How diet can help manage symptoms of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome

Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and excess wind … sound familiar?

They may not be your usual topic of casual conversation, but for sufferers of medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) these symptoms are an uncomfortable and painful part of everyday life.

What exactly is medically diagnosed IBS?

A common disorder of the colon or large bowel, medically diagnosed IBS is estimated to affect around one in five Australians at some time in their lives.

For reasons unknown, the condition is more common in women, often starts in the late teens or 20s and can come and go throughout a person’s lifespan.

What triggers this condition?

While the exact cause of medically diagnosed IBS is unknown, environmental factors such as emotional stress, infection, changes in diet or routine, and food intolerances can all be triggers.

Living with the condition can be seriously disruptive to everyday life.

Living with the symptoms of medically diagnosed IBS

There’s no known cure for medically diagnosed IBS but there are some ways to manage it to help make life more comfortable.

First, it’s important to see your doctor for a medical diagnosis of IBS and to rule out other conditions that may have many of the same symptoms.

Then it’s a matter of cracking down on or reducing the triggers. Some studies have shown a diet low in FODMAPS can help relieve symptoms of medically diagnosed IBS.

irritable bowel syndrome

What are FODMAPs?

If you’ve had issues with your gut it’s highly likely you’ve heard of this acronym.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.

These are different types of carbohydrates (sugars) found naturally in many foods and food additives that aren’t absorbed properly in the gut.

Sometimes even nutritious foods can trigger symptoms if they’re high in FODMAPS.

Common high FODMAP foods include asparagus, celery, sweet corn, legumes, apples, pears, mango, watermelon, yoghurt, cow’s milk, ice cream and wheat-based breads, cereal and pasta.

Should I avoid all FODMAPs?

The FODMAP diet was developed by a team of researchers at Australia’s own Monash University to provide relief from medically diagnosed IBS.

It recommends those with the condition identify their trigger foods by avoiding high-FODMAP foods for a period of time.

An accredited dietitian can advise on replacement foods so you’re not missing out on important nutrients.

Once high-FODMAP trigger foods are identified, the diet can be liberated and personalised to each individual.

It’s not a forever diet

You’ll be able to reintroduce some FODMAPs as you go along if your body can tolerate them.

There are an increasing number of low-FODMAP nutritional snacks and supplements available to enrich your diet and help keep you healthy as you sort out what works for you.

Stress management may also help control symptoms. Every person is different, so don’t forget to keep talking to your GP or dietitian if you are still unsure.

This post is brought to you by Nestlé Health Science, makers of ProNourish® Natural Balance Fibre.

Always read the label, use only as directed, if symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.