Is Yoga Effective to Reduce IBS Symptoms?
The low FODMAP diet has been shown to be an effective approach to reduce symptoms related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Research shows that 3 out of 4 people find tremendous success on this lifelong diet. FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that are partly responsible for the symptoms in people suffering from IBS. For more information, please read this article.
Unfortunately, some people still have symptoms even after following a low FODMAP diet. In addition, having to avoid several foods and controlling what you eat can be stressful. Stress can also be a trigger or worsen symptoms of IBS. Stress refers to the ability of an individual to deal with internal and external demands such as an individual’s job or relationship with others. When the brain sees an external stress-inducing demand, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, borrowing energy from the gut. This results in changes in gastrointestinal function, such as:
- Reduced blood flow
- Reduced mucus production
- Reduced movement of food through the digestive tract
- Heightened gastrointestinal sensitivity.
These changes can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating and changes in stool consistency. Therefore, practicing a relaxing activity such as yoga, breathing techniques or meditation can help one to better manage their emotions and thus reduce their IBS symptoms.
A recent study compared the effects of a yoga program with those of a low FODMAP diet in patients diagnosed with IBS. In order to do this, 59 adults with IBS were assigned a low FODMAP diet which also included three nutrition meetings or a yoga program at two sessions per week, both for a period of 12 weeks. Both methods were as effective in reducing IBS symptoms.
Thus, yoga can be used as an alternative or a complementary method to the low FODMAP diet to help one better control their symptoms related to IBS. For those who have more severe symptoms such as a lot of gas or frequent diarrhea, it could potentially be embarrassing to participate in a group yoga class… But in these cases, don’t be discouraged, as it is definitely possible to practice yoga in the comfort of your own home, by using mobile apps, videos or yoga programs online. What is particularly interesting about this method is that it has virtually no side effects, except helping you to get in shape of course! So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to give it a try!
- Schumann et coll. (2018) Randomised clinical trial: yoga vs a low-FODMAP diet in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther; 47:203–211.
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