Green vegetables on a green background
IBS is a common condition that affects the digestive system | Credit: Unsplash

I have struggled with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for as long as I can remember. For those who don’t know, it is a common condition that affects the digestive system, causing symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

Eating a meal and instantly having to run to the toilet is not something that anyone wants to deal with. So, I decided I wanted results and I wanted them fast. I made it my mission to improve my gut health in one week, adding one new potential remedy to my routine each day.

It seemed unrealistic to expect results in such a short time period but I was impatient. When I heard that artificial intelligence can create meal plans based on your health requirements, I thought I’d seek some recommendations from ChatGPT to help me on my journey. Here’s how it went.

Buscopan

The first remedy I tried was Buscopan, an OTC (over the counter) medication readily available to buy at supermarkets. It relieves abdominal cramps caused by IBS by relaxing the cramping muscle of your bowel. ChatGPT explains it is “not a cure for IBS, and does not address the underlying causes” but provides “temporary relief for some symptoms.”

Costing around £8.99 for 40 tablets, it is one of the pricier options on this list, and I would rather not have to rely on taking a tablet before every meal to manage my symptoms. But it did help to soothe my stomach, even though I found it wasn’t a fool proof permanent solution.

Green tea

Two blue matcha and two green matcha
Green tea contains an amino acid which soothes the gut | Credit: Unsplash

One suggestion by ChatGPT has become my daily tipple choice: green tea. ChatGPT explains that green tea contains “polyphenols and antioxidants” which have “soothing effects on the gut.” It also contains an “amino acid called L-theanine, which has been shown to promote relaxation and reduce stress.”

I’m not sure I noticed my IBS symptoms improve from this alone, but it tasted great so I will definitely be keeping it in my routine long-term. Blue matcha has become my personal favourite, simply because of the bright and unusual colour. However, the caffeine in these drinks can also trigger IBS symptoms, so I’m on the lookout for decaffeinated versions.

Probiotic tablets

Probiotics, as recommended by ChatGPT, are thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut when it’s been disrupted by an illness or treatment. Since my IBS was worsened by a long-term course of antibiotics to help heal a kidney infection last year, I thought these would be perfect for me.

Even though you can get probiotics in your diet from foods such as yoghurt, I opted to take them as strawberry flavoured chewable tablets. I didn’t notice much of a difference when taking these for only a week, which is unsurprising as Medical News Today mentioned it can take up to 8 weeks for people with IBS to see benefits. ChatGPT says that they “restore the gut microbial balance” and “enhance the gut barrier function.”

Ginger shot

Orange liquid in small glasses
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects have led it to be used for IBS | Credit: Unsplash

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects have led it to be used by many as a treatment for IBS. ChatGPT told me that “it has been used for centuries to aid digestion” as it “helps to stimulate digestive enzymes.” I used to eat ginger biscuits to soothe my stomach aches as a child, so I had high hopes for this one.

The ginger shot wasn’t the nicest drink I’ve ever tasted, with a very strong, acidic flavour, but since it was only a small volume of liquid, it was bearable. Starting the morning with a soothed and relaxed stomach was worth the slight wince on my face when I swallowed it.

L-glutamine supplements

When I took to TikTok to search for gut health fixes, L-glutamine is a supplement that came up repeatedly. ChatGPT backed this up: it explains that it is an amino acid which has been “studied for its potential benefits in managing symptoms of IBS” and sustains the balance of the gut microbiome.

The supplement comes in the form of white capsules, roughly the size of a Paracetamol tablet, that I took once daily. I didn’t notice much of a difference immediately after taking these unfortunately, but hopefully they are working their magic internally and I will benefit from their effects in the long-term.

Kombucha

Someone taking kombucha bottle out of fridge
Kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent tea drink | Credit: Unsplash

I wanted to try a fermented food during this week long journey, as they were recommended to me by ChatGPT. From the wide variety, including kimchi and sauerkraut, I settled on kombucha, a fermented, lightly effervescent, sweetened black tea drink with multiple flavours to choose from.

ChatGPT says that it is “rich in beneficial bacteria and yeast” and “digestive enzymes” as well as “anti-inflammatory products”. I tried three different combination flavours: mango and zuzu, pineapple and ginger, and apple, cucumber and mint. Guess what? Not only were they all delicious and fizzy but they did not cause bloating afterwards.

They have permanently reserved a spot in my fridge from now.

Vegetarian diet

ChatGPT says that the effectiveness of a vegetarian diet for reducing IBS symptoms “may vary depending on the individual,” so I wasn’t too hopeful going into this one because the research wasn’t as sturdy as other remedies on this list. But cutting out meat from my diet has transformed my IBS symptoms drastically in the past week.

I no longer have to deal with stomach cramps every time I eat a meal and I don’t have to run to the bathroom afterwards either. This was the biggest surprise, and the biggest success of the week, and I don’t see myself going back to eating meat ever again.