Okay let’s cut the shit, if you’re here reading this then chances are you either have IBS or you’ve been researching your symptoms and it’s led you here. I wrote this lengthy-ass post because I wanted to help other people like myself who might be currently experiencing the horrendous and uncomfortable pains that come with having IBS.
After changing my diet to a mostly whole-food plant-based diet and taking pro-biotics, I’ve had no symptoms at all. I’ve pretty much managed to cure myself by making a few simple changes to my lifestyle, so let me show you how I did it.
If you like this post you might also like How To Restore Your Gut Bacteria.
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.
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 & 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, then you’ll have to cut back on some of the things you eat & drink. *cries inside + instantly craves a Chinese takeaway*
Steps to cure your IBS naturally:
1. Take Probiotics
I can’t stress enough how much taking probiotics has changed my life! They’re basically capsules which have active bacterial cultures in them to support your digestive health. When the bacteria in your gut become imbalanced, you can experience health + digestive issues. And for such a small capsule, they have a crazy amount of benefits to help relieve your IBS symptoms. I’ve now been taking probiotics for nearly 2 years, I can 100% say that these are the best thing you can take if you have IBS.
Common benefits of probiotics:
- Reduce stomach pains (the most common IBS symptom)
- 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’ve tried a few probiotic brands over the past few years as you can imagine. Here’s my advice:
- Look for probiotics with a high potency (between 30-50 billion CFU) – this sounds like a lot but this is a good amount.
- See how many “strains” of bacterial cultures each product offers (6-10 strains is what I look out for).
- Look at the reviews for each product.
- Make sure the capsule is vegan/vegetarian as there might be the odd one which is made with gelatin.
- Don’t buy any second hand probiotics + don’t buy from eBay. In my experience, a lot of the probiotic products I’ve found on eBay have a recent expiry date which is why they’re slightly cheaper. If the probiotics are due to expire soon, it means the active bacterial cultures will be less effective. Don’t waste your money!
- And lastly, don’t take probiotics with hot drinks as it kills the bacteria.
- NewRhythm Probiotics 50 Billion CFU, 20 Strains, 60 Veggie Capsules (AMAZING VALUE FOR MONEY)
- Probiotic10 50 Billion – Now Foods – 100 capsules (BEST IF YOU’RE ON A BUDGET)
- Physician’s Choice – 60 Billion CFU Probiotics – 30 Capsules (ALSO A VERY GOOD CHOICE)
- Natures Zest 50 Billion CFU Bio Cultures with Prebiotics, 180 Capsules, 6 strains (BEST VALUE FOR MONEY)
- Natures Aid Pro-30 MAX, 30 Billion Live Bacteria, 30 Capsules, 8 strains (BEST IF YOU’RE ON A BUDGET)
- Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics 50 Billion, 30 Capsules, 16 strains (BEST IF YOU’VE GOT LOTS OF MONEYZ)
If you live in the UK, the only product I wouldn’t recommend are the Holland + Barrett probiotics. Although they are slightly cheaper, they’re the only probiotics I’ve used that didn’t work for me (my bloating and stomach pain came back after switching to these). This is my own personal experience, as different products may work differently for other people, but I want to be as honest as possible!
2. 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.
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 gut health 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. Check out How To Restore Your Gut Bacteria post for a sample gut health meal plan to show you what you should be eating!
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. 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.
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.
Any type of exercise is good for your body. If you don’t have a gym membership or a home gym then try some YouTube videos or follow your favourite fitness influencer for home workouts.
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, don’t judge me! 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! I’ve also started using sugar alternatives that use Stevia (a healthy sugar alternative) in my hot drinks and baking. Stevia doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels the way normal sugar does, and I can always tell when someone has put sugar in my tea instead of Stevia because I will instantly start bloating, so in my experience it does work!