Management of IBS

The key to well-being when you have IBS is to manage your digestive health well. Optimize your diet and eliminate problem foods may be a good start to alleviating your IBS symptoms.

Managing your IBS is a matter of:

Identifying problem foods
Working with a dietician
Modifying your lifestyle

Learn all you can about IBS and improve the quality of your life.


Your digestive system is a complex series of functions, processes and sensory stimulation. Like all functioning systems, it is prone to problematic issues and disruptions. If IBS is your dysfunction, then you’ll be better able to deal it by understanding it better.

Keeping up on new developments in digestive health related to IBS is the best way to manage IBS. See your doctor, your dietitian or healthcare provider regularly to monitor symptoms and identify any new shifts in triggers. Enlist the support and understanding of family and friends, co-workers and employers. By educating them on the nature of your unique symptoms you can alleviate any stigma that may exist about having IBS. Maintain a strong and positive attitude. It will help you through a long and sometimes emotionally challenging process.

The Right Diet for You

There is an investigative process of identifying triggers in food and developing a diet plan that will work for you. By following it, you can reduce the number of flares you experience and alleviate symptoms when they do occur.

Your bowel will react to the foods you eat as well as when you eat. It’s important to eat regularly even though you may not feel like it. A few small meals throughout the day will help regulate your digestive system and reduce bathroom visits.

Discover Symptom Causes with Journaling

Keep a log of when and what you eat and record any flares experienced following the meal. This will help you narrow down your food triggers. Each individual will have unique food triggers and even if it’s a long process, it’s important to persevere. Avoid:

Food Journal
  • Fatty foods
  • Food additives such as Monosodium glutamate
  • Large quantities of fluids with meals
  • Raw vegetables – cook them instead
  • High carbohydrate foods
If you suffer mostly with IBS-D with recurring diarrhea, avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

A Dietician Can Help You Create Better Dietary Habits and Treatment Plan

Consult a registered dietitian to help you formulate an appropriate diet. By cutting out certain triggers foods, you may be missing some necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals. A dietitian can help you select alternate sources of non-triggers foods to replace these.

Some IBS patients experience problematic extra sensitivity to the building and passage of gas, causing pain and discomfort. This can be alleviated somewhat by avoiding the ingestion of air through chewing gum, eating quickly, washing down food with large quantities of liquids, sipping hot drinks and eating gas producing foods such as broccoli, cabbage and beans. Limit your intake of low-calorie sweeteners as they can cause gas, abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea. Avoid alcohol sugars especially (any sweetener ending in "itol").

Dairy Products
Some IBS patients may find taking gas reducing medications will help. Normally, you would not have to eliminate all gas producing foods completely but simply reduce the amount you consume. These foods are still a good source of nutrients and fiber which your body needs.

Lactose intolerance is a common factor in IBS. Lactose is the sugar in milk which some people have difficulty processing. The body requires an enzyme called lactase to digest milk properly. If your system does not produce this natural enzyme, it will not digest the lactose and in turn you will suffer excess gas and bloating. Lactase supplements are readily available and may be a good option for IBS patients who want to continue to drink milk and consume milk products.

Including Fiber in your Diet

Fiber is sometimes problematic to IBS sufferers but it is a necessary dietary component for a healthy digestive system. Start with small amounts and increase fiber content as your system adapts to it. You may wish to introduce a fiber supplement such as Benefiber®, Metamucil® or other similar product. Check the fiber content in food and the type of fiber.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and slows the process of elimination of the bowel and is helpful for IBS-D patients with diarrhea.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and increases stool bulk, accelerating transit time and relieving constipation. This fiber should be the choice for the IBS-C patient.

Soluble Fiber

There are two types of soluble fiber – pectins and gums
  • Pectins are found in apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and strawberries
  • Gums are found in cabbage, cauliflower, peas, potatoes, oats, barley, lentils, dried peas and beans

Insoluble Fiber

There are three types of insoluble fiber – lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose.
  • Lignin is found in vegetables
  • Cellulose fiber is found in whole grains
  • Hemicellulose is found in cereal grains

It is always important to introduce these carefully into your diet in small amounts and increase as symptoms remain relatively controlled. If you are having difficulty in establishing a good balance, consult your dietitian or doctor.


