Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is the most common digestive disorder, affecting one in five people. Women are more affected by this condition than men and it is a functional disorder, meaning no structural abnormalities can be seen on x-rays, blood tests etc.
Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pains and cramping, bloating, alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation, and increased passing of wind.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown and it is therefore not possible to prevent it from developing. However, it is believed that certain things can trigger attacks and these should be avoided to alleviate symptoms. Some factors believed to trigger attacks include stress, a lack of dietary fibre, irregular mealtimes and food intolerances. It is also possible that bad food combination could cause putrefaction of the food in the gut and thus lead to bouts of IBS.
A natural remedy widely used to alleviate the symptoms of IBS is peppermint oil. This is thought to reduce abdominal pain and excess gas, possibly by blocking the movement of calcium into muscles in the intestine, thus easing muscle contractions there.
It is found that simple lifestyle changes can have significant effects on the severity of IBS and can even prevent it.
Some of these changes include:
- Increasing the amount of dietary fibre in the diet
- Proper food combination
- Reducing caffeine and high-sugar foods from the diet
- Regular exercise
- Reducing stress by finding time to relax