The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing. Cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea are never fun. Yet there are several lifestyle changes and home remedies that you can try to provide some relief. Although everyone’s body is different, once you find remedies that work, you can try using them to prevent discomfort.
1. Changes to Your Diet
Some simple tweaks may help calm your symptoms. Sugary foods, sodas, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods may be bad for your digestion. Instead, eat whole, natural foods. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats found in salmon or nuts are better choices.
Be careful about getting too much fiber, including through fiber powders or drinks. There’s no proof these ease IBS-D symptoms.
Chew food well and take your time to help digest your meals. It’s better to let your teeth and saliva break down your food slowly than to wash it down with water or other drinks.
2. Regular Work out
For many people, exercise is a tried and true way to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety — especially when it’s done consistently. Anything that relieves stress can help with bowel discomfort by stimulating regular intestinal contractions. If you’re not used to exercising, be sure to start slow and work your way up. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
3. Herbs for IBS
Several herbs may relieve abdominal pain and bloating, and general symptoms of IBS:
- Ginger: is a plant that may reduce gas and bloating. The active ingredient, gingerol, has antibacterial, antiemetic, and sedative properties that may reduce pain and restore gut function. However, there is no current scientific explanation for how Ginger improves IBS symptoms and more research is needed.
- Aloe vera: Often sold as a juice, Aloe vera is thought to treat symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe vera are thought to reduce inflammation in the gut. There is mixed scientific evidence as to whether Aloe vera is effective, and the herb should be considered a complementary therapy.
Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can be beneficial to everyone, especially if you’re living with IBS. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders describes three relaxation techniques that have been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS. These techniques include:
- diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing
- progressive muscle relaxation
- visualization/positive imagery
5. Keep Your Stress in Check
Some natural ways to relax may help ease your IBS-D symptoms. Reducing stress with breathing exercises may also help calm down the gut nerves that are misfiring.
- Hypnotherapy and meditation. A trained therapist can teach you to focus on soothing images or thoughts. This can help you learn to relax your tight stomach muscles.
- Massage. This is a solid way to help you relax. A massage therapist can work on you in a day spa, and some can come to your home.
6. Eat more fiber
Fiber is a bit of a mixed bag for IBS sufferers. It helps ease some symptoms, including constipation, but can actually worsen other symptoms like cramping and gas. Still, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are recommended as an IBS treatment if taken gradually over several weeks.