There’s nothing like the sudden onset of diarrhea or painful gas to ruin an evening. And if these symptoms become a regular occurrence, you may even start to miss out on fun plans—from restaurant dinners to family gatherings. If you’ve started to fear food because you’re so overwhelmed by discomfort, it’s time to take back control.
Women and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
Women’s bodies are powerful and capable of amazing feats, but they’re also more prone to chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than their male counterparts. These GI-tract problems often result in diarrhea or hard stools, bloating and uncomfortable gas. When they’re recurring, they make eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom a real pain.
Thankfully, some straightforward lifestyle changes help most people. If you’re ready to make consistent choices that make a difference in your day-to-day life, you might want to:
1. Reassess your dietary choices.
It’s no surprise that what you eat and drink is going to have the biggest effect on your digestion of any lifestyle change. If you suffer from IBS or related symptoms (think: constipation, diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating), you may want to try a low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet. Research shows that the small intestine has trouble digesting foods that fit into these categories, which include high-lactose dairy, wheat, beans and lentils, certain fruits and vegetables and many sweeteners. Cutting down on these foods may improve your digestive issues.
It’s also a smart idea to get lots of fibre in your diet, drink more water and take the time to chew your food.
2. Support your GI tract with probiotics.
A type of beneficial bacteria, probiotics act within the gut to break down the hard-to-digest fibres that cause gas and bloating. They may also improve discomfort and ease the symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. You can eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and miso to increase your probiotic consumption, or you can take one capsule per day of a probiotic such as Integris 30 Billion. This supplement features Lactobacillus plantarum (LP299V®), a unique strain of probiotic that addresses gas and bloating while supporting daily abdominal comfort and helping to balance the digestive tract—even for super-sensitive IBS sufferers.Photo Credit: Sisu
3. Manage stress.
Your mind and body are connected—and so are your brain and gut. That means that the hormones created when you’re stressed out can have a direct effect on your digestion. Plus, stress can trigger worse bouts of bloating and gas in people with IBS. To manage your stress levels and keep calm and cool, you may want to try meditation, acupuncture, yoga or even cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These wellbeing practices are good for your mind, but they could help your gut, too.