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Irritating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Conclusion)
March 30, 2009
OK, so here’s the last part of my series on IBS (I promise!). But as you can see, there’s a lot to say about this condition (just as there’s a lot to say about diabetes). I mentioned this previously, but I do think there are a lot of similarities between IBS and diabetes. When it comes to treatment approaches for either condition, there is no one "right" method; treatment must be individualized, based on such factors as type and severity of symptoms. Fortunately, as we learn more and more about diabetes as well as IBS, more treatment options become available.
But exercise may help IBS in another way by reducing some of the gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms of IBS. In fact, one study in particular focused on a group of obese subjects who were involved in a weight loss study. The people who were the heaviest at the end of the study reported more GI symptoms, especially pain and diarrhea. And while eating a lower-fat, higher-fiber diet was linked to fewer symptoms, exercise was clearly related to reduction of symptoms.
Physical activity may help by “conditioning” the bowel and actually making it more “fit” so that symptoms are reduced. Exercise can help relax not only your mind, but your bowel, too. And a study published last year in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercise was beneficial in reducing IBS-related constipation.
A few cautionary notes about exercise and IBS: It’s possible that intense types of exercise, such as running, may aggravate symptoms, including diarrhea and cramps. If you’re finding this to be the case, don’t give up; instead, take these factors into consideration:
Hopefully, you have some kind of physical activity routine in place. If not, and you have IBS, think about ways to be more active. You don’t have to be a runner, nor do you have to join a gym. Maybe walking or yoga sounds more appealing. The point is to find something that you enjoy and that doesn’t aggravate your symptoms.
Finding ways to reduce or cope with stress is a key part of IBS management. We all have stress and to expect it to go away is unrealistic. But if you can better handle it, you’ll feel more relaxed and in control. How do you cut down on stress? Here are some ways:
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