What is it? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common disorder that affects digestion, mainly by interfering with normal functions of the large intestine. It is estimated that up to 1 in 5 people are affected by IBS. It is an unusual condition in that there is no test, scan or procedure that can confirm that you have it. IBS is a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ meaning that other problems like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (or other digestive problems) are ruled out first, and eventually you are left with the diagnosis of IBS.
Each person with IBS can struggle with different symptoms.
IBS symptoms include:
- Bloating and gas
- Cramping and abdominal pain
- Diarrhoea or constipation, or both
- Changes in stool colour and appearance, including having loose stools or mucus in stools
What causes it? There are many different causes of IBS, ranging from food intolerances to stress. Experts believe that factors that contribute to the development of IBS include: alterations in the gut microbiome, intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut syndrome), impaired gut-immune function, problems with motility, gut-brain interactions and psychological disturbances.
Some common underlying causes and triggers of IBS include:
- Eating a highly-processed, low fibre diet
- Food allergies or intolerances/sensitivities
- Inflammation and free radical oxidative stress which can damage the intestines
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Leaky gut
- Use of certain medications that can cause constipation or diarrhoea
- Poor lifestyle choices such as drug use, smoking, and high alcohol consumption
- SIBO, gastroenteritis, or infections of the digestive system
- Hormonal changes, such as menopause or shifts during the menstrual cycle
- Sedentary lifestyle
So you now have a label for the symptoms you are experiencing, which in itself can be a relief; however, you may believe there is no cure for IBS. So where does that leave you and what do you do now? It is not a case of living with the symptoms for the rest of your life! Instead take the first step to improve your digestive health.
Contact Feel Good Nutrition and discuss your symptoms with a nutritional therapist who can offer advice on a diet plan, specific supplements and lifestyle changes that can all play an important role in IBS treatment.