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Healthy Lifestyle Deflates IBS Risk

Mental & Physical Wellbeing Are Key

Healthy Lifestyle Deflates IBS Risk

By Sean Zucker –

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is one of the most common gastro issues Americans face. While never life-threatening, the disease can have a deliberating effect on the lives of sufferers. This means when a study recently found that simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of IBS, it was welcomed. 

The Cleveland Clinic reports that 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. adult population suffers from IBS. However, only around five to seven percent have the condition diagnosed largely due to its wide-reaching and often misunderstood symptoms. The most common of which include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, mucus in stool and feeling an inability to fully empty bowels. The health resource notes that researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes IBS so, naturally, prevention can be tricky.  

This uncertainty is at the heart of the University of Hong Kong’s recent study. The research team examined the medical and diet information of nearly 65,000 people using data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale database and research resource that collects lifestyle and health information and biological samples from half a million volunteers throughout the United Kingdom. The Hong Kong researchers focused on individuals aged 37 to 73 years who had no prior IBS diagnosis art enrollment, which occurred between 2006 and 2010. They were all then tracked up until 2022. 

The team zeroed in on five major behaviors that they deemed representative of a healthy lifestyle. These behaviors were high levels of vigorous activity, getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, maintaining a balanced diet, not smoking and only consuming a moderate amount of alcohol. After analyzing the data, researchers found that only 12 percent of the participants engaged in all five healthy behaviors. Just over 21,000 people, or 32 percent, regularly engaged in one of the habits. Nearly 22,000 participants, or 34 percent, checked two of the healthy lifestyle boxes, while 22 percent tallied three to five.  

Ultimately, the more engaged participants were in these healthy behaviors, the lower their risk of developing IBS symptoms. 

Those who exercised just one of the five healthy behaviors, for example, saw a 21 percent lower risk of developing IBS or related symptoms when compared with those who exhibited none. Participants who followed two behaviors had a 36 percent lower risk, while those who performed three to five almost cut their risk in half at 42 percent. 

“Adhering to a higher number of healthy lifestyle behaviors is significantly associated with a lower incidence of IBS in the general population. Our findings suggest the potential of lifestyle modifications as a primary prevention strategy for IBS,” the study’s authors concluded. 

The researchers noted that they found no significant impact relating to age, sex, employment status, geographic location, previous gastrointestinal infection, endometriosis or family history of IBS. This research was also preceded by a Tokyo University of Science study that suggested mental well-being as another key component in reducing IBS risk. This study found that when mice were repeatedly placed in psychologically stressful situations, they often went on to develop gastrointestinal symptoms consistent with IBS. 

In short, to decrease the risk of IBS, increasing overall physical and mental well-being helps big time.





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