Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a medical term used to describe a collection of gut symptoms not explained by any other disease. A lot of women with IBS struggle with how unpredictable their symptoms can be. IBS symptoms can vary from person to person and also in the same person at different times, especially in relation to stress, travel and menstrual cycle. People usually suffer with diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, cramping and wind.
There are different types of IBS which are classified according to the main symptom. These include:
- IBS-D (where diarrhoea is the main symptom)
- IBS-C (where constipation is the main symptom)
- IBS-M (where symptoms are mixed) and
- IBS-U (unspecified)
There is no test to diagnose IBS and it is diagnosed when other conditions are ruled out. Symptoms can be very similar to other gastrointestinal (gut) conditions and so before a diagnosis of IBS is confirmed, it is important that other gastrointestinal conditions such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as other bowel and gynaecological conditions, are first ruled out. This is because if you have one of these conditions, you will need treatment for them to prevent your health deteriorating. Mistakenly thinking that it is IBS can lead to such conditions progressing.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of factors, including trauma in childhood, stress, diet, and imbalance in gut microbiota. While there is no cure for IBS, there are several dietary and lifestyle strategies that can help to manage the symptoms. Research shows that certain dietary strategies can help up to 70% of people with IBS, and many people find that a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes is the most effective approach. Some helpful dietary strategies for managing IBS include avoiding trigger foods, eating regular meals, and manipulating fibre intake. In addition, stress management techniques such as relaxation therapy can also be beneficial.
What we can achieve working together:
- Achieve relief from your digestive symptoms
- Understand how to help your IBS by addressing the root cause
- Increase the variety of food you tolerate
- Have more confidence in understanding your body and trusting it
IBS doesn't have a single cause, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution for managing it. Our current understanding suggests it's a disorder rooted in gut-brain communication. Therefore, effective management involves addressing both nervous system regulation and dietary factors. Initially, our focus will be on identifying and eliminating triggers to provide relief from symptoms while you work on practices to regulate your nervous system and enhance gut health, making it more resilient and less reactive to certain foods. Once you've established strong nervous system regulation and improved gut health, we can gradually reintroduce foods you may have previously found intolerable. Here’s a glimpse into some of the common themes we often explore:
- An assessment of your symptom profile and the likely triggers
- The role of your menstrual cycle in your symptoms
- Recommendation of a dietary management plan to control your symptoms
- Strategies and goal setting for nervous system regulation
- Prevention of nutritional deficiencies
- Supplement recommendations
- Recommendations for optimising your gut health long-term
- Recommendations for reintroducing previous trigger foods that are generally beneficial for overall health