Doing these 4 things INCREASE your risk of IBS, plus healthy steps to follow instead

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risk-of-ibs(NaturalHealth365) Few things are less fun than “stomach issues.”  Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is one of the most common conditions that affects the gastrointestinal system and is believed to often be related to certain lifestyle choices.

Experts estimate that between 25 and 45 million people of all ages in the U.S. are affected, even children.  However, two out of three people with IBS are female although conventionally-trained physicians don’t know why that is or even what causes the condition, although some (simply) say there could be a “genetic” component.

IBS is NOT what most people would think

Many people think IBS is similar to chronic diarrhea.  While that can be a symptom, there’s more to it – and many more symptoms.  Some of these issues may surprise you.

Symptoms of IBS include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Changes in the frequency of bowel movements
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, or cramping related to having a bowel movement
  • Increased gas
  • Bowel movements that feel incomplete or difficult to pass
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Uncontrollably urgent bowel movements
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation

If you suspect you have IBS, you should see a healthcare professional.  Sometimes IBS symptoms can be confused with other abdominal symptoms or indicate a more serious condition.

Researchers have found that many people can control symptoms by making lifestyle changes.  Some behaviors and habits can actually exacerbate IBS symptoms so modifying those behaviors can bring relief.  These four habits are believed to increase a person’s risk of IBS, do you do any of them?

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If you do this, you could be increasing your risk of IBS

These four lifestyle choices have been shown to exacerbate IBS in many people.  Ceasing these behaviors has also been shown to relieve the symptoms of IBS, even when the condition is “genetic.”

You stay stressed out, have chronic tension, or regularly experience anxiety.  Stress is the cause of a number of health problems, including IBS.  You have has been told you have a “nervous stomach” and while that isn’t necessarily an actual medical term, it is very real.

Stress leads to anxiety which can cause the brain to overstimulate the gut.  The result?  IBS.

You are a smoker.  Yes, I know you’ve heard that smoking is bad for you.  It increases your risk for a number of health conditions like lung cancer, COPD, heart disease, dementia, and IBS.

And, yes, it can increase your risk of IBS or make it worse.

You don’t make food safety a priority.  According to government estimates, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick with food poisoning every year.  That’s around 48 million known foodborne illness cases, but many go unreported.

Research shows that people who experience food poisoning (infectious enteritis) increased their risk of IBS by four times compared to people who did not have food poisoning.

Your diet consists of a lot of ultra-processed foods.  These types of foods include microwaveable dinners, frozen pizza, and other heavily processed foods.  One of the main problems with these types of food is that they usually contain tons of sugar and sodium as well as a lot of preservatives and additives.

Many of these low quality food choices have been shown to lead to or exacerbate health problems.

Get back on track with these healthy habits

Making a few adjustments to your lifestyle choices can reduce your IBS symptoms and help you feel better.  Here are some practical ways to reduce your IBS symptoms.

Learn to manage your stress and take time to self-care with these tension tamers.  Find healthy ways to relieve and manage your stress.  Take a walk when you feel particularly anxious or meditate when tension creeps in.

Self-care is absolutely vital to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well – and the two are very connected.  There are many stress relief methods that don’t take up much of your time but can have a powerful impact on your mental well-being.

Kick your tobacco habit with these tried and true strategies.  Easier said than done, right?  Quitting smoking is no walk in the park.

It is hard and many people struggle for a long time.  Studies show that the average number of times a person attempts to quit until they are successful ranges from 6 to 20 – but it can be done so don’t give up.

Put these food safety tips into practice.  Learn about food safety and proper food handling to reduce your risk of IBS.  The World Health Organization published the Five Keys to Safer Food Manual with good information on basic food safety.

Add more whole foods to your diet and limit the processed stuff.  Eat less processed food and try incorporating more whole foods into your diet.  Add vegetables, whole grains, and beans to your diet and put the heavily processed foods aside for very rare occasions.

Look for foods that are more nutrient-dense – from the outer edges of the supermarket – and try preparing more meals at-home.  If you aren’t very kitchen savvy you may want to look into a meal kit subscription or get some cooking lessons.  There are several out there with very healthy options and very little kitchen commitment.

Bottom line: if you are living with IBS, making a few changes to certain behaviors can do wonders.  If you are skeptical, just try the changes for 30 days and see if you feel better or if your symptoms subside.

If you notice positive changes it may be time to consider making those adjustments permanent.  You deserve to live your best life but only you can make that happen.  Start today!

Sources for this article include:

Eating Well

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