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Gut Health: Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Updated: Jan 23

There is no cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This common gastrointestinal disorder has affected nearly 430,000 Malaysians, according to Dr. Radzi, Chairman of the Digestive Health Advisory Board (DHAB). The symptoms of IBS can be very unpleasant and embarrassing, which can significantly disrupt one's social functions and normal life. However, with the right treatment and early prevention measures, individuals can manage its symptoms before it gets any worse!

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the large intestine. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease and other bowel conditions, IBS is a distinct condition. It is characterized by a group of intestinal symptoms that occur together. While the exact cause of IBS remains unknown, experts believed that it resulted from a combination of factors, including changes in the gut microbiome, genetics, and environmental factors. The severity of symptoms may vary in intensity and duration from one individual to another.

Signs & Symptoms include:

Home Remedies for IBS

There are certain home remedies or lifestyle changes that may help to reduce the risk of developing IBS without the use of medication. These remedies include:

  • Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fiber and low in fat can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of IBS. It is important to be mindful of certain food or beverages that could trigger IBS symptoms such as deep-fried or spicy food and beverages that contain caffeine.

  • Probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented food like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. They can help improve gut health as well as relieve gas and bloating symptoms by balancing the gut microbiome.

  • Drinking plenty of water: Staying hydrated can also help prevent constipation and keep your bowel movements regular. Eventually, your stool will be soft and easy to pass!

  • Minimizing stress levels: Healthcare professionals often refer to our gut health as a “gut brain connection”. Stress can have a significant impact on our mental health, potentially leading to disorders such as anxiety, depression, and IBS symptoms.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise such as running or cycling can help keep your gut microbiome healthy and improve irregular bowel movements. Plus, it also boosts your heart health too!

In A Nutshell

IBS symptoms will present itself differently in different people. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but the condition has been linked with certain food and mood disorders. It is important to track your flare-ups to help understand your triggers.

If you have symptoms lasting longer than a few days and or it has become a common occurrence, speak to your doctor. You should also speak to your doctor if you experience serious symptoms such as rectal bleeding, persistent pain from passing gas or bowel movement, sudden weight loss, decreased appetite, and nausea or vomiting. These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition such as colon cancer.

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