Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Why You Feel Terrible After Certain Foods
If you’re here reading this, you’re probably looking for answers to why you feel terrible after eating certain foods. Trust me, I can relate. Right now, I live on a restricted diet and can’t eat foods people my age eat freely. There’s beans, milk, yogurt, vegetables, spices, and a bunch of other foods. Make no mistake, I can eat them if I want to, but the resulting gaseous efflux could be weaponized for chemical warfare ?amongst other consequences.
The name ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome‘ may sound strange to you but trust me, it’s a problem that affects so many people in the world today and they have no idea what it is. Research shows that 10 to 15 percent of the adult population suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms in the United States, yet only 5 to 7 percent of adults have been diagnosed with the disease. People often assume it’s regular diarrhea or constipation, even though diarrhea and constipation are actually associated symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome. So what is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, what are the symptoms of the condition? And what can you do to prevent it? Stick around to find out.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon) commonly causing cramping, recurrent abdominal pains, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. All these really annoying symptoms are as a result of changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying damage to the tissue. Even though these symptoms can make you feel like your insides are being torn to shreds, Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t damage your bowel tissue or increase your risk of cancer. Research shows that just a few people with Irritable Bowel Disease have extreme symptoms that can be fatal. Some people can control their symptoms by completely changing their eating habits, way of life, and anxiety.
If you can relate to the image above after a tasty meal of Beans Porridge, I bet you already know what this is all about. You must have also discovered by now that the symptoms are triggered by certain things you eat or do, not just beans.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Causes
The causes of irritable bowel syndrome are not really clear, but a variety of factors contribute to triggering the symptoms. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. That’s what happens in the body of ‘normal people‘. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, producing awful gas, causing bloating, and diarrhea. The opposite could occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. In summary, you’re going to have a really bad day after that beans porridge ? ?.
Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system may also play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea, or constipation. I hope I’m not boring you with all these sciencey talks.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Triggers
You must have noticed that whenever you enjoy a meal containing any of the above foods, your body seems to always reject it. It’s like something in the food irritates the epithelial lining of the intestine and it starts with bloating, pain, gas… then… You know the rest. Just like most disorders, triggers for irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. Stimuli that don’t trouble other people can trigger side effects in those with irritable bowel syndrome. However, not everyone with the condition responds to the same stimuli.
Some people have occasional symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but you’re more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome if you:
- Are young. Bad news young people, irritable bowel syndrome tends to occur frequently in people under the age of 45.
- Are female. Overall, about twice as many women as men have the condition.
- Have a family history of irritable bowel syndrome. Studies suggest that people who have a family member with irritable bowel syndrome may be at increased risk of the condition. The influence of family history on irritable bowel syndrome risk may be related to genes, shared factors in a family’s environment, or both.
- Have a mental health problem. Anxiety, depression, a personality disorder, and a history of childhood sexual abuse are risk factors. For women, domestic abuse may be a risk factor as well.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment and Management
Because it’s not clear what really causes irritable bowel syndrome, available treatment focuses on providing relief for individual symptoms so that you don’t go around embarrassing yourself. In most cases, you can successfully control mild symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by learning to manage stress and making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
- Eliminating high-gas foods. If you’re constantly bloating and passing unusual gas, you should cut out foods like Beans, carbonated beverages, vegetables— especially cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower — and raw fruits.
- Eliminating gluten. Research shows that some people with irritable bowel syndrome report improvement in diarrhea symptoms if they stop eating gluten (wheat, barley, and rye). This recommendation remains controversial, and the evidence is not clear.
- Fiber supplements. Taking fiber supplements, such as psyllium (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel), with fluids may help control constipation. If fiber doesn’t help symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an osmotic laxative such as milk of magnesia or polyethylene glycol.
- Anti-diarrheal Medications. Over-the-counter medications, such as loperamide (Imodium), can help control diarrhea. Some people will benefit from medications called bile acid binders, such as cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid), or colesevelam (Welchol), but these can lead to bloating. Metronidazole, marketed under the brand name Flagyl among others used either alone or with other antibiotics may also be effective in IBS control.
- Antibiotics. Some people whose symptoms are due to an overgrowth of bacteria in their intestines may benefit from antibiotic treatment. Those with symptoms of diarrhea have benefited from rifaximin (Xifaxan), but more research is needed.
- Counseling. You may benefit from counseling if you have depression or if stress tends to worsen your symptoms.
You Could Change Your Lifestyle
In many cases, simple changes in your lifestyle can provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome disease. Although your body may not respond immediately to these changes, your goal is to find long-term solutions and not quick fixes.
- Avoid Problem Foods. If certain foods make your symptoms worse, don’t eat them. It may seem like torture to watch your friends eat Ice cream and drink yogurt (no one envies beans lovers), but you’re actually doing yourself a lot of good. These foods to stay away from may include beans, alcohol, chocolate; caffeinated beverages such as coffee and sodas; medications that contain caffeine, dairy products, and sugar-free sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol. If gas is a problem for you, foods that might worsen your symptoms include beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Fatty foods also may be a problem for some people. Chewing gum or drinking through a straw can lead to swallowing air, causing more gas.
- Eat at Regular Times. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat about the same time each day to help regulate bowel function. If you have diarrhea, you may find that eating small, frequent meals make you feel better. But if you’re constipated, eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods should help move food through your intestines efficiently. Also eating too close to bedtime can trigger irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and cause Insomnia or sleeplessness.
- Take care of Dairy Products. If you’re lactose intolerant (just like me ?), try substituting yogurt for lactose-free milk. Consuming small amounts of milk products or combining them with other foods can also help. In some cases, though, you may need to stop eating dairy foods completely. If so, be sure to get enough protein, calcium, and B vitamins from other sources.
- Drink Plenty of Liquids. Try to drink plenty of fluids every day. Water is the best way to hydrate. Alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine stimulate your intestines and can make diarrhea worse, and carbonated drinks can produce gas.
- Exercise Regularly. Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal contractions of your intestines, and can help you feel better about yourself. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly, then gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Use Anti-diarrheal Medications and Laxatives with Caution. If you try over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, such as Imodium or Kaopectate, use the lowest dose that helps. Imodium may be helpful if taken 20 to 30 minutes before eating, especially if you know that the food planned for your meal is likely to cause diarrhea. In the long run, these medications can cause problems if you don’t use them correctly.
So there you have it, one possible reason why you feel terrible after eating certain foods. If you have any questions about them, it’s better you pay a visit to your doctor or share your thoughts in our newly launched discussion forum and a team of health professionals will attend to you.
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