Bloating? Excess gas? Abdominal pain?
Could it be IBS? Check out my interview on Breakfast.
Plus… here are some extra helpful points:
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT IS IBS?
IBS is mostly commonly diagnosed when all other issues with similar symptoms have been ruled out. If you have the symptoms of IBS you NEED (I cannot emphasise that enough!) to make sure you get checked to ensure you don’t have other medical issues that can present in a similar way. These include coeliac disease, bowel cancer, endometriosis and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s/ulcerative colitis). Your GP will be able to screen you and send you for the correct tests to rule these things out if needed.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not eliminate gluten as a trial before you go to your GP. If you do, you may risk getting a false negative on a coeliac test. We commonly see people at Mission Nutrition who have gone gluten free and/or diary free in an effort to manage gut issues, but often this is only dealing with a tiny part of the issue and is unlikely to be the best long term way to manage.
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Bowel changes (can be constipation, diarrhoea or alternating)
WHAT CAUSES IBS?
The exact cause is unclear but current evidence suggests that the following may play a part:
Altered communication between the brain and the gut (they are connected by what we health geeks call the gut-brain axis. Stress plays its part here, altering the messages to the gut! Ever have a nervous poo?! Or that feeling of butterflies? That is your gut and brain talking!
- Gut hypersensitivity
- Altered gut motility
- Imbalance of bacteria in the gut
WHAT CAN HELP?
1) Some basic changes are good to try:
- Avoiding eating on the go
- Chewing your food well
- Limiting coffee/alcohol/high fat meals
- Having adequate fibre and water
2) THE LOW FODMAP DIET
Effective for around 3 out of 4 IBS sufferers
FODMAP stands for: Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols, basically some short chain carbs that exist in a HUGE variety of foods.
FODMAPs are part of the carbohydrates food group. They’re the favourite food for bacteria that live naturally in the digestive system.
Foods high in FODMAP carbohydrates can cause the bowel to swell by drawing in more fluid and producing excess gas when they are fermented by the bacteria found in the digestive system. This causes the symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
More on FODMAPS and the groups here.
This is NOT a diet where you eliminate all potential problem foods for IBS and stay on it…it is about finding out WHICH of the foods are triggers for you and then finding your level of tolerance to them. For example, it may be that milk is an issue for you but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can never have milk again, it might just mean milk will be ok in tea, or a splash here and there, but if you have 2 lattes a day, you might have problems. You NEED some of these carbs/fibre to feed the bacteria in your gut so cutting them all out is NOT good news.
There is a 3 stage process to figure out what your problem foods are: 1) Elimination 2) Challenges 3) Reintroduction. We do this ALL the time with people at Mission Nutrition, so if you are keen for help with this, my team can help. If you have health insurance, check your policy as you might be able to claim back the cost. You can book here.
3) PSYCHOLOGICAL THERAPIES
- People who have suffered early life trauma (such as abuse) are more likely to suffer from IBS
- People with IBS are more likely to have a psychological disorder (and vice versa)
- Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms in some people
Given the relationship between stress, anxiety and IBS, it is not surprising that research has shown that psychological therapies can effectively treat both psychological symptoms and physical symptoms of IBS.
Things that can help:
- Gut directed hypnotherapy
- Mindfulness training
- Stress management techniques including managing your breathing
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
Hopefully that helps 😊 If you need individualised advice, my team are here for you!!