It is well known that reducing intake of FODMAPs diet is known to be an effective way of managing IBS. But, did you know that other things can trigger your symptoms as well? Here are the top four other things that could be contributing to your symptoms.
We all get stressed sometimes, but for people with IBS, stress is a common trigger for worsening of symptoms. It’s common to feel like symptoms are appearing because of the worry about getting symptoms! How to manage? Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and utilising stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and/or breathing exercises can make it all easier to handle. Well managed stress is likely to result in better managed IBS.
2. Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep ties in with stress; being tired can result in much higher stress levels. Fatigue can also have an impact on ability to include physical activity, mood, and what types of food you choose; all of course, having an impact on IBS symptoms. Aim to get 7-9 hours sleep each night to allow for adequate rest.
3. Coffee, Fatty Foods, Spicy foods
Whilst coffee, fatty foods and spicy foods (such as chilli) are low FODMAP, many people find that consumption exacerbates symptoms. Spicy foods may increase transit time, as does caffeine. Whilst fatty foods can seem to cause either constipation or diarrhoea.
If any of these are triggers for you, try flavouring foods with other herbs and spices, and minimimising coffee and fat intake.
4. Natural food chemicals
The foods we eat all contain natural food chemicals. The most common are salicylates and amines. These are naturally occurring (not due to pesticide use). In susceptible individuals, they can cause symptoms of IBS, such as bloating, wind, pain, constipation and diarrhoea… along with a whole host of other symptoms, such as migraines, skin rashes, itchy skin, mood changes, asthma and hayfever.
Similar to FODMAPs, food chemical intolerance comes down to a dose response; as long as your consumption of these chemicals stays below your threshold, symptoms stay under control. It is only when tolerance levels are exceeded that symptoms are exacerbated.
If you’ve been struggling to manage your uncomfortable gut symptoms, it is a good idea to get some help from a health professional who specialises in the area, as determining triggers can be tricky.
About the author – Chloe McLeod, Dietitian
Chloe McLeod is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Sports Dietitian. Her key areas of specialty are in IBS and food intolerance, along with sports nutrition and nutrition for arthritis and inflammatory joint disease. Chloe is director of the online program ‘The FODMAP Challenge’, which is an online program to assist individuals with determining triggers of IBS. If you’d like to learn more about FODMAPs, head here. Subscribe here to download a free list of high and low FODMAP foods, and for weekly updates on all things gut health! You can follow Chloe on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.