IBS Is Not A Life Sentence

Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. Find out about causes and treatments…

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects almost 20% of Australians and is known to cause significant distress in its victims.

These distressing symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

IBS used to be thought of as a purely psychosomatic emotional disorder. This is no longer the case and it is now recognised as being caused by a combination of your genetics, food triggers, environmental factors and gut microbiome health.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

My patients describe lots of different symptoms.

Imagine what life would be like if you experienced  extreme bloating lasting all day, sharp abdominal pains, flatulence and diarrhoea for months on end?

Perhaps you have identified milk and lactose as obvious dietary triggers, however do you know if you are also reactive to other foods?

Is there a connection between your stress levels and worsening digestive function?

What causes people to suffer from IBS?

Research shows multiple factors. These include disturbances in the intestinal bacterial balance (microbiota), inflammation and impaired gut lining, visceral hypersensitivity, stress and dietary sensitivities – all of which represent key therapeutic targets for the management of IBS.

The aim is to address as many of these factors as possible and help patients avoid a lifelong sentence of IBS.

Visceral Hypersensitivity

One of the reasons IBS sufferers struggle to tolerate FODMAP containing foods is due to a phenomenon known as visceral hypersensitivity whereby they experience a lower threshold for pain onset and a greater pain level, even in response to processes that occur as a normal part of digestion.

In a healthy gut, there is a lot of information that is successfully processed at an unconscious level in the central nervous system.

In IBS, it is thought that the nervous system is overloaded with too much information and that this results in a vicious cycle of chronic pain.

Psychological therapies have been shown to help a number of people with this condition.

A Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet eliminates Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyol-containing foods that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine leading to fermentation.

The key word is fermentable.

Sugars and small carbohydrates that cannot be easily absorbed stay in your intestines where they are fermented by bacteria. This results in a build-up of uncomfortable gas, bloating and fluid retention.

Getting to the Guts of It

An integrative medical and naturopathic approach should ‘first do no harm’.  The first step is removal of potential dietary triggers using a low FODMAP approach.

The second step is introducing herbs and nutrients to repair gastrointestinal inflammation and rebalance microbiota disturbances. For example, glutamine, Vitamin D, anti-inflammatory herbs and probiotics are included in most integrative medical protocols.

Most people find that their symptoms start improving within two to three weeks of commencing treatment.

After six to eight weeks of being on the low FODMAP diet, each of the FODMAP Groups are reintroduced individually to work out the specifics of what can be tolerated.

Your goal is increased dietary flexibility and an increased quality of life in future.