IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a collection of symptoms all of which are related to the digestive system. Digestion begins at the mouth and ends at the anus – IBS happens in-between.
What cause IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome can occur for lots of different reasons e.g. a really stressful life, not enough sleep, lack of exercise, and eating a pretty poor diet. Symptoms can also relate to types of foods you might eat e.g. fibre, pulses, or particular fruits. It can also be caused by an oversensitive gut, an intolerance to certain foods, or a side effect of treatment for a medical condition. Careful and considered management is required, and it’s always helpful to have ruled out other conditions by having a GP appointment and blood test before you see a dietitian.
Symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhoea and constipation can be mild to severe affecting every day of every week. Whether it’s a once in a blue moon scenario or indeed a daily experience IBS is no fun. The symptoms can make you feel tired and depressed especially if you think you can’t manage them. Considering somewhere between 10-20% of the population experience symptoms regularly it’s unfortunate that many of us feel uncomfortable talking about our digestive health.
Dietitians… we talk about bowels and bloating, stomach ache and stools all the time, so don’t worry about explaining your symptoms to me, or any other health professional. The better able you are to describe what’s going on for you, the more likely we are to be able to understand what’s happening.
As a dietitian I have access to all the latest research in evidence-based strategies and management. Whether we think the issue is with lifestyle, the microbiome, your intake of high FODMAP containing foods, or perhaps fibre, my job is to apply that knowledge and understanding and guide you towards best symptom alleviation.
My own IBS story: I had my gall-bladder removed when I was 21 and ever since have experienced problems with wind, bloating and abdominal pain, when I eat particular foods. I have now learned my trigger foods, and situations, and also what helps. There are certain foods I stay away from me except in super small amounts, or if I have them I know what consequences to expect. I can’t eat too many different foods at one time e.g. at a buffet, and I can’t deal with a high fat meal like deep fried fish and chips… Too many, and too different just doesn’t suit me.