How to Identify Irritable Bowel Syndrome Triggers
If you are one of the 3 million Americans diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), simple changes in your lifestyle and diet can help make your symptoms less severe. While you should not use an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet in place of IBS supplements, avoiding certain foods and situations could reduce the risk of IBS flare ups.
Whether you do or do not suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, some foods are natural laxatives or can cause constipation. Some foods that can cause constipation are:
- Alcohol (beer, wine, and spirits)
- Refined breads and cereals
- Refined foods (chips and cookies)
- Carbonated items (coffee, tea, sodas)
Some prevention tips for IBS constipation triggers are to gradually increase your fiber intake per day. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. You can also increase the amount of sorbitol in your diet – dried plums and prune juice are the most prevalent. Sprinkle ground flaxseed on salads and when cooking, these are rich in micronutrients and fiber.
While constipation is a normal symptom of IBS, diarrhea is the close runner up. These foods can cause IBS-related diarrhea and should be avoided:
- Large intakes of fiber, especially insoluble fiber
- Sugary and/or carbonated items
- Fried foods
- Dairy products
- Broccoli, onions, and cabbage
Fiber is an important nutrient, but overconsumption of anything is never a good thing. If you have been suffering from diarrhea, reduce your amount of fiber and focus on soluble fibers only; these fibers can prevent colon spasms. Some sources of soluble fibers are whole wheat breads, oats, barley, brown rice, pasta, fruits (avoid the skin) and dried fruits. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day to avoid diarrhea induced dehydration.
Stress and Anxiety Triggers
Stress can aggravate your IBS and amplify your symptoms; including but not limited to: constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. Some common stress triggers include:
- Problems at work
- Relationship problems
- Financial instability
These common stressful situations can onset your irritable bowel syndrome, so it is important to have stress coping skills.
Relax! Relaxation is one of the best ways to lower your stress levels. Whether your idea of relaxing is a Netflix movie binge, reading the entire Lord of the Rings novel series, or taking a stroll on the beach, take a minute to unwind.
Talk about the stress. Keeping it all bottled up inside is harmful, find a close friend to confide in about what’s going on. This can also help explain any misunderstanding when your symptoms flare up and you are unable to meet work deadlines or expectations.
Practice a well-balanced diet and lifestyle – refer to the ‘diet triggers’ section of this article to know what food is beneficial or harmful for your symptoms. Get regular exercise and 6-to-8 hours of sleep each night.