People who have IBS-D can often find relief from several types of treatment. You can make changes to your diet, take medication, find ways to relieve stress, or try behavioral therapy or alternative therapy. You may need a few of these approaches at the same time to get relief.
IBS is a complex condition that not only involves problems with bowel movements but also belly pain, bloating, and gas. The goal of treatment is to improve all of your symptoms.
If you have IBS with constipation you probably already know how important fiber-rich foods are for your comfort. Making the American Dietetic Association's recommendation to eat 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams for men your mealtime mantra is a great place to start. But in order for a high-fiber eating plan to work its magic, you have to do three things:
Gradually increase the fiber in your diet to your target amount
Reach the higher-fiber target almost every day.
Don't try to treat your IBS on your own. First, your doctor must make sure that your symptoms are being caused by IBS. Then work with your doctor to find the best treatment for you.
It might help if you keep a record of the foods you eat and how they make you feel. Since different foods can affect people in different ways, keeping an IBS symptom journal can help you and your doctor figure out foods you can eat and which ones to stay away from. Some tips to get started:
Avoid chocolate, fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, the artificial sweetener sorbitol (found in sugarless gum and mints), and fructose (the sugar in honey and many fruits). These can often make diarrhea symptoms worse.
Be careful with fiber, but you don’t have to avoid it altogether. It’s good for you in other ways, like preventing colon cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Plus, it keeps your diarrhea from turning into constipation. But too much of it sometimes leads to gas and bloating. For IBS-D, it's best to eat the soluble kind of fiber. It takes a longer to leave your digestive system. You can get it in oat bran, barley, the flesh of fruit (as opposed to the skin), and navy, pinto, and lima beans.
Drink plenty of water every day. Try having a glass an hour before or an hour after meals, instead of while you eat. When you drink water with food, it may make the food move through your system a little faster.