Search the whole site for articles and discussions

View a factfile for a specific condition or supplement

Keep up to date with Nutrition Expert

Take 3 ways... to manage IBS

Published Date:

It affects around one in five of us in the UK and can put a serious damper on daily life. Here's how to soothe symptoms the natural way...

‘There are several reasons why exercise can help IBS sufferers manage their condition,’ says Dean Hodgkin, fitness expert at Ragdale Hall and Energie Fitness ( In the first instance it helps reduce stress, a well-known trigger for IBS symptoms. The reason? Exercise helps boost levels of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. In addition, getting active stimulates the pituitary gland to release endorphins - the body’s own ‘feel-good’ hormones - which are thought to have analgesic properties.

‘Less tangible benefits of exercise include weight management, social interaction and a sense of achievement after completing a workout; all of which can boost self-esteem,’ says Dean. Despite the current trend, give high intensity interval training (HIIT) a miss and go for gentler activities such as Pilates, power walking and swimming.

‘FODMAPs  - short for ‘oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols’ – found in many healthy foods such as veggies and fruit, as well as insoluble fibres found in wholegrain cereals, are now thought to be the biggest offenders in IBS,’ says nutrition expert Patsy Westcott. ‘FODMAPs draw water into the bowel and ferment, triggering the production of gases, which in turn provoke wind, bloating, pain and discomfort. A low FODMAP diet can bring relief within as short a time as week. Wheat or rye breads can trigger symptoms because they are high in the FODMAP, fructans. Try spelt and gluten-free breads instead.’ For a comprehensive list of FODMAPs, download the Monash university Low FODMAP Diet App.

IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is not something you should self-diagnose but, if your doctor confirms it, several supplements can help,’ says Dr. Sarah Brewer. A probiotic supplement, such as Healthspan's Super50 Pro can be beneficial, as these ‘friendly’ digestive bacteria help suppress the growth of gas-forming bacteria and can improve symptoms caused by abnormal fermentation in the large bowel.

Peppermint oil is another effective treatment, with data from 12 trials, involving almost 600 people, showing it to be more effective than prescribed antispasmodic drugs. Globe artichoke supplements also improve IBS symptoms, with over two thirds of people noticing a benefit within ten days. Many people find aloe vera juice helpful, while psyllium fibre can improve diarrhoea and constipation.

Sarah Brewer graduated as a doctor from Cambridge University. Having worked in hospitals and general practice, she gained a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. She is the author of over 60 popular health books and writes widely on all aspects of health including complementary medicine. More from this expert.

Latest Articles

You may also be interested in:

Dr Hilary Jones

What is Alzheimers?

Dr Hilary Jones discusses Alzheimer's disease and how...


The benefits of Omega 3

Nutritionist Henrietta Norton explains the many benefits...

Dr Sarah Brewer

Arthritis and your nutrition

Dr Sarah Brewer explores how your nutrition can help...


Circulation, Heart Health and Nutrition

Discover how nutrition can help keeping your heart...

No statement or article should be understood as providing treatment advice. If you have a health problem consult your GP and check compatibility of new supplements with your GP or Pharmacist if you are taking any prescription medication.

Nutrition Expert sources the latest information and advice from a range of qualified doctors, nutritionists and coaches. We always endeavour to have the most up to date information possible and publish new content weekly. However with the constant research in this field sometimes some of our older articles can become out of date. If you see anything that you believe needs to be updated please let us know via our Contact Us page