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Irritable bowel syndrome

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal condition, affecting 15-20% of the population with symptoms including abdominal pain/discomfort, wind, bloating, distension and altered bowel habits.

These symptoms are also common in other gastrointestinal disorders such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis) and as such, it is important that your GP or specialist has ruled these out prior to confirming IBS.

IBS symptoms can start at any age. Common triggers include gastroenteritis, antibiotic use and gastrointestinal surgery, but many sufferers cannot associate their IBS with a cause. It is likely that IBS symptoms are caused by a disruption to the intestinal microflora (bacteria). Stress can be a contributing factor for some, but not all IBS sufferers. There is strong evidence that diet plays a role in the exacerbation of symptoms. Our dietitians can examine your diet for the following:

  • Fibre
    • There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Depending on your symptom profile and your current fibre intake, the dietitian may need to increase or decrease your fibre intake or encourage a certain type of fibre to manage your symptoms
    • Evidence suggests that short chain carbohydrates in the diet can exacerbate IBS symptoms. These include fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols grouped under the term FODMAPs. Research has demonstrated that a low FODMAP diet improves IBS symptoms in the majority of cases. FODMAP ingestion increases gas and fluid delivery through the bowel contributing to wind, bloating, pain and altered bowel habits
  • Fluid
    • Adequate fluid intake in the form of water is vital for bowel health. This may required attention, particularly if you suffer from constipation
  • Other
    • Other dietary factors such as caffeine, alcohol, gluten and fats, as well as physical activity may need to be manipulated to obtain symptomatic relief.