What is IBS ?

IBS is considered a functional intestinal disorder in which the normal digestive function of the bowel is disrupted. This leads to consistent uncomfortable ailments such as abdominal pain and other intestinal symptoms like diarrhea, constipation and flatulence that can range from mild to severe.

 

Symptoms of IBS

The intestinal malfunction does not show any visible or measurable organic damages of the intestinal tract. IBS patients usually suffer from a mixture of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. The main criteria used to diagnose IBS is the experience of a reoccurring abdominal pain or cramps. According to the most recent publication of the Rome Criteria one is diagnosed with IBS if recurrent abdominal pain (1 day/week in the last 3 months) is associated with two or more of the following criteria: 
 

 Strained
Defecation

 A change in
frequency of stool

 A change in form (appearance)
and consistency of the stool
(watery, lumpy, hard, dry)

Other health problems that share similar symptoms with IBS

Celiac disease

Food intolerances

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Crohn’s disease

Ulcerative colitis

 

 

Subtypes of IBS

IBS can be divided into 3 main subtypes that can be identified based on the frequency of stool passage and the stool consistency (loose or hard stools) as well as appearance.

 

 

IBS-D

Diarrhea-predominant IBS patients suffer mainly from bouts of diarrhea. IBS-Diarrhea patients experience frequent feelings of urgency, abdominal strain as well as loose and watery bowl movements. These occur 3 or more times within a day. 

IBS-C

Constipation-predominant IBS patients mostly complain about aggravated bowel movements. Often bowel movements are reduced to less than 3 times a day.

 

IBS-M

Mixed-type IBS patients experience alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation. This can occur monthly, weekly or even daily.

Causes for IBS

While the exact cause for the development of IBS is not fully understood,researches try to explain the
underlying multifactorial causation for IBS and are coming up with the following hypothesis: 
 
 
 

Disrupted intestinal motility
Hypersensitivity
Inflammation along the digestive tract
Impaired gut-brain communication
Leaky gut syndrome
Imbalanced microflora

"A man may esteem himself happy when that
which is his food is also his medicine." 

-Henry David Thoreau-

 

Ways to counteract IBS

IBS is definitely not an issue you are dealing with alone. Improving IBS is not a one-way approach since there is no one universal therapy that works for every IBS patient equally. IBS requires a personalized combination of various treatment approaches including lifestyle changes and dietary measures. Note that before starting your own therapy strategy, it is always best to consult your health practitioner in order to confirm a diagnosis of IBS and to discuss further related steps.

Diet and IBS

Eat the right way to manage IBS

Food and diet play a significant role for IBS patients. Choosing the right diet can be one of the most effective and natural ways to deal with IBS. IBS symptoms often occur right after the ingestion of certain foods or food components. Since every IBS patient reacts differently to the ingestion of certain foods and food components it is vital to listen to your body and to find a diet pattern that works best for you.
 
 

What can I eat?

When dealing with IBS it can be extremely helpful to keep an IBS diary where you jolt down all your meals and foods you have eaten throughout the day as well as all the symptoms that come with it.
Here you can download our IBS diary template that will help you to keep track of your meals and symptoms. If you do this consistently every day for at least 2 weeks, you will most likely notice a pattern within your eating habits. Afterward you can discuss your findings with your doctor or dietician to figure out dietary measures, tailored to your needs.
 
 
Also, you can download our entire "IBS-Diary" for further information about IBS including the IBS diary pages. Eucarbon IBS-Diary

Dietary recommendations
for IBS

While an IBS diet plan should always consider individual food triggers, there are some dietary guidelines and tips that have shown to widely improve IBS symptoms. Gradually increase your daily fiber intake. Good sources of fiber include:
 

Fruits

Nuts

Whole-grain products

 

Seeds

Vegetables

Although an adequate fiber intake is beneficial for maintaining a healthy digestive system, it may also generate gas and bloating, especially if your body isn’t used to the high amount of intake. A dose of 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day is commonly recommended. However, it is always advised to find the amount that works best for you and your digestive system.

Legumes

Peas or beans are a great source of fiber and nutrients but some IBS patients find them hard to tolerate since they contain a lot of insoluble fiber. Experiment to see if your gut can handle them or not.
 
 

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. If certain fruits or vegetables are hard for you to digest, try eating them without the skin and stick to those containing dominantly soluble fiber such as oranges, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, and carrots.
 
 

Raw Foods

Raw foods might upset your gut so try eating foods that are cooked. Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are an exception as they might still cause heavy bloating even after being cooked.
 
 

Food choice and preparation

Try not going for the saucy chili infused dishes but opt for the mild alternatives. Avoid heavily processed, greasy and sugar rich foods as well as refined carbohydrates. Exclude Fast Food, junk food, deep fried foods, white flour products, sweets, cakes, etc. from your diet. Not only is it better for your overall health but these foods tend to upset your digestion. Try more gentle preparation methods while cooking, like grilling, boiling or steaming. There are tons of good recipes found in books and online, showing you how to prepare wholesome meals that you can try out.
 
 

Water

Drink lots of water. At least 6 to 8 glasses per day.
This will not only prevent you from getting dehydrated caused by episodes of diarrhea but also prevent constipation and bloating.

 

Dairy

Many IBS patients feel better after cutting out dairy products from their diet. Try it out to see if it also works for you. 
 
 

Beverages

Stay away from alcoholic, carbonated and caffeinated drinks.

 

Sweets and Artificial sweeteners

For all chocolate lovers out there- moderate your chocolate intake since it might irritate your bowl. It might be hard to do at the beginning but for your digestive tract it is definitely worth a try. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have shown to promote bloating and diarrhea. Be conscious about what foods you buy and make sure to read the labels of the packaging before putting any of them into your shopping card the next time you go grocery shopping. Artificial sweeteners are most often found in soft drinks, low- fat products, jams, chewing gums, diabetic food products etc.

The low-FODMAP diet

The low-FODMAP diet is a dietary concept published by the Monash University in Australia. It follows the strategy of restricting foods that contain certain carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs, which have shown to be capable of triggering digestive (IBS-related) symptoms.

 

What does FODMAP stand for?
 

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are a group of simple and complex carbohydrates:

There are several reasons why FODMAPs are said to induce intestinal complaints:

  • They are poorly digested and absorbed during digestive processes
  • They are rapidly fermented during bacterial fermentation processes 
  • They perform osmotic effects in the digestive tract, causing intestinal water retention

All these effects can lead to impaired gas production, abdominal distention, and disrupted gut motility, which result in abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation

Common FODMAP examples include:

1

Oligosaccharides

  • Fructans found in wheat, onions, garlic and chicory
     
  • Galaktooligosaccharide (GOS) found in beans, lentils, chickpeas
2

Disaccharides

  • Lactose found in milk and dairy product
     
  • Fructose found in fruits, honey, agave syrup, high-fructose corn syrup
3

Sugar alcohols

  • Sorbitol and Mannitol which are naturally found in some fruits and vegetables

  • Xylitol which is used as a sweetener in candy and chewing gum

Side note: It is strongly advised to see a doctor before starting any kind of therapy approach.