3 Tips to Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Kelowna Dietitian

Kelowna Dietitian

Selena Devries, RD, is a Registered Dietitian who helps busy individuals develop lifelong healthy habits.

Over 5 million Canadians suffer from irritable bowel syndrome with 120,000 Canadian developing IBS each year. In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world.

Symptoms that people living with IBS may have include:

Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
Digestive cramps
Digestive pains
Excessive gas
But, not to fear, a well rounded lifestyle approach can help you manage your symptoms and gain back control of your life.

Here are 3 tips to help you optimize your digestion:

1.  Implement a FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols)
diet – These are a group of carbohydrate rich foods that are poorly digested in those living with irritable bowel syndrome or a sensitive digestive system. This diet can be very finicky and is not meant to be long-term. You want to make sure you work with a knowledgeable dietitian when trying to implement it and to help you navigate your unique food intolerances.

2.  Take a broad spectrum probiotic: A healthy digestive system is dependent on healthy levels and diverse levels of good bacteria (probiotics). Research has noted that there are up to 500-1000 different strains of bacteria in our gut so it’s very important to rotate your probiotics to diversify the population of probiotics in your own digestive system. Probiotic quality vary immensely. It’s important to search for third party tested supplements. Some favourite brands include VSL#3, Bio-K+, and Culturelle.

3.  Manage stress levels: High stress is associated with digestive woes. High stress levels is enough to change the mucous secretion in our gut to be more favourable to the growth of bad bacteria. High stress can also increase the permeability in our gut (leaky gut) increasing risk for developing additional food sensitivities. One of my favourite apps is called Headspace, where you all you take is 10 minutes a day to breath and de-stress.

Here’s a FODMAP friendly recipe to get you on your way to a healthy and happy gut.

Citrus Punch Quinoa Salad: serves 4-5

1 cup dry quinoa
1 and 3⁄4 cup water
1⁄2 cup canned lentils (BPA free), rinsed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup parsley, minced
1 orange, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
1 lime zested and 2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄4 cup + 2 TBP olive oil
1 TBP maple syrup

1. In a pot, add in the water and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Then let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing. Grab a jar and mix together the olive oil, maple syrup, salt, orange juice, lime juice, and lime zest. Shake to mix.

3. Once the quinoa has cooled add in the lentils, chopped pepper, parsley and orange. Add in the dressing and mix. Enjoy.