Written by health and wellness brand Innermost.
When searching for information online surrounding IBS management, you may initially become overwhelmed by the sea of information available. But what is IBS, who does it affect, can it be cured (and how)? Innermost investigates.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a highly common condition affecting the digestive system. Affecting around 15% of the population, IBS can cause debilitating symptoms depending on the severity of the condition, and this varies from person to person. If you’re suffering personally, know that you’re not alone.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Whilst there is no definitive test to determine whether you have IBS or not, there are some common symptoms that sufferers of IBS suffer from.
- Stomach cramping
- Lack of energy
- Increased flatulence
- Abdominal pain
If you’re suffering, get your pen and notepad ready. There are actionable takes you can take in helping you manage the condition, including the four listed below.
- Keep a food diary
If you’re suffering from IBS, the first thing you need to do is create your own food diary. This can be an online diary, in your favourite notebook or on the back of some spam post that has been popped through your door, but the purpose of this food diary is to make sure that you’re keeping track of everything you consume. And we mean everything.
Meals. Portion sizes. Snacks. Drinks. That sneaky packet of crisps you had when you thought no one was looking. Cigarettes. Alcohol. Coffee. You name it, you need to write it down.
This is key to establishing trends and patterns when it comes to your IBS symptoms and is a great and methodical way of identifying any areas that cause flares and make your symptoms worsen.
Once you identify your trigger foods, or areas that may be a cause for concern, you can begin to test avoiding certain food groups and types. If you’re struggling to identify any clear patterns, common trigger foods are a good place to start when it comes to diet elimination.
Common IBS trigger foods
Foods that are known to commonly trigger IBS symptoms include:
- Bread and cereal
- Processed foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Cheese and dairy
- Try the FODMAP diet
Ever heard of The FODMAP Diet? Well, you have now. FODMAP has been abbreviated down into this nifty little title, as the name is an acronym of the five short-chain carbohydrates that IBS sufferers struggle to break down in their diet.
- Fermentable (F)
- Oligosaccharides (O)
- Disaccharides (D)
- Monosaccharides (M)
- Polyols (P)
FODMAP’s are commonly found in wheat and beans, and these foods are commonly linked with the development of uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Whilst it’s important to note that not everyone will be sensitive to FODMAPs, it’s a great place to start when it comes to food elimination if you are struggling with uncomfortable bowel symptoms.
Don’t’ worry – a FODMAP diet isn’t a boring one. With foods such as proteins, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds still included, you can still achieve a healthy balanced diet through the elimination of these short-chain carbohydrates. Studies have shown great reduction in IBS related symptoms when adapting to a FODMAP-based diet, with a great increase in quality of life for sufferers of the condition reported, too.
- Incorporate probiotics into your diet
A probiotic is a live bacterium that support a healthy microbiome. Whilst ingesting a live bacteria might sound pretty daunting, don’t worry. Probiotics are nothing nasty. They are identified by their genus, species and strain, so you can be confidence in the knowledge that you aren’t going to make yourself ill by incorporating them into your diet.
Incorporating supplementations that contain probiotics such as The Digest Capsules by Innermost are a great way to achieve a healthy gut. From natural yoghurt to kefir and probiotic supplements, probiotics are incredibly easy to add into your diet on a daily basis. We recommend that you take one dose of probiotics a day and maintain this over a long period of time to achieve the best results.
- Approach a medical professional
Whether that be a dietician or the GP at your local Doctor’s surgery, we really recommend you get in touch with a medical professional to discuss your symptoms and experience.
The internet is great when it comes to seeking advice, tips and tricks, but it’s important that you seek professional medical advice when necessary. If you are struggling with symptoms that you think might be IBS, get in touch with your local medical professional as soon as possible.
They will be hugely experienced in this area and will be able to assist you, and point you in the right direction. Don’t be nervous!
That’s their job, after all.
- Ostgaard, H., Hausken, T., Gundersen, D., & El-Salhy, M. (2012). Diet and effects of diet management on quality of life and symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Molecular medicine reports, 5(6), 1382–1390.