrhea for some people. For others, the carbohydrates travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria, which then produces gas. This gas can lead to additional symptoms of IBS including bloating, constipation, flatulence, pain and nausea.

Remember, it’s a REAL condition
IBS is not just ‘a bit of an upset tummy’. It is a misunderstood condition which can significantly impact the lives of those who suffer with it. In fact, research has shown that those suffering with IBS need to restrict their usual activities such as work, and socialising, for an average of more than 73 days. This equates to approximately 20% of the calendar year. And for those with severe symptoms, this number jumps to 139 days, or 38% of the year. It is wildly complex, its symptoms and triggers are varied ,and can impact people in a variety of ways, both emotionally and psychologically. It’s important to remember this and to support friends, family members or work colleagues who might be experiencing IBS, no matter what their experience.

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