Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal condition, affecting an estimated 15% of the population.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms may include abdominal pain, wind, bloating and altered bowel habits. Many people suffer diarrhoea, others constipation and some suffer from a combination of both.
Unfortunately in many people, the cause of IBS is unknown. The bowel appears to be oversensitive, with symptoms resulting from a variety of possible triggers. These can vary from person to person, as too can the severity and frequency of symptoms. In some people, factors such as stress, diet and infection can bring on or aggravate symptoms.
Identifying the trigger for your IBS is essential in treating the condition. Treatment may include three different types of management:
How Can Diet Help IBS?
If dietary triggers are identified to cause symptoms in IBS, you may benefit from modifying your diet. Certain foods may be a contributing factor, but these can vary from person to person. Dietary restrictions may mean that you are at risk of an inadequate intake of all of the essential daily nutrients. An Accredited Practising Dietitian will assist you to ensure your diet is nutritionally adequate.
Each person with IBS may have differing dietary triggers. Common dietary issues for IBS include:
High fat diets can often aggravate symptoms of IBS. A trial of a low fat diet may improve symptoms.
Increasing fibre is beneficial in most people with IBS, however, it is important to note that wheat bran fibre has been shown to increase symptoms in some people with IBS. For others, an increase in fibre is neccesary to avoid constipation. The best sources of fibre include psyllium, legumes, lentils, rice, fruits and vegetables. Always increase fibre gradually and have plenty of water everyday.
Caffeine can stimulate the bowel and worsen symptoms in those with a diarrhoea predominant IBS. Trial a reduction of caffeine intake, i.e. coffee, cola and energy drinks.
Intolerance to certain poorly absorbed sugars collectively termed FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Diisaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) can cause symptoms of IBS. FODMAPs include lactose, fructose, polyols, fructo-oligosaccharides and gala-oligosaccharides. If this is suspected, speak to an accredited practising dietician who is experienced in IBS and FODMAPs.
Coeliac Disease should always be investigated prior to diagnosis of IBS.
Some artificial sweeteners (e.g. the polyols sorbitol, mannitol) can cause symptoms of abdominal bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea. This type of sweetener is often used in sugar-free confectionery and sugar-free gum.
The role of probiotics (good bacteria) for bowel health is an interesting area of research and positive health benefits are emerging. Including sources of probiotics, for example yoghurt, in the diet may alter the bowel bacteria, which may in turn improve IBS symptoms.
Orgran products can be ideal for those with IBS. They are wholesome, nutritious foods that can provide the foundation of a well balanced diet. The entire Orgran range is wheat free. Orgran Essential Fibre range means it has never been easier or more delicious to add fibre to your diet. Our nutritionists have created an exciting range of high fibre foods neccesary for better health and wellbeing. Try Orgran Essential Fibre pasta with 16% dietary fibre.
This information was provided for general use only. Please seek medical advice from a GP or health professional before considering undertaking any diet.