Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal disorder and is estimated to effect 10%-15% of adults worldwide.
If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS you’ve probably been told by your doctor that you need to make some dietary changes but knowing where to begin can be confusing. And if you haven’t been diagnosed yet, we recommend giving this blog post a read to make sure other conditions are ruled out.
Health Journalist and A Balanced Belly blogger, Jenna Farmer provides the lo-down on some simple changes that might well lead to a much happier gut.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Are you at risk?
Since those with IBS might follow a restricted diet or struggle with their digestion, it makes sense to consider any potential nutritional deficiencies. Studies suggest those with IBS are much more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D and that supplementing could be beneficial. Since many of us suffer with low levels of the sunshine vitamin during the winter months already, it’s certainly worth getting your levels checked with BetterYou’s testing kit.
Another key vitamin is vitamin B12. Since B12 needs a healthy gut with adequate stomach acid to be properly absorbed, it’s reasonable to consider those with IBS could be potentially running low in it. If you regular suffer from fatigue, numbness or tingling, or shortness of breath (all signs of deficiency), then talk to your doctor about getting tested and consider topping up with an intra-oral form for maximum absorption— such as BetterYou’s Boost B12. As it is absorbed through the mouth rather than relying on the digestive system.
Topping up Your Gut Bacteria
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the gut microbiome. Studies suggest this bacteria balance could become out of whack for those with IBS. Tucking into fermented foods-such as kefir and sauerkraut-can help up your intake of but you might also choose a probiotic supplement. There’s so many different supplements on the market that it’s important to do your research.
Finding Your Dietary Triggers
There’s no ‘one’ diet for IBS but keeping a food diary is a great way to figure out what foods could be bothering your belly. Some IBS sufferers find they are sensitive to lactose or gluten, however it’s important to chat to your GP before making big changes to your diet (and ruling out coeliac disease if you haven’t already). You’ve most likely heard of the low FODMAP diet—a diet that limits short chain carbohydrates that can ferment in the gut and cause bloating and other IBS symptoms. It’s been proven effective in helping manage IBS symptoms but as it’s a complex diet, it’s always best to follow it under the watchful eye of a dietician.
The ‘F’ Factor
A final thing to consider in relation to IBS is your fibre intake. We’ve all heard about how good the rough stuff can be, but the amount and type you should tuck into will vary depending on the type of IBS you have, IBS-D or IBS-C.
Many IBS-D sufferers notice they feel worse after consuming lots of insoluble fibre found in things like bran and leafy greens. Whilst those with IBS-C might find this more beneficial in getting things moving.
However, soluble fibre-a gentler form of fibre found in things like oats and bananas-is often easily tolerated in both types of IBS. Whatever you do, it’s important not to cut out fibre altogether as its vital for our overall health.
If you feel as if you can’t get enough trough your diet, Psyllium Husk is thought to help IBS symptoms. This powder swells in water to form a soothing gel that can help bulk out stools (for those with diarrhea) or work as a gentle, non-irritating laxative for constipation.