We have all heard of our “central” nervous system. It controls our 5 senses and communicates when we feel pain, we are frightened, tired, hungry, cold or hot. It tells our limbs to move, our eyes to open and close, our fingers to pick up things. It is basically our body’s control centre.

Your gut has its own nervous system called the “enteric nervous system”. It regulates the digestion and processing of the foods we ingest. Our enteric nervous system communicates with the central nervous system and tells it how it feels. If you are feeling distressed, anxious or depressed, it may affect your bowel system causing symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation or even the urgency to empty your bowel.

It is important to control these reactions by practicing relaxing techniques and not anticipating negative outcomes. Exercise and rest is key to reducing flares.

  • Take long walks with a friend, neighbour, family member
  • Sit in a quiet, peaceful room until the anxiety subsides
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Take naps whenever you feel tired
  • Surround yourself with things you love that are calming
  • Listen to music
  • Read
  • Do deep breathing exercises
  • Take up a hobby to occupy your mind
  • Consult a psychologist to help you cope with anxiety if you feel it is beyond your control
Medical research continues to evaluate methods of treatment to help IBS patients. Some IBS cases may require treatment with medications and your physician may prescribe products or recommend supplements to regulate your symptoms. Medications such as pinaverium bromide and trimebutine maleate are designed to address motility issues such as the contraction process of the bowel and help synchronize the muscle movement of the bowel. Pinaverium bromide is particularly helpful in reducing bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Trimebutine maleate specifically slows the movement of the bowel.

IBS-D patients find occasional use of anti-diarrheal products such as Imodium® to be helpful in adjusting stool consistency and work by binding with the water in your intestines and regulating transit time.

IBS-C patients may try bran cereals, ispagula husk, psyllium seed, guar gum and inulin. Before adding these to your diet, consult your doctor and easy these into your diet to see how your system will react. Remember to drink water with them.
IBS-A patients will need to go easy on either solution as it may trigger extremes in bowel reaction. A balanced diet should still be your first line of defense.

Other medications could offer some symptom improvement. Pancreatic enzymes will work on some patients by improving digestion. Bile salt binders help with diarrhea. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines may help by allowing the enteric nervous system to relax and relieve pain. These could also help you sleep.

Additional Help Using Probiotics

There is growing evidence of the benefits of taking probiotics. This option is being explored for several digestive system disorders. It has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate symptoms of IBS.

Probiotics are living microorganisms (good bacteria) that exist naturally in the human gut and are essential in normal gastrointestinal functions. Probiotics are commonly referred to as gut flora. Research shows that certain chronic intestinal disorders are due to an imbalance in good and bad bacteria in the gut. Probiotics re-establish a balance in your gastrointestinal eco system. These are quickly becoming the common go-to solution to replace antibiotics.


Clinically Proven Products that the Quality you Need

Many marketed products such as yogurt and other supplements may contain a certain amount of probiotics but often do not provide adequate potency of probiotics to deliver sufficient and substantial benefits to IBS patients. However, there are some clinically-tested and proven probiotic products that can be an effective addition to IBS management. The key matter is in selecting a product that not only provides potency but also survives stomach acids in your gut. Most commercial products’ potency is destroyed shortly after ingestion.

Contains Probiotic

The probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299v has had extensive clinical testing and was proven to relieve bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. This strain of probiotic is being investigated for other potential benefits in other health concerns such as recovery from food poisoning, viral infections, digestive issues, surgery recovery, immune system support and other health issues. Lactobacillus reuteri has also been found effective for reducing the effects of colic in infants.

Research continues in the understanding of IBS, what causes the symptoms and possible innovative therapies to improve quality of live for sufferers of this sometimes debilitating disorder.