April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness month
Do you find yourself plagued with unpleasant, unpredictable and often inexplicable digestive symptoms? You are not alone! It is reported that around 20 percent of the population suffers with IBS, and cases are increasing every year. Symptoms can range from uncomfortable through to having a significant impact on your quality of life.
What is IBS?
IBS is really an umbrella term given to a collection of unexplained symptoms, which usually appear together. Increasingly common, symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person but can include the following:
- Stomach cramping
- Mucous in stools
- Tiredness and lack of energy
Symptoms often worsen during times of stress.
What causes IBS?
While the exact cause remains unknown and varies from person to person, common causes include:
- Food intolerances – some people benefit enormously from following a low FODMAP diet (see below), or perhaps you have trouble digesting lactose, or fructose.Sometimes its certain foods that trigger attacks such as spicy or greasy food, alcohol or caffeine
- Poor diet
- Poor digestion – this can include insufficient digestive enzymes
- Poor bowel habits and digestive mobility
- Bacterial imbalances
Low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are range of simple and complex sugars that are often poorly absorbed, and can trigger symptoms. Removing FODMAPs should only be done under supervision of a nutrition professional and should not be followed long term.
There is no positive test to diagnose IBS and it is usually diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out. Note that symptoms of IBS can mimic other conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), so it is important to get symptoms checked with your GP to rule these out.
How nutritional therapy can help
Dietary and lifestyle interventions and stress management can play a huge role in managing the symptoms of IBS. Identifying trigger foods (many of which are otherwise considered healthy), implementing gut healing protocols and using functional testing where appropriate can all be beneficial in establishing a programme to help support IBS.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss how Nutritional Therapy may be of help to you.