Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition with a group of symptoms that affects the large intestine (colon). It is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal (stomach & intestine) disorder. Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. In an IBS patient, the bowel fails to function properly. It is associated with problems in communication between the gut and the brain. The sensory nerve endings in the bowels of IBS patients are more sensitive causing pain. It occurs more frequently in young adults and more women than men.
There is no specific test that confirms the diagnosis of IBS. A doctor can usually diagnose IBS from the typical symptoms. The first step in diagnosing IBS is a medical history and a physical exam. Depending on the symptoms, other tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. Blood tests, stool samples and X-rays can help rule out other diseases that mimic IBS. It rarely requires hospitalisation.
Sensitivity to certain foods such as gluten and dairy
Disturbances in the gut bacteria
Certain sugars that are poorly absorbed by the intestine
Psychological trauma, stress & anxiety
Common Food Triggers:
High fructose fruits like prunes, watermelons, pears, etc.
High fructose corn syrup
Garlic and onions
Legumes like beans, kidney beans, chickpeas
Foods high in fat content
Some dairy products like milk and cheese
Some grains like wheat, barley and rye
Nuts like cashews and pistachios
IBS treatments aim to relieve symptoms by avoiding the foods that trigger it.
This in most people can be managed through a proper diet, stress reduction and lifestyle changes. It is important and recommended to work through with a dietitian since the diet can be a restrictive one.
A qualified person in the field of nutrition and dietetics will have a better understanding on how to guide one with an appropriate diet considering the individual’s symptoms.
Severe cases need to be treated with medications prescribed by a Gastroenterologist (doctors specialising in digestive problems).
Physical activity can help in better digestion process and possibly help in alleviating episodes of IBS by the increase in endorphins - the happy hormones.
Stress Reduction through meditation, hobbies, self-care time, or alternative therapies may help in reducing the number of recurrences of IBS.
About the Author: Preetha Sanjeev has teaching experience of over 15years and has completed her Kindergarten & Montessori Teachers Training. She also holds the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers. Preetha has a passion for fitness and nutrition and holds multiple certifications in both. She is a qualified pre & postnatal yoga instructor, with advanced certification as a yoga instructor for children. Her understanding of the subject matter and easy writing skills make her an invaluable part of the Juvenate Team. For more information about us, please visit us at www.juvenatewellbeing.org.