If you struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ve got company. Medical researchers estimate that between 25-45 million Americans have this digestive problem, as well as between 10-15% of the global population.
More than half of the people with IBS report moderate-to-severe symptoms. And for people with this degree of IBS, their lives are probably significantly interrupted by this gastrointestinal disease.
If this describes you, you may feel a little better knowing you’re not alone. But it doesn’t solve the problems of unmanaged IBS.
At Rivas Digestive Center, triple board-certified gastroenterologist John M. Rivas, MD, and our entire care team understand the impact IBS can have on the lives of our patients in Hollywood, Florida.
If you’re struggling to manage your IBS, Dr. Rivas can help. Our team works with you to help you reduce the negative impact the disease has on your life by managing the symptoms of IBS.
Read on to learn some of our top tips for managing your IBS.
How can I manage my IBS?
There is no known cure for IBS, and managing the disorder is complicated since people vary in their symptoms and the severity of them. In addition, IBS doesn’t just affect your digestive tract.
For some people, symptoms can be triggered by stress or emotions. And for everyone struggling with IBS, the condition can impact your mental wellness as well as your social and professional life.
If you have IBS, it’s important to work with a specialist to ensure all factors that impact your symptoms are evaluated and taken into consideration to create an individualized IBS management plan.
The first step in managing your IBS is taking a closer look at the foods you eat. While the triggers of IBS may be different for different people, certain foods are more likely to cause problems for people with IBS.
Let’s take a closer look at the most common trigger foods for IBS:
Managing IBS with constipation
Some people have IBS with constipation, which may alternate with diarrhea. If you struggle with IBS-related constipation, avoiding these common trigger foods may help:
- Any refined bread or cereals
- All processed baked goods (e.g., cakes, cookies, pastries)
- Cheeses of all kinds
Eating more fiber can help improve IBS constipation, but if you increase your fiber intake suddenly it can actually make your symptoms worse. Dr. Rivas works with you to help you slowly increase your fiber intake.
Managing IBS with diarrhea
Some people with IBS predominantly have diarrhea or it may alternate with other symptoms. Medical researchers believe this is related to the fact that people with IBS have colons that are more likely to contract, causing or worsening diarrhea.
Avoid these foods if you’re prone to IBS-related diarrhea:
- Foods high in fat
- Carbonated beverages (even decaffeinated)
- Caffeinated food and drinks
- Diet or sugar-free foods made with sugar alcohols
Managing IBS-related gas and bloating
IBS can increase painful gas and bloating. Here are some common trigger foods to avoid to help reduce these symptoms:
- Fatty foods
- Gluten and beans
- Vegetables in the cruciferous family
Sometimes, foods high in insoluble fiber can trigger gas and bloating, though you may be able to tolerate a certain amount before problems arise. Keep a food diary to help you follow your symptoms and identify your triggers.
Managing IBS using FODMAPs
FODMAP refers to a collection of sugar alcohols and carbohydrates your body has trouble absorbing. It stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides, and polyols.
Many IBS patients at Rivas Digestive Center experience tremendous improvement following a low FODMAP diet since foods high in FODMAPs are more likely to cause problems for patients with IBS symptoms. Dr. Rivas can help you learn how to implement a low FODMAP diet for your needs.
What can I do to begin taking control of my IBS?
Even though avoiding different foods can help you manage your IBS symptoms, IBS is a complex condition and other factors need to be considered in your treatment plan. For example, stress and anxiety can trigger symptoms in patients with IBS.
It’s important to go over your current diet and symptoms with Dr. Rivas before making changes to your diet. Dr. Rivas also evaluates your overall health and lifestyle factors to ensure your IBS management plan is customized for you.
At Rivas Digestive Center, we also know the symptoms of IBS can change over the course of your life or be triggered differently at different times. We’re here to help you get through by helping you make changes to your management plan.
For help managing your IBS, call the Hollywood, Florida, office of Rivas Digestive Center at 954-228-5882 or book an appointment online now.