Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. Symptoms include diarrhea and urgency to urinate. Constipation can also be just as disruptive and uncomfortable as diarrhea. It can be uncomfortable and painful to feel backed up, and it can prevent you from living your best life. However, “there are many ways to find relief through medicines, dietary changes, and behavioral changes that all complement each other,” says Dr. Ram Chandra Soni, the best gastroenterologist in Faridabad.
When you feel bloated and backed up, you might reach for a laxative. However, treatment guidelines suggest sparingly using laxatives. Laxatives are not effective in treating symptoms of IBS in those who suffer from constipation (IBS-C).
According to Dr. Ram Chandra Soni, long-term use of over-the-counter laxatives can also lead to dependency (which means you have to take higher and higher doses to achieve stools), as well as decrease the colon’s ability to contract, which only makes constipation worse.
“We must treat the cause, not just the symptoms.”. Giving laxatives is not the answer. Diarrhea is not a remedy for constipation.”
Here are four diet and lifestyle strategies you can use to ease constipation due to IBS without resorting to laxatives.
1. Be active to avoid constipation.
We know that exercise improves our moods and our health in general – and a regimen of moderate exercise has been shown to ease IBS symptoms, including constipation.
By speeding up the time it takes food to move through your large intestine, your body absorbs less water from your stool, making it easier to pass.
A wide range of exercises, from yoga to walking to mountaineering, significantly improved symptoms of IBS.
The more steps people with IBS took per day, the less severe their symptoms including constipation were.
2. Eat the right kind of fiber.
People with IBS are often recommended to consume fiber. However, not all fiber is created equal.
Dr. Ram Chandra Soni recommends soluble, but not insoluble, fiber to reduce IBS symptoms, noting that this type of fiber might be especially helpful for patients with IBS-C.
As soluble fibers dissolve in water, they pull water into the stool and form a gel-like substance that helps move contents down the digestive tract.
Indoluble fibre, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water, so it stays intact as it passes through the digestive tract.
Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, avocados, and Brussels sprouts contain soluble fiber. Choosing these foods more often can help ensure that stools are soft and pass painlessly and easily.
Adding more fiber to your diet at first may cause bloating and gas. To help your body adjust to more fiber, adding these foods little by little may be the best strategy.
Psyllium (the main ingredient in the fiber supplement Metamucil) is rich in soluble fiber. You may want to start with a teaspoon a day and then increase.
If you want to see a benefit, you need to eat 20 to 30 grams of soluble fiber per day. But go slowly at first, because you need to build up a tolerance for it.”
3. Drink some peppermint tea
Peppermint has long been touted as a home remedy for digestive issues and other ailments. In the case of IBS, there is now some real science behind the claims.
Peppermint relieves abdominal pain and IBS symptoms.
4. Stay Hydrated
Everyone needs to drink water, but if you have IBS symptoms skewed toward constipation, it is especially important to drink water since it aids digestion.
Dehydration will cause your intestines to draw moisture from your stool. This can cause or worsen constipation by making your stool harder and drier.
Stay hydrated throughout the day and especially before, during, and after exercising. Caffeine-containing drinks and alcohol, which can dehydrate you, should also be limited.