Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects 60 million Americans and its specific cause is unknown. In some cases, there is a physiological cause such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, gastroenteritis, allergies, or an abnormality in the gastrointestinal tract. In others, problems within the digestive system are induced by diet and lifestyle.
With symptoms that include cramps, gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain, the condition can be triggered by a multitude of circumstances. Excessive stress, food sensitivity, hormone imbalance, alcohol or drug consumption, or another illness (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) can trigger IBS (1).
Fortunately, IBS is considered a condition rather than a disease.
The symptoms of IBS are unlikely to cause permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract—unlike colitis, cancer, or Crohn’s disease (2).
Recognizing the precursors of IBS episodes in your own body will help you to identify your personal triggers so you can avoid them.
To prevent flare-ups, care must be taken to stay well hydrated, alleviate stress, and get good quality sleep. If the condition becomes chronic, it’s a good idea to get tested for allergies.
There are things you can do on a regular basis to restore intestinal balance and lessen the severity of IBS episodes when they do occur.
Apple cider vinegar does wonders for the digestion. Its probiotic nature facilitates the proliferation of healthy bacteria. It is also an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the liver and kidneys (3). Just make sure the vinegar is raw (unpasteurized), unfiltered, and organic.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt are very effective in regulating digestion because they are probiotic. Probiotics have been shown to be safe and effective in treating IBS, reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the gut (4).