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IBS Diet and Fatigue

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
IBS Diet and Fatigue
Exhausted woman at her desk. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

One of the primary ways you can manage your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and fatigue is through your diet. Certain foods may trigger you IBS symptoms that can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Because there is no cure for IBS, work with your gastroenterologist to determine the most effective diet plan as a preventative measure. Keep a log of the foods you eat most often and how they affect your IBS symptoms to help your doctor determine which foods you should avoid.

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What Is IBS?

Somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences IBS symptoms at one time, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. IBS develops when the muscles in your colon do not function normally, contracting faster or slower than normal. This abnormality can lead to chronic diarrhea, constipation or an alternation between the two symptoms. Other symptoms include cramping, pain, bloating and nausea after eating. Your symptoms are most effectively managed through diet modification and reducing the amount of stress in your life.

Fatigue and Diet

Having IBS can cause fatigue to occur whenever your symptoms are triggered. Avoiding certain foods can prevent fatigue and other common IBS symptoms from developing. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that common foods that can trigger IBS symptoms include fatty foods, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, dairy, caffeine, beans, cabbage and other gas causing foods. Not all IBS symptoms are triggered by the same foods. For example, you may notice that after you eat a sugar-free food that contains an artificial sweetener your symptoms flare up. In this case, avoid the specific food and call your doctor.

Another way IBS causes fatigue is the fact that ti causes intestinal inflammation, which in turn causes in lower levels of glutamic acid. Lower glutamic acid levels mean lower levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is a calming agent in the brain, as explained by Eva Cwynar, author of The Fatigue Solution. The end result of lower GABA levels is exhaustion, restlessness, stress and fatigue.

Dietary Considerations

Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber may help minimize your IBS symptoms. Fiber needs to be increased at a slow rate, adding a few grams a day until you notice improvement. Stay away from foods that cause problems for your condition. For example, if you notice that broccoli causes gas and bloating but eating green beans doesn’t, avoid eating broccoli. IBS symptoms may be reduced by eating at the same time every day. Put your digestive system on a schedule. Do not overeat, but attempt to eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Fatigue Treatment

Treating fatigue caused by IBS is primarily by preventing other symptoms from forming. If you feel fatigued for more than three days, call your doctor and make an appointment. Increase the amount of fluids you’re consuming in a day. Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, herbal teas and chicken broth. You should avoid using caffeine for fatigue because it can stimulate your intestines, causing your diarrhea to get worse.

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