Do you feel digestive discomfort after eating dairy and also non-dairy products? If so, you could have irritable bowl syndrome, a condition that has similar symptoms as lactose intolerance.
While IBS is not at all life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable—and embarrassing to talk about. Those who suffer with it can experience diarrhea or constipation and additional symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort.
There's a lot of debate as to what causes IBS. Three of the most popular theories are that it stems from a poor diet, that it's caused by dysfunctional muscles within the organs of the gastrointestinal tract or by problems in the nerves that control these organs (basically there's a miscommunication between your brain and your stomach).
Either way, about 15 percent of African-American women have been diagnosed with the disorder. While changing your diet can help get the condition under control, it's usually treated with medication to help with the diarrhea or constipation as well as the pain and bloating.
Whether it comes down to medication or not, here are some additional ways to keep your digestive track in check:
Peppermint oil: Found in the form of tablets at most natural food stores, this minty oil is said to relax the muscles in your intestines, which quiets some of the spasms related to cramps and accidents.
Fiber supplements: For those with constipation troubles, fiber supplements like Metamucil or Citrucel Soluble may help get things moving again minus the pain.
Probiotics: Foods like Activia include "good" bacteria which help promote a healthy environment within your intestines along with alleviating some of the gas, bloating, and pain.
Stress control: A 10-week study at the University at Buffalo showed that 70 percent of participants who learned to control their negative thoughts were able to reduce their symptoms.
Healthy Diet: Limiting the amount of fatty, greasy foods, chocolate, sodas, and alcohol helps prevent up to 65 percent of flare-ups in IBS patients.