Many people with irritable bowel syndrome turn to laxatives to relieve constipation. But it’s important to understand exactly how much these treatments can help the condition.
Laxatives do ease constipation and help you have more regular bowel movements. There's no proof they relieve stomach aches, bloating, and other problems that come with IBS, though. Researchers haven’t done enough of the right kinds of scientific studies to know exactly how well they work.
But that doesn’t mean a laxative...
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.