It affects one in seven Australians, meaning there’s probably someone in your life who’s living with medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Maybe it’s you. Read on for some tips on living well with this condition.

Blokes tend to love toilet humour, but it mightn’t be so funny if you’re living with medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

About 10-15% of Australians, or one in seven adults, live with IBS. Its complex causes can include alterations in your and immune function, a leaky gut lining, and the interaction between your brain and gut. This makes your gut more sensitive, causing abdominal discomfort and bloating, and alters how your bowel muscles contract, causing constipation, diarrhoea, or both.

Men tend to avoid going to the GP, but if you have symptoms of IBS, it’s important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and to rule out more serious conditions. A knowledgeable, supportive doctor will offer advice and options on a treatment plan that is suitable for you. There are different ways to manage the condition and it may take time to find out what works for you. Often, working in conjunction with your GP and incorporating things like behavioural therapy, modifying your diet and lifestyle, and taking a probiotic to support your gut, would provide a holistic approach to aiding symptom relief.

Dietary changes help some men with IBS, but there is no one diet that suits everyone. General tips include eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day, eating more slowly, and gradually adding more soluble fibre (found in vegetables, fruit and oat cereals) to your diet.

One diet, developed by Australian researchers, limits your intake of a group of sugars called FODMAPS that are found in many foods. FODMAPS may aggravate your gut, causing bloating, gas and abdominal discomfort. Working with a registered dietician, you follow the diet for a few weeks then begin to reintroduce certain foods in a way that suits your body.

IBS symptoms can be worsened by stress–and Aussie men report dealing with quite a bit of work and financial strain. Take some time to consider the pressures you face and how you might manage those feelings or situations. Some people benefit from cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnotherapy or mindfulness training. Exercise is a great stress reliever and learning more about your condition also helps. Talk to your doctor if you need help with techniques to help manage stress.

If you’re living with IBS, it’s important to care for your general health. Exercise regularly to keep fit, get into good sleeping and eating habits.

Probiotics help support healthy levels of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, aiding general digestive health. Just like vitamins, each probiotic strain can play a different role in our health. Life-Space’s IBS Support Probiotic contains Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, which may help relieve abdominal pain, gas and bloating associated with IBS. It also includes zinc to help support the metabolism of macronutrients (sugars, fats and proteins).

IBS can fluctuate, with good or bad stretches. As time goes on, you may become quite adept at understanding your body and identifying those foods or situations that trigger your symptoms. There’s increasing interest in gut health and that’s good news for the estimated 11% of the global population living with IBS.

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.