In the UK we have 15 million people suffering the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 50-60% of those visiting the GP with these symptoms are referred to a specialist and around 95% of these have negative results. This is a large burden on the NHS in terms of costs, but more importantly, many of us could avoid putting ourselves through the testing process if we had a little more knowledge on how we could help ourselves.
IBS is inconvenient to some while debilitating to others. The symptoms range from being a mere discomfort to being severely painful. It can be annoying, it can alter our mood and it can be frustrating when we cannot find the trigger, as there is often no obvious pattern. IBS can alter who we are, who we used to be and who we would like to be.
As a practitioner I know there are many ways to help manage these symptoms but people are often unsure where to find this information. As a result we reach for medication instead and in my experience this is not always the answer.
Why do we suffer IBS?
Firstly, there’s often a family weakness. It may be a parent, grandparent or even a cousin who had a ‘funny tummy’. Then there are food intolerances that we don’t know about, the use of prescribed and over the counter medications along with street drugs and alcohol. Throw into the mix emotional, mental and physical stresses together with abdominal surgery, being born by caesarean section, food poisoning, high sugar intake and poor food choices and we find we are on a downward spiral to poor gut health generally.
Any one of the above can disrupt our delicate internal balance. Even if we do not start off with a weakness, if we keep on making poor choices for long enough, we most definitely will end up with discomfort of some sort.
IBS often rears its head during times of emotion and stress so find ways of managing this. Many find the FODMAP list of foods helpful, see IBS Network link below. Cutting out gluten and dairy is another, as well as supporting your digestive health with various good quality supplements such as probiotics and digestive enzymes.