IBS Awareness Month provides the opportunity for individuals, businesses and communities to promote understanding of the diagnosis and treatment issues surrounding Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Many people across the UK suffer with the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and these can develop at any age, although they usually arise between the ages of 15 and 40. The common disorder is characterised by long term digestive discomfort.
With ‘worldwide prevalence estimated at 9% to 23%’*, IBS Awareness Month helps sufferers know that they aren’t alone and feel empowered to seek the help that is available to them.
The symptoms of IBS can have a debilitating effect on quality of life. That’s why, this IBS Awareness Month, we want to help raise the profile of the medically recognised gut disorder – providing support to help sufferers identify the problem, and offering dietary guidance for symptom management.
How do I know if I have IBS?
The following symptoms, with varying severity, could indicate the existence of IBS:
• Abdominal pain
• Stomach distension
• Bowel dysfunction (loose bowels, constipation or a fluctuation between the two)
However, it’s important to know these symptoms can also be a sign of other underlying conditions with more serious repercussions. Therefore, it’s imperative that anyone experiencing any of the above problems should consult a Doctor to rule out any other health problems. For more information on the signs and symptoms of food intolerance, head to our IBS page.
How can I live with IBS?
With no instant cure, coping with IBS can seem difficult at first. However an answer to improving digestive function lies in learning to regulate stress and avoid certain ‘trigger’ foods to help reduce and manage symptoms.
When managing IBS, it’s really important to understand exactly what foods are causing it. Whilst sufferers might experience similar symptoms, the causes can be extremely varied. That’s because our reactions to food are as individual as our personalities – so your dietary requirements are likely to differ from those around you.
One of the most notable ways to control the onset of IBS symptoms is by following a diet that consists of low FODMAP foods for a short time – most nutritional therapists recommend a period of 2 months. FODMAP stands for ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols’ and describes particular types of carbohydrate and sugars which are poorly absorbed in the small intestine; sometimes resulting in trapped water and the production of gas. Some examples of high FODMAP foods include asparagus, avocado and cheese, but foods such as polenta, fish and butternut squash are more IBS-friendly.
Avoiding these food types has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms for around 70% of IBS sufferers who have tried a low FODMAP diet. However, as mentioned, it’s important to find out what agrees/doesn’t agree with your body.
Our test can help to identify your own personal ‘food fingerprint’; providing a personalised list of low FODMAP foods. This could be the first step in optimising your diet to improve your health and wellbeing.