Did you know you could have IBS & not even be aware of it? A few months ago I was getting really bogged down because I didn’t know why I was experiencing major bloating & stomach pain. So I decided to call my doctors and explain my symptoms of what I thought could be IBS. To cut a long story short, they were useless, so I decided to do my own research.
I’m not saying you should ignore your doctors advice, but I do think you should always listen to your body & do what you think is best for you. I knew that for myself, taking a prescription wasn’t a long term solution (or the cheapest option either) & I wanted to find a way to combat my IBS symptoms naturally.
After changing my diet to a mostly whole-food plant-based diet + taking pro-biotics, I had no IBS symptoms after 1-2 few weeks. I’ve managed to pretty much cure myself by making a few simple changes to my lifestyle.
What is IBS?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a common condition that affects the digestive system. The exact cause of IBS is unknown and dependant on the person, their diet, their lifestyle. There is no “cure” but slight lifestyle changes can eliminate your symptoms for good, because I did exactly that myself.
- IBS affects one in five of us, and 50% of people are undiagnosed.
- 10-15% worldwide population suffer from IBS.
- 2/3 of people affected by IBS are women.
- IBS can develop at any age, but the symptoms usually start to advance between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, and are most prevalent in women.
How do you know if you have IBS symptoms?
Symptoms include: cramping & stomach pain, change in bowel habits – diarrhoea to constipation, bloating, gassiness, urgent need to go to the bathroom, the need to pee often, sudden urges to pee, and feeling like you can’t fully empty your bladder.
What are common IBS triggers?
Coffee, processed foods, dairy, gluten, fried foods, alcohol, artificial sugars, excess sugar, spicy foods, caffeine & red meat. Nobody ever wants to hear that their favourite foods aren’t healthy for your gut, but it’s the truth, if you want to get rid of your IBS naturally, then you’ll have to get rid of some of the things you eat & drink first.
Steps to cure IBS naturally:
1. Take Probiotics
I started taking 1 ‘Health Aid Fem Probio‘ probiotic capsule every day because after researching, I found that active bacterial cultures are known to support digestive health and that they also have a crazy amount of health benefits, especially if you’re a woman. I’ve tried a few probiotic brands over the past year and this is without a doubt the best one. The reviews are amazing, the capsules are vegetarian/vegan & there are 50 billion probiotic cultures from 12 strains in each capsule. I was taking capsules from Holland & Barrett, but find that Health Aid Fem Probio is also the best value for the amount of probiotic cultures in each capsule compared to others. Probiotics can:
- Reduce stomach pains (the most common IBS sympton)
- Heal your gut
- Maintain healthy immune function
- Improve iron & B12 levels
- Balance intestinal flora
- Provide natural defence against yeast and harmful bacteria
- Improve digestive function
- Maintain vaginal health for those who are prone to thrush & UTI’s
I can’t stress enough how much this has helped me, I feel so much better & I’ve spoke to a few other women who have also now cured their IBS by taking probiotics! I will never stop taking these probiotics now, that’s how much difference they’ve made in my life. And if you are going to take them, just remember not to drink anything hot before or after as the heat can kill the live bacteria in the capsules, making them pretty much useless!
2. Drink raw apple cider vinegar
There are lots of claims that drinking raw apple cider vinegar can do wonders to your body because of its antimicrobial properties due to its acid content. Many of the claims suggest drinking raw apple cider vinegar can help with constipation, heart burn, cure vaginal candida infection & has anti-inflammatory properties, however many of these claims are not backed by scientific proof. But if you want to add raw apple cider vinegar to your diet, try mixing 1 or 2 tablespoons into a glass of water and drink it before your meals. Or you can try Apple Cider Vinegar Vegan Capsules with your daily vitamins if that’s easier for you.
3. Drink plenty of water
I usually drink a lot of water in the day without any effort & I always drink around 1 or 2 bottles of water throughout the night, so this wasn’t a big change for me. But I did make an effort to start filling up around 3/4 bottles of water in the morning & leaving them in the fridge so they’re cold + I can physically see how much I’m drinking. And if you’re like me & you like a bit of flavour in your water, I put the tiniest drop of no added sugar fruit squash into my water.
4. Follow a Anti-Bloat Vegan Meal Plan
Diet was the main lifestyle change to completely get rid of my bloat. Without changing my diet, I would be in the same position as before.
