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New research has revealed women are more likely to experience IBS and other gut issues than men. Whether it’s bloating, pain, urgency, constipation or frequent diarrhea, all undesirable gut experiences can contribute to a reduced quality of life. So, why are women more susceptible and how can we better support our digestion in our pursuit towards a life of vitality?
As a woman living in 2022 it’s likely you’ve experienced a bout of IBS or some version of a dysfunctional gut throughout your years. Have you ever wondered what led to the gut problem phenomena? Or, why it seems to be such a common issue among many women in your circle?
Research has revealed that women are suffering from IBS and other gut issues more than men¹. On top of this women also experience symptoms and fluctuations at a more severe degree. Whether you’re in your adult reproductive, menopausal or postmenopausal years as a woman it’s 75% likely you will suffer from debilitating gut symptoms throughout your life cycle.
According to experts stress, sleep patterns and diet are the three critical risk factors contributing to IBS and poor gut functionality. Reportedly, one, two or all three of these areas are often overlooked by women in an effort to keep up and on top of the never-ending ‘to do’ list many women are faced with in their day-to-day lives.
Whether you’re susceptible to stress and heightened cortisol production slowing or fastening digestion, lack of sleep (a known precursor for bowel regularity), or are inclined to make poor dietary choices such as highly processed, nutritionless food known to contribute to digestive disarray there may be simple holistic lifestyle shifts you can implement to keep your IBS at bay. Here are our top tips to support gut regularity:
Stress is known as one of the leading contributors to poor gut function². Meditation, time spent in nature, regular low intensity exercise such as yoga, pilates, or barre are all known precurors to reduced stress levels and could potentially influence gut supportive effects.
Interrupted sleep patterns or insufficient sleep (<8hrs per night) are common experiences among those with reported IBS and other forms of gut dysfunction³. Thus, simple measures to reduce cortisol and adrenaline production at night and support your body’s ability to transition into a maintained sleep state could significantly reduce IBS experiences. Simple habitual shifts to support better sleep include screen time reduction, blue block glasses, mood lighting, lavender, licorice or chamomile tea, reading or journaling, meditation or breathwork and connected moments with loved ones.
Researchers out of Monash University Australia found there were five key food groups known to severely contribute to the onset of IBS symptoms, particularly those who were consuming these food groups in high amounts. These groups are known as FODMAP.
FODMAP is an acronym, representing various food groups, including fermentable, oligosaccharides (fructans, galactans), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose) and polyols (sugar alcohols – xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt).
A low FODMAP diet⁴ may contribute to reduced IBS symptoms and help identify key foods to avoid in future. It is always advised to consult with a professional before introducing a new dietary routine to ensure it is suited with your unique needs. Key foods to avoid when eating a low FODMAP diet include:
- Fermentable: wheat, garlic, onion, banana
- Oligosaccharides: soy, lentil, beans
- Disaccharides: dairy
- Monosaccharides: honey, apples, grapes
- Polyols: apples, grapes, avocado, cauliflower
Like many wellbeing experiences, lifestyle shifts can be overwhelming, our favourite digital resources to support the IBS journey include:
- Belly Balance app (available in Swedish)
- Monash University FODMAP app (available only in English)
- Nerva (available only in English)
Feel free to share your story in the comments, what helped you and not. Together we can support and help eachother.