What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort and it is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows that IBS is more common in women than in men and begins in young adulthood. Some IBS patients experience weight loss because they avoid foods that may trigger IBS symptoms. Only a few people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Excess gas; Nausea; Constipation or diarrhea; Abdominal pain; Cramping or bloating that is partially relieved by passing a bowel movement.
Factors that appear to play a role include:
Inflammation of the intestines: Some people with IBS have an increased number of immune system cells in their intestines. This is associated with diarrhea and pain.
Bacteria: IBS can be associated with an excess of bacteria (bacterial growth) in the intestines. Digestion problems: The body moves food through the digestive system by squeezing and relaxing the intestine muscles. When food moves too slowly through the digestive system, it causes constipation. When food moves too quickly through the digestives system, it causes diarrhea.
IBS triggers: These can include – Fried and fatty foods; Chocolate; Beverages that contain caffeine; Alcohol; Fizzy Drinks and Stress. IBS is a chronic condition with no cure; lifestyle and dietary changes are recommended.
Hints and tips:
Avoid foods that are high in fat. Meals that are high in fat can cause strong colon contractions which can lead to cramps and diarrhea in people with IBS. Increase your fibre intake which can help improve symptoms of constipation. Whole-grain breads and cereal, beans, vegetables and fruits are good sources of fibre. Avoid eating foods that are hard to digest e.g. garlic, onions, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Stay away from alcohol as is a big trigger for people with IBS as it can be dehydrating and can affect digestion. Chocolate can trigger IBS because of its caffeine concentration and high sugar content. Some people may experience constipation after consuming chocolate. Avoid fried foods as the high-fat content in these foods can be hard on the systems of people with IBS. Limit your intake of dairy. Consider grilling or baking your favourite foods as a healthier option.
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