Changing a few habits can go a long way in easing the discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome.
Some medical conditions can be managed most effectively by working on habits. That is true for those with irritable bowel syndrome (a common gastrointestinal condition). To ease discomfort, take these steps:
Keep a diary. Write down a detailed description of everything you eat -- meals and snacks. Jot down the time you eat, as well. Note the length, quality and severity of any IBS symptoms as they occur. Review the diary after several weeks to see if you can identify foods that triggered symptoms. Common items that aggravate IBS include fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine. Products that are sweetened withsorbitol can be problematic, too.
Make mealtime relaxing. Many of us often eat on the run, gulping down fast food at our desks or in our cars. Give your gut a break. Try to schedule your meals at consistent timesthroughout the day, and aim to eat slowly and enjoy the meal. This gives your system a chance to work on digestion in a relaxed fashion.
Go with fiber. Most Americans don't eat enough fiber, which is a good "regulator" for the intestinal tract. It keeps peristalsis (the movement through the intestinal tract) more predictable, which, in turn, can help with IBS symptoms.
Don't forget the water. If your water intake is inadequate, IBS symptoms can be made worse. Try to drink at least 12 ounces of water with each meal and 12 ounces between meals.
Get active. Regular exercise promotes peristalsis. A daily walk really helps to maintain a healthy intestinal tract.
Remember when it comes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it's not about what you eat, it's about an entire host of things. So if you want to do better, you have to improve them all.
For the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
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