When your gut starts acting up (and doesn’t stop), one of the first factors you should investigate is your diet.
Figuring this stuff out involves a lot of doctor’s office visits and diet-related experiments. And sometimes, even after all that, you still don’t have a firm idea of what’s causing your gut trouble.
People in this situation often get diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and end up going on restrictive diets that they aren’t sure make a difference.
But what if you could get rid of your gut trouble without changing anything in your diet?
It sounds too good to be true, but it’s possible. A new study shows that gut issues may have more to do with stress than the contents of your stomach.
This mindfulness program slayed IBS symptoms
A new study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility found that a mindfulness program designed to reduce stress significantly improved gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS.
The study included 53 women and 15 men with IBS. They all participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class that taught them how to cope with stress better using mindfulness.
Researchers measured participants’ symptom severity, quality of life and IBS-related anxiety before the study, three months after the study and six months after the study. Guess what happened?
In the words of researchers, mindfulness‐based stress reduction training led to “robust improvements” in IBS symptoms, anxiety and quality of life. The best part? These improvements happened without making any diet changes or taking any medications. All people in the study did was learn how to better cope with stress.
Here’s more good news: Researchers were able to narrow in on one aspect of mindfulness that seemed to have the biggest impact on IBS sufferers — the ability to stay in the present moment and act with awareness.
Making mindfulness-based stress reduction part of your gut health plan
If you’re interested in soothing chronic stomach symptoms, mindfulness-based stress reduction may be the place to start. That doesn’t mean you can’t make diet changes as well. Get tested for food allergies and take other commonsense steps to rule things out. But if there’s no easy answer to your stomach problems, mindfulness-based stress reduction may prevent you from having to go on an unnecessarily restrictive diet long-term.
There are a lot of ways to learn mindfulness-based stress reduction. There are books, videos, courses, coaches and teachers who specialize in mindfulness-based stress reduction.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction. He has plenty of books and audio programs you can get on Amazon or at your local library. You could also try this free online course. Who knows? A little mindfulness may go a long way toward a happier, healthier gut.
- Mindfulness program may benefit patients with irritable bowel syndrome — MedicalXpress.
- Mindfulness‐based stress reduction improves irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms via specific aspects of mindfulness — Neurogastroenterology & Motility.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: What It Is, How It Helps — Psychology Today.