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About Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

By Srivathshan Nagarajan

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the colon (large intestine) that causes crampy abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. The symptoms of IBS can include:






6.Mucous in the stool



There are 3 different forms of IBS:


2.Constipation-predominant and,

3.Switching constipation and diarrhea

Some of the guidelines may help in improving the conditions of IBS; eating several smaller meals during the day, rather than three large ones (large meals may result in cramping and diarrhea). Additionally, it may be helpful to keep meals low in fat and high in carbohydrates such as whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables, and cereals. A low fat, high protein diet may also help with pain experienced after eating. Fiber which is soluble in nature has several benefits that may also reduce symptoms of IBS. Fiber may prevent spasms because it keeps the colon somewhat distended. It also absorbs water, which helps to keep stools soft rather than hard.

Initially switching to a high fiber diet may increase gas and bloating, but these will subside in a few weeks time as the body adjusts to these parameters.

Bloating can be decreased by reducing the intake of foods that cause intestinal Gas. Carbonated beverages (such as soda pop or sparkling water) are the major ones which lead to abound bloating and intestinal gas. Foods that may cause Intestinal gas include Bananas, Beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Garlic, Leeks, Nuts, Onions and Raisins. Foods high in soluble fiber include; Barley, Brown rice, Currants, Dried beans, Figs, French bread, Fresh peas, Oat Bran, Oatmeal, Pasta, Prunes, Ishagula (Psyllium husks),Raisins, Rice, Whole wheat bread, Soy etc. Supplements may be helpful in adding the necessary fiber to the diet. Soluble fiber supplements like Psyllium, Methylcellulose, and Polycarbophil can be taken on a daily basis as per the recommended dose. Psyllium can be taken every day to bulk up stool, making it easier to pass. Methylcellulose is a fiber that is non allergenic, since it is created from the cell wall of plants. It absorbs water to create a softer stool. Its better than Psyllium, as it is less likely to cause intestinal gas. Similar to methylcellulose, Polycarbophil is created from plants too, and is not absorbed by the body. It absorbs water in the intestinal tract and creates a bulkier and softer stool. Polycarbophil is less likely to cause bloating and can be used long term.

Last but not the least; please refrain from drinking Coffee, as Coffee is a known bowel irritant. The caffeine contained in coffee is bad for the digestive system. Caffeine speeds up every system in the body, including the colon, which can lead to diarrhea. Well, even decaffeinated coffee is not good for IBS patients as it contains acids that can increase stomach acid production, further triggering the symptoms of IBS.


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