Food is a major culprit when it comes to causing IBS symptoms, but did you know it is more than just food that could cause an IBS flare-up?
IBS can be triggered by many different factors and it’s a good idea to know what to look out for so you can identify what has caused your symptoms and learn to manage them.
Check out these 5 IBS triggers that aren’t food.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Our guts and brain are closely linked, and when you feel stressed or anxious that is reflected with some painful gastro symptoms. When you are stressed your body produces more cortisol which affects your digestive system. Annoyingly, not only are our lifestyles pretty stressful and anxiety-inducing these days, but just having IBS is a stressful experience!
Learning to manage your stress and anxiety can help with managing your IBS symptoms. You don’t need to rid yourself of all stress and anxiety, which is not a realistic goal and probably impossible. Instead, focus on ways to lower the stress you are feeling and identify areas in your life where stress is the worst. Try simple breathing exercises, do some gentle exercises like going for a a walk, or talk to a friend as an easy way to ease anxiety and reduce the cortisol in your body.
If you have periods you’ve probably felt the change in your hormones throughout the month and these hormones can affect how your digestive system works. You are likely to experience your IBS getting a bit worse during your period.
70% of the UK population has received a prescription from their doctor at one time or another. If you have IBS and are currently taking medication it may be the reason you are going through a flare-up. Many medications won’t affect your digestive system but ones to look out for are antibiotics, some antidepressants, and medications containing sorbitol.
With a medication like antibiotics, you can try a probiotic to help improve the good bacteria in your gut. However, before trying anything, always check with your doctor first, and if your medication is causing you consistent flare-ups, have a chat with them and see what they can do to help.
4. Lack of Sleep
We could probably all do with more sleep after too many late-night Netflix binges or replying to work emails late into the night, but a bad night’s sleep could be the reason you are having IBS symptoms. Poor sleep leads to poor digestion by reducing the production of melatonin (which has a protective effect on the gut), increasing stress, and affecting your gut microbiome. If you want to reduce IBS symptoms, aiming for a good night’s sleep is a good way to go.
5. Not Moving Enough
Exercise is important for our overall health, but it also plays an important role in keeping our guts healthy. If you have a sedentary lifestyle e.g you work in an office and don’t move much throughout the day you are at risk of poor digestive health. You don’t need to do all or nothing, try aiming to incorporate a walk into your day or taking a swim after work to make sure your gut stays healthy.
For some people intense, high-impact exercise can make IBS worse. Start small and see how you feel when starting your exercise journey.
By taking a holistic approach and being aware of what lifestyle factors can contribute to IBS you’ll have more tools to manage your symptoms. IBS is caused by more than what you eat! Implement small changes into your routine and see what helps.