It is not entirely clear how stress, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are related -- or which one comes first -- but studies show they tend to co-exist.
"If you do diagnostic interviews, what you find is that about 60% of IBS patients will meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric disorders," says Edward Blanchard, PhD, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany.
The most common mental ailment suffered by people with IBS is generalized anxiety disorder...
It's important to stick to a balanced diet when you have IBS. So never totally avoid certain groups of food, or you may be depriving yourself of nutrients you need.
Do Some Detective Work
Experiment with what you eat to find out what works for you Bonci says. "People could be selective with what they have, saying, 'OK, I'm no good with apples, but I'm alright with a pear. Or grapes don't work for me, but I'm OK with having a little bit of a banana.'"
Keep a symptom journal to track which foods and which amounts seem to give you diarrhea. It's the best way to figure out which eats might be causing you problems. Remember, different foods affect people differently.
You could also try an elimination diet -- if you think certain foods might be triggering your symptoms, stop eating them one at a time, and see how that makes you feel.
Get the Right Type of Fiber
Don't avoid fiber if you have diarrhea. It helps protect your body against heart disease, by lowering your LDL cholesterol, and certain cancers, so you need it.
Simply eat more soluble fiber, rather than the insoluble kind, Bonci says. Soluble fiber stays in the gut longer, which helps the colon work normally.
You find soluble fiber in foods such as:
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in things like:
Although meeting your daily fiber needs is best accomplished by eating the right foods, taking a fiber supplement can also help. Examples of supplements include psyllium, methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and calcium polycarbophil. If you take a fiber supplement, increase the amount you take slowly to help prevent gas and cramping. It’s also important to drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake.