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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Month By Isha Patel

IBS Awareness Month

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects about 12% of the global population. The month of April is IBS awareness month focused on IBS diagnosis, treatment and quality of life. 

What is IBS?

IBS is defined as a chronic condition with many symptoms that affect your digestive system, particularly the large intestine (colon). The primary role of the large colon is to absorb water and nutrients from partially digested foods as well as excreting unwanted material from the body. The muscles in the colon contract and relax to remove undigested foods; if the colon muscles do not work the movement through will not be efficient.

There is increasing evidence that the GI symptoms experienced in IBS may be caused by one of more of the following:

  • Imbalance of bacteria living in the gut (microbiota)
  • Irregularity in gut motility
  • Improper functioning of the immune system (over or under active)
  • Changes in bowel inflammation (body responses to protect us from infection)

These changes can impact how the digestive system functions and how the brain senses what is happening in the bowels. 

Symptoms of IBS include stomach cramps, pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. 

IBS is divided into subgroups based on your bowel habits; 

  • IBS-C with constipation 
  • IBS-D with diarrhoea
  • IBS-M with mixed-bowel habit – diarrhoea and constipation 

The large intestine is the main component of the colon and contains the highest number of bacteria which can survive and repopulate by anaerobically digesting our food. The gut microbiota improves the host’s ability to extract and store energy from the diet, exert beneficial effects on bile salt, lipoprotein, and cholesterol metabolism. 

Nutrition & Lifestyle Strategies for IBS

Here are some tips for managing IBS through diet and lifestyle:

  • Eat mindfully and take your time with meals.
  • Space fruit intake 2-3 hours apart and limit to one portion per meal or snack.
  • Choose cooked vegetables over raw for easier digestion.
  • Opt for baking, roasting, steaming, boiling, or sautéing to avoid GI discomfort.
  • Limit coffee, caffeinated teas, alcohol, carbonated drinks, spicy, and greasy foods.
  • Be cautious with sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, especially if experiencing diarrhoea.
  • Stay physically active to reduce gas, bloating, stress, and anxiety.
  • Manage stress through various strategies like meditation, yoga, therapy, or biofeedback.

If you’d like to discuss your gut health, book a consultation with us.

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