5. Take a vegan supplement
When you’ve got IBS, your digestive system can be really badly damaged, which means your body finds it difficult to get all the vitamins & minerals it needs to heal. I take a vegan supplement everyday just to make sure I’m getting everything I need.
6. Eat prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods help probiotics thrive, so if you take probiotics & eat prebiotic food, your digestion is bound to improve. Some of the health benefits of prebiotic foods include – stronger immune system, better nutrient absorption, weight loss, natural detoxification, stress support & of course improved digestion.
Not sure what prebiotic foods are? Here are a few: mushrooms, garlic, onion, artichoke, beetroot, leeks, asparagus, radishes, carrots, mango, cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, berries, tomatoes, // oatmeal, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, dark chocolate (can’t live without it), quinoa, couscous // lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, black beans.
7. Note down what foods/drinks triggers your IBS symptoms
You can easily keep a “food diary” on your iPhone in your notes so that you can easily notice what foods trigger certain IBS symptoms. Everyone is different, so foods that trigger my IBS, may not trigger yours.
I have gradually eliminated a few things from my diet after I noticed they trigger my IBS symptoms. I’ve reduced the amount of coffee & caffeinated drinks I have, I stopped smoking completely & I did 1 month without alcohol. I have seriously reduced the amount of alcohol I drink now because I noticed such a difference after not drinking for a month. And in terms of food, I’ve been vegan for years so I’d already cut dairy & meat out of my diet. I also realised that I don’t bloat in the mornings as long as I don’t eat bread for breakfast, so I’ve started having porridge or a smoothie instead. I’ve been making the yummiest Green Smoothie lately – it’s so easy to make & tastes like mango & pineapple (yaaaas!)
I am the laziest person, so exercise isn’t my favourite thing to do. But obviously any type of exercise is good for your body. I’ve started working out to YouTube videos with small weights & I’ve been practising yoga in the mornings. I’m actually really surprised at home much I love practising yoga, I only really tried it to join the trend train, but it’s growing on me. I want to buy some yoga accessories soon, so if you have any recommendations, please leave a comment below!
9. Manage stress
Everyone deals with stress differently & we all have our own ways of managing stress. So whether that’s meditating, reading a book, having a nice hot bath or going for a walk in the park, do what you need to de-stress yourself.
10. Make small changes in your diet
I know for some people, cutting out gluten has made a massive difference to their IBS symptoms. So maybe start by having a few days where you cut out gluten all together & see if you notice any changes. If not, take the next few days to cut out gassy drinks such as fizzy pop, alcoholic beverages, coffee & energy drinks. Making small changes can make such a big difference, and as soon as you figure out what kind of foods cause your IBS symptoms, you can start to eliminate them.
11. Do your best to eliminate sugar
I said “do your best” because there’s genuinely no way I could go a day without some form of chocolate, judge me. But all jokes aside, sugar can really set your IBS symptoms off, but in my experience, “healthy” natural sugars don’t have the same affect, so I wouldn’t worry about how much sugar is in a banana!
12. Find a gut-friendly vegan cookbook for meal inspiration
My 2 absolute must-have cookbooks for eating healthy & healing your gut are ‘Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment‘ (around £11) & ‘The Plant-Based Diet Meal Plan: A 3-Week Kick-Start Guide to Eat & Live Your Best‘ (around £6) – which talks about healing your body with plants. Both are amazing (& cheap) and I love both of them for healthy meal inspiration!
13. Try a Low FODMAP vegan diet
Many vegan pantry staples are high in FODMAPs. But if you want to try it out, then here is an extensive list of the foods that you can eat on a low FODMAP vegan diet.
• Bell peppers
• Bok choy
• Brussels sprouts
• Butternut squash
• Chick peas
• Collard greens
• Sweet corn
• Green beans
• Spring onions
• Sweet potato
• Dragon fruit
• Passion fruit
• Gluten free bread
• Gluten free pasta
• Rice cakes
• Tortilla chips
• Wholegrain bread
• Wholegrain pasta
• Wholegrain rice
• Brazil nuts
• Macadamia nuts
• Mixed nuts
• Pine nuts
• Chia seeds
• Poppy seeds
• Hemp seeds
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sesame seeds
• Sunflower seeds
• Almond butter
• Apple cider vinegar
• Baking powder
• Baking soda
• Cacao powder
• Dark chocolate
• Agave syrup
• Miso paste
• Nutritional yeast
• Peanut butter
• Soy sauce
• Bay leaves
• Black pepper
• Chilli powder
• Curry powder
Diary free milk: