Q: Could you shed some light on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and how to manage it?

A: In IBS, the intestines are very sensitive and irritable. A slight trigger can give you symptoms like bloating or gas, constipation, diarrhoea/cramping. A colonoscopy of your gut might not reveal any structural abnormalities but the issue could be dysfunction of the gut’s ecosystem. Frequent flare-ups can take a serious toll on your quality of life.

One of the causes of IBS is food sensitivity. Consistent exposure to foods your gut is sensitive to can aggravate gut-related symptoms. One common food allergen or pro-inflammatory food is dairy. Even if you are not lactose intolerant, you might not be comfortable with milk products. The milk proteins, casein and whey, can cause irritation and inflammation in the gut.

The other cause of IBS is a microbial imbalance in the gut. The gut bacteria should stay in the large intestine. However, when there’s bacterial overgrowth, the bacteria moves up in the small intestine worsening gut issues. This bacteria ferments carbs, hence, many of us feel bloated after having starchy foods like bread, cereal, pasta, sugary food.

The first step to heal IBS is to reboot the gut. Avoid all pro-inflammatory, difficult-to-digest foods like grains, dairy, sugar, processed junk food, trans fats, and start having gut-soothing foods like cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, fermented food like pickle, kimchi, healthy fats from avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds.

Next, take care of your emotional and mental health. Stress and anxiety can exacerbate gut issues. Practice meditation, yoga or anything that helps you stay mentally relaxed. With time, your gut’s tolerance to various food will get better.

Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist and creator of The Protein Bake Shop. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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