LIFE

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Eight Home Remedies To Relieve Discomfort

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Health is a tricky topic to bring up in conversation.

After all, if you’re dealing with something like arthritis or back pain, you may want to compare notes with friends, but when it comes to ailments that are more, um, delicate, you may feel reluctant to share all the details.

Of course, even the most embarrassing health topics are still important to discuss, as we saw with this guide to what different kinds of gas might mean.

That’s why we’re here today to talk about one of the least-discussed ailments around, one that more than 200,000 Americans suffer from every year.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, often called IBS, is an uncomfortable condition that affects the large intestine. It can cause diarrhea, cramps, bloating, and gassiness.

Naturally, all of that can be majorly detrimental to a happy, healthy lifestyle.

But because of the nature of IBS symptoms, there can be a conspiracy of silence around discussing ways to treat the condition. Well, we think it’s time to end it once and for all, and have a frank conversation about home treatments!

We’ve shared a few of our favorites below. Make sure to let us know of any we’ve missed in the comments!

IBS Remedy #1: Eat Small Meals

IBS Remedy #1: Eat Small Meals
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Here in the United States, we’ve pretty much all been raised with the idea that “three square meals” is the healthiest way to stay nourished.

For people, with IBS, however, it may be wiser to try eating five to six smaller meals a day, according to the University of Wisconsin.

The logic behind this is pretty simple; a big meal might overtax your digestive system, while several smaller meals will be more manageable.

By eating small meals, you reduce the likelihood of painful cramping and bloating in your large intestine.

IBS Remedy #2: Don't Skip Breakfast

IBS Remedy #2: Don't Skip Breakfast
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Of course, one age-old maxim still holds true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Skipping meals throws your metabolism off-kilter and causes additional grumbling in an already sensitive area.

More importantly, starting your day off with a healthy breakfast, like yogurt or oatmeal with berries, is important for establishing a good eating schedule.

Eating meals at roughly the same time every day keeps your metabolism humming along, and keeps digestive processes from stalling or slowing down.

IBS Remedy #3: Know What To Avoid

IBS Remedy #3: Know What To Avoid
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Of course, it’s not just when you eat that’s important.

It’s very important to keep an eye on what you’re putting in your system, and how it affects your body.

There are some obvious culprits, like greasy or fatty foods, which can mess with digestion.

You should also keep an eye on your own patterns, or triggers.

According to WebMD, common triggers include veggies like broccoli with a lot of insoluble fiber, dairy products, and carbonated drinks like seltzer and soda.

IBS Remedy #4: Switch To Decaf

IBS Remedy #4: Switch To Decaf
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If you’re a coffee drinker, you may have noticed that it makes you need to, well, go.

The caffeine in the average cup of joe is a strong stimulant, and it causes the muscles in and around your digestive system to contract.

All that movement stimulates the digestive system, and causes a strong urge to use the toilet in lots of people, according to this study.

Folks who suffer from IBS may want to consider switching to decaf, because all that caffeine stimulation can move things along too quickly, and may hamper your digestive abilities.

IBS Remedy #5: Relieve the Pressure

IBS Remedy #5: Relieve the Pressure
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In other words, don’t strain when you’re on the toilet.

People who suffer from IBS often suffer from “phantom urges,” or a strong urge to go number 2, without necessarily being ready.

Gassiness might trigger the urge, and it’s not helped by the frequent constipation and diarrhea involved in the condition.

Help alleviate the symptoms — and prevent new ones, like hemorrhoids, from emerging — by relaxing on the toilet, and not pushing your body to produce anything before it’s ready.

IBS Remedy #6: Take A Breath

IBS Remedy #6: Take A Breath
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Stress and anxiety can be major triggers for IBS.

That’s because, like caffeine, stress triggers the central nervous system, and causes all kinds of activity in the gut, as noted in this 2004 study.

Muscle contractions brought on by stress can majorly mess with the speed and efficiency of the digestive system.

Totally eliminating stress is no easy task, but taking 15 minutes to meditate or taking deep breaths could go a long way toward helping your body relax.

IBS Remedy #7: Get Moving

IBS Remedy #7: Get Moving
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Another great stress-reliever? Exercise!

Gentle exercise is a great way to calm down those intense adrenal stress responses in the body, because moving makes your body release “happy” chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

As an added bonus, exercise itself can improve digestive function.

This study from the University of Birmingham indicates that exercise can be especially helpful for people who mostly suffer from constipation.

IBS Remedy #8: Chew And Swallow

IBS Remedy #8: Chew And Swallow
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If your mom always told you to “chew and swallow” when you were a kid, it might be time to thank her for the advice!

Your mouth and teeth are the first step in the journey to complete digestion.

If you chew your food thoroughly when you first take a bite, you’ll get a lot of the work of breaking it down ahead of time.

That way, there’s less effort left for your stomach and intestines to worry about later.

Plus, you’ll get extra time to savor your meal!

If these tips and tricks for treating IBS sound useful to you, make sure to SHARE with friends and family who may be suffering in silence!