If you’re one of the 20 percent of people—most of them women—who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you know that bikini season is one of the worst times to deal with symptoms like chronic bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation. The condition is not completely understood, but new, natural ways to ease the discomfort have been emerging— like these suggestions from colleen Webb, r.D., a nutritionist at the Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Weill Cornell Medical college:
Both peppermint and ginger, sold in capsule form at health food stores, may help fight muscle spasms in the intestines.
A Swedish study found that hour-long weekly sessions (for 12 weeks) reduced symptoms in 40 percent of sufferers.
Cut back on sugars
Research suggests that 30 to 60 percent of people with IBS might have trouble digesting fructose—found at high levels in apples, pears, watermelon, honey, and agave, as well as high-fructose corn syrup. A gastroenterologist can give you a breath test to diagnose this sensitivity. “Sugar alcohols, often found in ‘diet’ foods, can also make symptoms worse,” says Webb. (Dead giveaway: ingredients that end in -ol, like sorbitol or mannitol.)
As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.