Irritable Bowel Syndroms (IBS)
IBS is a condition that affects around 20% of the UK population and 1 in 3 of us experience symptoms during our lifetimes. Whilst some suffer occasional discomfort and pain, it is estimated 1 in 10 people have severe pains leading to them seeking medical advice.
IBS is the disturbance of the large or small intestine, affecting motor function, sensation and secretion. The brain regulates these processes and some refer to IBS as the brain-gut disorder.
What causes IBS?
Whilst the exact course is not known, it is a heightened sensitivity of the stomach. This could be caused by a reaction to certain foods or the effects of a prior illness which may have affected the stomach.
Research suggests that IBS symptoms are more prominent and bought on by stress.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
- Common symptoms will include painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea or constipation
- In worst-case scenarios you may experience both with uncomfortable bloating
- Whilst this can occur at any age, it is most common between 20- 30. If you think you have IBS, check if you have the following:
- Persistent changes in bowel habits – you should be regular
- Red blood or mucus in stools
- Smaller and narrower stools than normal
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Feeling bloated
- Frequent and potentially painful wind
- Unexplained weight loss
Are there any diets recommended to aid IBS?
The FODMAP diet has proved successful in reducing symptoms of IBS. This stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols, which are a collection of carbohydrates.
Foods high in these FODMAPs result in elevated levels of liquid and gas that causes pain and bloating. If you focus your diet on being low in FODMAP’s it should help reduce symptoms.
Foods low in FODMAP include; bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, lime, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, maple syrup, butter, hard cheese, lactose-free milk and ice cream, rice milk, sorbet, carrots, celery, corn, aubergines, green beans, lettuce, parsnips, tomatoes, spring onions (green) and gluten-free products.
What foods should I eat to aid IBS?
- Probiotic drinks and live yogurt Oily fish and flaxseed
- Foods low in fibre
- Low FODMAP foods Peppermint
What should I avoid to prevent IBS?
- Caffeinated drinks including alcohol and soft drinks
- Foods high in soluble fibre such as bran based cereals
- Don’t exceed 3 portions of fruit a day
- Sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea
- Processed food