What is IBS?
First off, let’s take a look at what IBS is. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a relatively common, long-term condition of the digestive system. The symptoms can vary between individuals and will affect some more severely than others. It can cause stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and even constipation. These symptoms can come and go in periods, sometimes lasting a few days to a few months at a time. In some cases symptoms can occur during times of stress or after eating certain foods.
IBS is thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life, and it usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men and while the condition is often life-long, it can improve over several years, and a lot of this improvement is down to yourself and how you start to look after the digestive system.
Your diet and IBS
While there is no cure that fits all, it is possible to manage IBS symptoms with certain lifestyle changes. Making appropriate changes to your diet and having an increased understanding and awareness of this condition can help. The best foods for IBS are those that are relaxing on the digestive system. In most case it will involve an individual process of elimination to find out what foods are your own IBS triggers. If you suffer from IBS, foods like grains, milk and fried foods should all be avoided.
Fibre and IBS
Many experts recommend an appropriate source of fibre in your diet to be important in cases of IBS. It is however all about getting the right sort of fibre as insoluble fibre which can be found in some wholegrains can sometimes aggravate things like diarrhoea and you should aim to cut down on these. It may also help to avoid the skin and pips from fruit and vegetables. Aim to eat more soluble fibre like that contained in many fruit and vegetables as the can help to relieve things like constipation, and soluble fibre is good for your stools and digestive system.
If you have constipation as a symptom, increasing the amount of increasing your fibre intake should be a gradual process. Include a variety of fibres and an adequate fluid intake of at least 1.5 litres per day. Your main fluid source should be water, but teas and juices may be suitable in some patients.
Flaxseed and IBS
Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, two things that really help your digestive system and your battle with IBS. The fibre in flaxseed is found primarily in the seed coat and eating the right amount of this fibre on a daily basis will ensure bowel regularity. People use flaxseed for many conditions related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including ongoing constipation and diarrhoea, and this makes it suitable to include in an IBS diet. The healthy oils in flaxseed also help your digestive system by lubricating it and making it easier to pass through the system.
Adding flaxseed to your favourite foods
Sprinkling milled flaxseed into your meals (it can be added to most foods without impacting the flavour!) is a great way of getting a quick and easy fibre boost in your diet. Flaxseed is high in Fibre, providing 7.11g of Fibre per 30g serving.
For more flaxseed recipe ideas visit our recipe section and get inspired for breakfast, lunch and dinner.