If you have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) by your doctor, ACE diets Specialist Dietitians can work with you to help you to identify the triggers of your IBS symptoms. We will work together to optimise your diet while limiting the unpleasant symptoms as much as possible. You will gain a greater understanding of your condition, its likely triggers, and what you can do to manage things and in turn you’ll start to feel more in control again.
It is a very common functional disorder of the gut. Around 1 in 5 people are affected at some stage in their life. IBS describes a wide range of symptoms that vary in type and severity from one person to another.
IBS as such, is not dangerous to your health, but it can be an embarrassing and difficult condition to live with. It is not easy to concentrate at the important meeting when you have to fear that you may have to dash for the toilet, or become so blotted that you can’t keep wind in.
Common symptoms include:
Other symptoms may include: nausea, headache, belching, poor appetite, tiredness, backache, muscle pains, quickly feeling full after eating, heartburn and bladder symptoms (an associated irritable bladder).
There is no diagnostic test that confirms IBS. Your doctor will usually diagnose IBS on the basis of the typical symptoms. The latest NICE guidelines (www.nice.org.uk/CG061) offers advice to GP’s. Guidelines state that IBS should be considered in patients with abdominal pain/discomfort stating that patients should have two out of four symptoms including: altered stool passage; abdominal bloating; symptoms made worse by eating; or passage of mucus. It also suggests that GP’s should exclude causes other than IBS by checking full blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein level and antibody testing for coeliac disease. For those with more serious symptoms, such as unexpected weight loss, rectal bleeding or a family history of bowel or ovarian cancer it is recommended that they should be referred to secondary care for investigation.
Food is often assumed to be a trigger of IBS, because symptoms are often worse after eating. Therefore people often assume that they may have an allergy to some foods. In fact, true allergies are rare and are the least likely cause of IBS. On the other hand food intolerances are one of the possible causes. There is no convincing evidence to support any of the commercially available food intolerance tests (e.g. hair test, saliva test etc.). The only reliable test to detect which foods might be the cause of your symptoms is an exclusion and re-introduction diet trial.
The recent addition to IBS treatment is FODMAP diet with around 70% success rate.
Currently there is no cure for IBS, but you can take effective steps to manage the condition.
Small changes in your lifestyle and diet can reduce the severity of IBS and sometimes even stop the symptoms altogether. Medication and psychological treatments may also help some people. Stress is often one of the triggers of IBS, therefore relaxation and exercise are important part of the treatment.
Adjusting your diet will help to control the symptoms of IBS. However, there is no “one size fits all” diet. The diet that will work best for you depends on your symptoms and how you react to different foods.
If you have been diagnosed with IBS by your doctor, ACE diets Specialist Dietitians can work with you to help you to identify the triggers of your IBS symptoms. We will work together to optimise your diet while limiting the unpleasant symptoms as much as possible. As you gain a greater understanding of your condition, its likely triggers, and what you can do to manage things, you’ll start to feel more in control again.
During the first consultation, we will explore your IBS symptoms, your current lifestyle, eating behaviour and patterns. We will ask you to keep a food and symptom diary to record whether certain foods make your condition better or worse. Based on this assessment, together we will start to identify the trigger of your symptoms and to build your individual IBS friendly diet.
If we feel that your symptoms might be due to food intolerance, but the symptom diary is insufficient to identify these foods, we will advise you on an exclusion and re-introduction diet trial or FODMAP diet.
The dietary advice will depend on your individual symptoms (e.g. constipation, bloating, diarrhoea etc) and exclusion of foods that are the trigger of the symptoms. Simply avoiding foods may not be enough, and in some cases may even lead to nutritional deficiencies which will have a further detrimental effect on your health, therefore we will also ensure that your new diet is healthy and well balanced.
The principles of dietary advice are based on British Dietetic Association guidelines: