IBS & Summer Heat

I am seriously lacking in essential hot-weather skills, it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. A few summers ago whilst on holiday with my family and boyfriend in Turkey, I collapsed inside a hot and humid toilet cubicle on the beach after some particularly bad tummy cramps and was whizzed off to hospital by a suicidal ambulance driver who insisted on driving at 120mph across makeshift roads made of nothing but jagged rocks. I had to stay overnight and was fed boiled carrots for 24 hours.

Having been told I suffer with IBS last December, I now understand why many of my summers and holidays growing up involved glamorous toilet trips for the first 48 hours, diarrhea, sickness and gut-wrenching cramps whenever I ate anything. Strangely I never associated it with food and always blamed it on heat stroke. Turns out I probably could have avoided the embarrassing cubicle drama in Turkey with a few simple steps and a more controlled diet.

The heat makes my tummy worse and my pain threshold lower, and in trying to deal with these horrid symptoms during this sticky humidity we’re experiencing, I’ve found a few things that help. I thought I’d share them with you just in case they could ease any distress caused by uncontrollable IBS, because I know how debilitating it can be.

1) I know it might be a pain in the ass, but try and drink water at room temperature like a Hollywood actress with an attitude problem. Ice cold drinks, just like hot tea and coffee, can irritate the gut when humidity is high.

2) It goes without saying, but try and avoid trigger foods. If you know something has affected you in the past, don’t risk it. The heat will lower your tolerances and it will probably make you uncomfortable.

3) Whatever you think you need to drink, drink a little bit more. You’ll sweat more when it’s hot and humid, and if you’ve been suffering with diarrhea then chances are you’re dehydrated.

4) Make sure your bedroom is cool and comfortable. Have the window open or get a fan. It’s too hot for duvets too, take it out and just use the cover.

5) Don’t stand for the heat. If you’re struggling, move to another area and cool yourself down. Take a cold shower, invest in a fan or a personal assistant…

6) Peppermint tea can really aid digestion but don’t drink it scorching hot, wait for it to cool or have your personal assistant blow on it until it reaches room temperature.

7) Get more sleep. I find that even if I lose an hours sleep my symptoms are worse the next day. It’s best to get your sleep between 10pm – 6am.

8) Ensure you’re getting enough insoluble fibre in your diet. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water, so unlike soluble fibre it stays relatively whole during digestion to help give you bulky, healthy stools. Without it the gut will struggle. This is a different type of fibre to that found in fruit, and you can find it in things like brown rice, wholewheat pasta, seeds, nuts, dark leafy veggies, and root vegetable skins. If you’re following a low carb/low fat diet (which I do not recommend!) then it’s likely you’re not getting enough of this type of fibre. And yes, my raw chocolate orange caramel slices count as insoluble fibre! Promise.

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