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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What Is It And How Is It Treated?

Por Ana C. López, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects many people and is characterized by cramps, diarrhea, and/or constipation. If you have this problem, read on to learn more about it and how to manage it so it doesn't interfere with your life.

There are many possible causes for this condition , as well as situations that can increase its symptoms. However, there are no abnormalities in the structure of the intestines. This is not a condition that worsens over time, but it may be recurrent, depending on your lifestyle (diet, physical activity, stress management).

Irritable bowel syndrome is also known as "irritable colon" or "spastic colon", and among its symptoms are:

  • Abdominal distention (bloating), gas.
  • Mucus in the stool.
  • Episodes of diarrhea alternating with episodes of constipation.
  • Abdominal pain and cramps that can become very intense.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

The best way to control irritable bowel syndrome is through a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating, exercise, and effective stress management.

Some practical recommendations to implement in your daily life are:

  • Although specific foods are not responsible for this problem, there are some that can worsen your symptoms. Try to recognize which foods make you feel discomfort and avoid them. Caffeinated beverages and high-fat foods may worsen cramps.
  • If you experience bloating, be careful with gas-producing foods like: nuts, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, and beans, among others.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day (make sure they don't contain added sugar; you can use an artificial sweetener), especially if you have constipation problems.
  • Try to have several small meals during the day, rather than just two or three copious meals.
  • Increase the amount of fiber in your diet, especially soluble fiber, which is found in apples, pears, and oats. However, do it gradually, because some people feel bloated or produce excessive gas if they increase their fiber intake too fast.
  • Do physical activity according to the current recommendation of at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate-intensity level. Exercise also helps improve your intestinal motility, which contributes to prevent constipation. In addition, physical activity is a great way to relax, which is also beneficial in the management of IBS.
  • Avoid the use of laxatives; your intestines may become "lazy" if they get used to them.
  • Learn healthy ways to manage stress. If necessary, consult a psychologist to help you implement techniques to manage stress and anxiety.

These recommendations can help you improve and/or prevent the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, remember it's important to consult your doctor if symptoms do not improve, in which case it may be necessary to add a medication to your treatment.


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