Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder more commonly affecting women, with symptoms normally first appearing before the age of 35.
The main symptoms experienced by people with IBS are:
– Abdominal pain
– Alternating bowel habits (constipation and diarrhoea)
– Distension, and
– Excessive flatulence
However, the symptoms of IBS are similar to other gastrointestinal conditions. Therefore appropriate investigations need to be undertaken to determine a diagnosis of IBS by your General Practitioner or Gastroenterologist. Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate management strategies can be implemented.
There is currently no known cause of IBS, however, the pathogenesis, or development of IBS within the body, has been attributed to:
– Altered gastrointestinal motility
– Visceral hypersensitivity
– Post-infectious reactivity
– Brain-gut interactions
– Serotonin dysfunction
– Alteration in the gastrointestinal microbiome
– Bacterial overgrowth
– Food sensitivity
– Carbohydrate malabsorption
– Intestinal inflammation
Along with the physical symptoms of IBS, individuals also experience an impact on their quality of life. Symptoms like persistent bloating can have negative impacts on self-esteem, added stress when leaving the house due to uncertainty of needing a bathroom. Socialising can be a stressful experience, as activities like going out for a meal with friends or on a date, can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety as to whether what you consume will cause an IBS episode.
Working with a Nutritionist to identify your dietary triggers can help you effectively manage IBS.
Cure for IBS?
There isn’t a cure for IBS, but there are dietary and lifestyle tools which you can implement to help you take control of your symptoms. Each individual with IBS will have a unique experience with the condition, so management techniques should be tailored to your individual needs.
In saying that, there is a dietary intervention that has shown a 50-86% success rate in improving symptoms of IBS. The diet is called the low FODMAP diet and was established by MONASH University in Melbourne, Australia. The diet is a 4-6 week-long elimination of foods high in FODMAPs, followed by a rechallenge and reintroduction phase. To ensure correct implementation and compliance with the diet, it is recommended to work with a Nutritionist experienced in the area.
If you have tried the low FODMAP diet and it didn’t work for you, don’t be discouraged as there are other dietary and lifestyle strategies that may work for you to ease your IBS symptoms.
Take control of IBS today and book a consultation with our Nutritionist.