Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that causes stomachache, heartburn, and nausea. Sometimes, IBS causes vitamin B12 deficiency; other times, IBS happens because of other comorbid conditions or bad eating habits. In part one of Top 20 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Do’s and Don’ts, learn how to treat IBS symptoms by changing your eating habits and making smarter lifestyle choices.
Symptoms of IBS
About 20% of Americans suffer symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, which may vary in severity from uncomfortable to debilitating. IBS does not cause any harm to your digestive system, nor does it lead to any life-threatening diseases. Depending on what’s causing IBS, be it vitamin B12 deficiency or Crohn’s disease, you may have most or just a few of the following symptoms:
- Heartburn that is not relieved by antacids
- Acid reflux
- Severe stomach cramps
- Bloated feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in stools
#1 Don’t do that! Overeat
Indulging in large meals is the most common eating-related cause of IBS. Your body needs only a small amount of food to be satisfied. By eating more than your stomach can handle in one sitting, you cause stomach discomfort, acid indigestion, painful heartburn, and obesity. Instead of eating a day’s worth of calories at once, break them down into several small meals throughout the day.
However, if you eat normal-sized meals, yet feel your throat closing up while eating, or if you have trouble swallowing food, then it might indicate pernicious anemia, which may be diagnosed with a vitamin B12 blood test.
#2 Don’t do that! Rush through meals
Do you give yourself a long time to enjoy a meal? If not, you may be causing severe indigestion. While you eat, your stomach sends messages to your brain, signaling you when it’s time to stop eating. Once your stomach is comfortably full, you feel satiated. However, it may take as long as 20 minutes the message to come full circle. So by eating in a hurry, you don’t give yourself a chance to stop eating in time to avoid overeating and indigestion. Instead, eat slowly, put your fork down between bites, and pay attention to your stomach signals.
#3 Don’t do that! Eat processed foods
Processed foods are the source of many gastrointestinal ills. What are processed foods? Anything food that’s been stripped of its nutritional value through processing, resulting in a nutritionally-devoid, hard-to-digest product may, over time, cause stomach upset, bacterial infections, vitamin deficiency, and obesity. Anything containing white flour, white rice, white sugar, or many food additives may cause IBS symptoms.
#4 Don’t do that! Eat trigger foods
Certain trigger foods may exacerbate IBS or illnesses like Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia. Likely food triggers are fried or fatty foods, spicy dishes, caffeinated beverages, carbonated drinks, alcohol, fruits with small seeds, chocolate, corn, and dairy products. All of these may cause acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.
#5 Don’t do that! Drink during meals
Having a sip of mineral water between bites may seem like a good idea for weight control, but it also causes indigestion. Every time you wash down your food with liquids, you dilute essential stomach acids, thereby reducing their potency and triggering heartburn, acid indigestion, and tummy aches. Instead, drink down a large glass of water before eating- you’ll digest your food better and feel full sooner!
#6 Don’t do that! Mindless eating
Another mistake people often make is eating in front of the television, while reading, standing at the buffet table, or worse yet- while driving your car. Eating on “autopilot” causes you to eat too much, too fast, and makes it almost impossible for you to recognize feelings of satiety. As a rule, always eat white seated at a table, minus the TV or computer screen.
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#7 Don’t do that! Lie down after eating
Your metabolism doesn’t function well in sedentary mode; for that reason, it’s important to avoid slumping on the couch after a meal. For better digestion, plan light workouts like walking for an after-meal activity.
#8 Don’t do that! Medications
Lay off medicines that can worsen heartburn and acid reflux, such as sleeping pills. Also, overusing acid reflux meds for heartburn can increase your risk for bacterial infections, in addition to interfering with vitamin B12 absorption.
#9 Don’t do that! Stress out
Stress is a common cause of stomach problems. For people with IBS, anxiety, fatigue, and anger can cause muscle spasms in the colon. Incorporate exercise, relaxation techniques, and vitamin therapy into your daily regimen for optimum psychological health. If necessary, antidepressants prescribed by your doctor may be helpful.
Sometimes, extreme stress, depression, and anxiety correlate with severe vitamin B12 deficiency. Other mental disorders correlated with B12 deficiency include paranoia, hallucinations, and unusual aggressiveness.
When Vitamin B12 Deficiency has you under its Spell…of Depression
#10 Don’t do that! Smoke
Not only does smoking cigarettes damage your lungs, it also affects your digestive system, causing acid reflux and esophageal damage, as well. Improve your chances of living a long, healthy life- ask your doctor for advice on quitting smoking, for good.
Please tell us…
Have you been experiencing unusual stomach problems, such as feeling uncomfortably full after eating light meals, waking up in the middle of the night with acid reflux, or chronic diarrhea?
Have you had your vitamin B12 levels tested? Gastrointestinal disorders sometimes lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, so people with GI issues are recommended to get their vitamin B12 levels checked routinely.
As always, we welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.
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Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency and IBS
8 Ailments Linked with Gastritis, including B12 Deficiency
Gastrointestinal Surgery for Crohn’s (IBD) and B12 Warnings
Pernicious anemia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Indigestion – Self help
Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, euthman, Sean Rogers1, stevendepolo