Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder affecting the large intestine resulting in abdominal pain, gas, cramping, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Unfortunately, there is no known cause of IBS, which means it is harder to find a direct cure. Natural remedies have become very popular to help alleviate all the discomfort that comes with IBS, ranging from dietary to lifestyle changes. Below are some natural remedies to conquer the discomforts of IBS.
Fiber has had mixed reviews on IBS symptom relief, depending on the kind of fiber being consumed (insoluble vs. soluble). Insoluble fiber can be found in foods such as oat bran, wheat bran, beans, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes. When consumed, the human body doesn’t digest it, so it aids in bulking stool and excreting waste. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as oats, peas, fruit (apples) and barley. In particular, psyllium (soluble) has shown to be one of the best fibers to help alleviate symptoms for IBS. You can find psyllium in the form of granules, powder (Metamucil), or capsules. It can also be found in fortified cereals. Overall, having enough fiber in your diet can help regulate bowel movement patterns and decrease occurrences of bloat.
Probiotics are healthy gut bacteria that can help promote an overall healthy gut lining. Probiotics can be found in capsules, but also in fermented foods such as yogurt or sauerkraut. There are so many different probiotics on the market, so which ones are the best for IBS? In particular, the strain Bifidobacterium infantis has shown to help alleviate symptoms and can be found in brands such as Align.
Low FODMAP Diet
The Low FODMAP diet stands for “Fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” These are all the short chain fatty acids that we consume and are poorly absorbed by the body. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has great guidelines for how to follow a low FODMAP Diet and what foods to include and limit.
The recommendation from the American Heart Association is to exercise at least 30 minutes daily, or 150 minutes per week. Mentally, exercise has shown to greatly reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. With a reduction in one, or all three, can significantly reduce any IBS-related symptoms. After eating, simply going for a 5-10-minute walk can also help alleviate bloat and/or gas pains.
Relaxing techniques such as meditation, reading a book, doing yoga, or listening to music can calm the brain, which can help calm the gut. Incorporating 5-10-minutes of meditation, in particular, can help reduce overall stress in the body.
Overall, treatment for IBS is very individualized; not one remedy will work for everyone. So, it is important to consult with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to personalize a plan that will work best for you.
Courtney Barth, RD
I started my health journey about 7 years ago; I was overweight, overwhelmed, and desperate to find any way I could to lose weight and be healthier. I have tried every diet in the book, yet never saw results. Right before I entered my freshman year of college I found out that there was actually a career that focuses on healthy eating; a dietitian! I quickly changed my major and dug deep into the books. Four years and 50 lbs lighter, I can honestly say educating yourself on how to eat healthy and make sustainable lifestyle choices will change your life. I know what it is like to struggle with wanting to achieve your ideal body; I've been there. I want to help YOU achieve your goals! Lets do this together!