7 Tips for Avoiding IBS Flare-Ups

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  • You’re in Control

    You’re in Control

    No one wants to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but if you take some preventive measures, you may be able to avoid it. Stress, worry, anxiety, and eating and drinking the wrong things can cause digestive problems. You can find long-term solutions by making some simple changes in how you respond to stress and paying attention to your diet, nutrition, and lifestyle. 

    Click through the slideshow to learn seven tips on what to incorporate and what to avoid.

  • Tip 1: Deal with Stress

    Tip 1: Deal with Stress

    Stress-related symptoms—like abdominal pain and bloating—occur more often and more intensely in people with IBS. Managing the stress in your life is important in avoiding flare-ups.

    There are several effective methods for stress management that can improve IBS symptoms, including deep breathing. The secret is to breathe from your diaphragm, not your chest, in order to relax your abdominal muscles. According to the Mayo Clinic, doing so can lead to more regular bowel activity (Mayo Clinic, 2011).

  • Tip 2: Relax Progressively

    Tip 2: Relax Progressively

    Another stress soother is called progressive relaxation. Relaxing the muscles in your body can help alleviate an upset stomach. To use this form of relaxation, start by tensing and then relaxing the muscles in your feet. Then move your way up through your calves, thighs, abdomen, arms, and each main muscle group in your body, ending with your face and scalp. Concentrate on releasing all of the tension in each body part as you go.

  • Tips 3 and 4: Use Counseling and Biofeedback

    Tips 3 and 4: Use Counseling and Biofeedback

    Both man and machine can help you gain perspective on your life and handle stress better as a result. In counseling, a psychiatrist aids you in beating stress by examining how you respond to life events, and guiding you in choosing more effective responses.

    In biofeedback, a machine helps slow your heart rate and reduce muscle tension, while teaching you how to make these changes happen yourself.

  • Tip 5: Find More Fiber

    Tip 5: Find More Fiber

    In addition to stress management techniques, tweaking your diet can also help prevent IBS. One of the most common ways is to incorporate more fiber into your meals.

    However, while dietary fiber can ease some gastrointestinal symptoms (like constipation), it can make other symptoms worse (like gas and cramping). To minimize potential problems, try a gradual increase of fiber over the course of a few weeks.

  • Tip 6: Steer Clear of These Foods

    Tip 6: Steer Clear of These Foods

    Certain foods are known to exacerbate IBS symptoms. Watch what makes your own symptoms worse, and avoid those products. Some common culprits include:

    • chocolate
    • sugar-free sweeteners (such as sorbitol or mannitol)
    • cauliflower
    • broccoli
    • cabbage
    • beans
    • dairy products

    When it comes to dairy, you can try substituting yogurt for milk, or decreasing the quantity of dairy products you consume. Other things that might work are breaking down lactose with an enzyme product, or combining dairy with other foods.

  • Tip 7: Drink Right

    Tip 7: Drink Right

    While drinking enough fluids each day helps IBS symptoms, not all fluids have the same effect on your stomach. Water soothes stomach distress, but several other beverages can cause problems, including:

    • alcoholic drinks
    • coffee, tea, and other caffeinated drinks
    • carbonated drinks like soda

    Alcohol and drinks with caffeine can make diarrhea worse. Soda and other drinks with carbonation can cause gas.

  • Making a Difference

    Making a Difference

    While these seven tips may not always bring instant relief, they can result in long-term solutions over time. Try different techniques to ease your stress and improve your diet to make it more resistant to IBS symptoms. You can help to control your condition by making healthy choices.

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