irritable bowel syndrome treatment
Irritable bowel syndrome and the low fodmap diet
At Newcastle physiotherapy, we have a specialist fodmap-trained dietitian, who can give you tailor-made advice for ibs using the low fodmap diet.
What is ibs?
One in seven people in the UK, suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) – a chronic condition of the digestive system, which includes symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas and diarrhoea or constipation or both. these symptoms may happen on a daily basis, vary from person to person, and come and go without any explanation. Often, the symptoms are affected by anxiety, stress and a busy, hectic lifestyle and at times may be debilitating for the sufferer.
- Abdominal (tummy) pain, cramping or discomfort
- Wind or flatulence
- A change in bowel habit (diarrhoea, constipation or both)
The cause of ibs is not fully understood and, until recently, there has been little effective treatment. ibs sufferers often feel that the food they eat affects their symptoms, but may find it difficult to identify these dietary triggers, especially during a ‘flare-up’, when their gut is particularly sensitive.
The low fodmap diet
The low fodmap diet was pioneered in australia and has been scientifically proven to provide symptom relief in ibs sufferers. recent research has shown that 76% of people with ibs found an improvement in their symptoms, following a low fodmap diet, when they received guidance from a specialist fodmap-trained dietitian.
What are fodmaps?
fodmap is an acronym for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols. these are a group of carbohydrates that are found in everyday foods, such as wheat, certain dairy products, honey, onions, garlic and other fruit and vegetables. They are poorly absorbed by the gut and rapidly fermented by the bowel bacteria, leading to an increase in the amount of gas and water produced in the large intestine. For some individuals with ibs, this leads to symptoms of pain, bloating, discomfort, excessive wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
How will the dietitian help me?
Initially the dietitian will assess your symptoms and dietary intake and give you individualised advice on how to reduce the fodmaps in your diet. This will include comprehensive written information on how to avoid these foods, along with suitable alternatives.
Four to eight weeks is usually enough time to identify if your symptoms respond to a low fodmap diet, during which the dietitian will provide you with email/phone support to get you through the initial stages. Following this, you will receive at least two follow up appointments (up to 45 minutes) to help you to reintroduce high fodmap foods back into your diet. This is a really important part of the process, as it helps identify your own tolerance level to individual fodmap groups – some people are more sensitive to certain fodmaps than others. the dietitian will guide you through this process, making sure that your diet is not unnecessarily restricted, and that you are eating as wide a variety of foods as possible.
Please note: the symptoms of ibs are similar to those seen in other gastrointestinal disorders, such as coeliac disease, crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is important that you don’t ‘self-diagnose’ and seek medical guidance to rule out other causes before restricting your diet unnecessarily.