Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diet

What is IBS?

IBS is a common digestive condition, with symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort, wind, bloating and a change in bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation). IBS affects up to 1 in 5 people, mostly women. Medical experts think IBS is related to increased gut sensitivity or altered digestive function. It can develop after a stomach bug, antibiotics or a time of extreme stress. Certain foods or your period might make your symptoms worse, as can stress. The symptoms of IBS can make daily life difficult.

Managing IBS through food

Small changes to your diet and lifestyle are often very effective in managing IBS. Eating in a way that works best for you will depend on the cause of your symptoms, and how you react to different foods.

If you experience frequent symptoms, temporarily reducing FODMAPs in your diet may work for you: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Found in wheat, rye, pulses, milk, yoghurt, some fruit and vegetables and sweeteners, these carbohydrates don't cause IBS but reducing them helps many people. The diet is not long term, as it can reduce good gut bacteria. Plus, many foods high in FODMAPs are healthy. Our goal is to help you find your personal tolerance, so you don't have to avoid these foods forever. But it can be tricky to eat a healthy, balanced diet in the meantime.

This is where nutritional therapy comes in. Kym’s expert advice is based on the latest evidence and personalised to you. Kym looks at the factors affecting your digestion and makes specific dietary recommendations, helping you safely reach optimal health without sacrificing good food. She can work with your GP, or help you integrate nutrition advice with positive lifestyle changes like exercise or yoga. If the low FODMAP diet is not right for you, there are many other nutrition approaches to try together – don’t give up.

So, what should I do now?

Talk to your GP first. Some medical conditions like endometriosis and coeliac disease have similar symptoms, and need to be ruled out. Then, call Kym for a free 20 minute chat and get ready to take control.