Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition of the gut which may result in a variety of uncomfortable and persistent symptoms including abdominal pain and bloating, wind as well as diarrhoea and/or constipation. It is more common in females than males and often occurs in the younger individuals before the age of 40 years. It is important however to rule out other causes of the symptoms such as coeliac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease

The dietary treatment for IBS varies greatly as the foods which help to reduce or control symptoms are different for different people. Some general guidelines for people with IBS include:

  • Eat less “windy” vegetables such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, onion, beans and lentils if your symptoms include wind and bloating
  • Eat less dairy foods such as milk, ice-cream and some yoghurts. However these should only be limited in individuals who present with lactose (sugar in milk) intolerance
  • Increase your dietary fibre intake gradually and drink plenty of fluids if you suffer from constipation
  • Eat less foods with artificial sweeteners e.g. aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol
  • Drink less alcohol, caffeine containing and fizzy drinks if they are contributing to the symptoms
  • Eat slowly in a relaxed atmosphere and chew your food well
  • If you are stressed take time to relax
  • Make one change at a time to see which strategy has helped
  • Keep a food and symptoms diary which can be very useful to determine which foods are responsible for the symptoms and which strategy has helped.
  • Give your bowels time to adjust to any changes

An accredited practicing dietitian can help you manage the symptoms of IBS and ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate. If your symptoms a trial a diet low in short-chain carbohydrate and sugars are known as low FODMAP diet may be warranted.

How does low FODMAP diet work?

It reduces poorly absorbed sugars to control gastrointestinal symptoms. These poorly absorbed sugars drag water into the bowel which can contribute to diarrhea in certain individuals. In others when these sugars reach large bowel they are fermented by the bacteria there producing gas which leads to wind, cramping and bloating.

FODMAPs – Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols