‘IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is not something you should self-diagnose but,
if your doctor confirms it, several supplements can help,’ says Dr. Sarah
Brewer. A probiotic supplement can be beneficial, as these ‘friendly’ digestive
bacteria help suppress the growth of gas-forming bacteria and can improve
symptoms caused by abnormal fermentation in the large bowel.
Peppermint oil is another effective treatment, with data from 12 trials,
involving almost 600 people, showing it to be more effective than prescribed
antispasmodic drugs. Globe artichoke supplements also improve IBS
symptoms, with over two thirds of people noticing a benefit within ten days.
Many people find aloe vera juice helpful, while psyllium fibre can improve
diarrhoea and constipation.
‘There are several reasons why exercise can help IBS sufferers manage their
condition,’ says Dean Hodgkin, fitness expert at Ragdale Hall and Energie
Fitness (deanhodgkin.com). In the first instance it helps reduce stress, a well-
known trigger for IBS symptoms. The reason? Exercise helps boost levels of
the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. In addition, getting active stimulates
the pituitary gland to release endorphins - the body’s own ‘feel-good’
hormones - which are thought to have analgesic properties.
‘Less tangible benefits of exercise include weight management, social
interaction and a sense of achievement after completing a workout; all of
which can boost self-esteem,’ says Dean. Despite the current trend, give high
intensity interval training (HIIT) a miss and go for gentler activities such as
Pilates, power walking and swimming.
‘FODMAPs - short for ‘oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides
and polyols’ – found in many healthy foods such as veggies and fruit, as well
as insoluble fibres found in wholegrain cereals, are now thought to be the
biggest offenders in IBS,’ says nutrition expert Patsy Westcott.
draw water into the bowel and ferment, triggering the production of gases,
which in turn provoke wind, bloating, pain and discomfort. A low FODMAP diet
can bring relief within as short a time as week. Wheat or rye breads can
trigger symptoms because they are high in the FODMAP, fructans. Try spelt
and gluten-free breads instead.’ For a comprehensive list of FODMAPs,
download the Monash university Low FODMAP Diet App.