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What is IBS And How Can We Manage Symptoms

What is IBS And How Can We Manage Symptoms

IBS is a common disorder that affects digestion and causes unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms - but what are the characteristics of IBS, and what causes it? Continue reading to learn more!

What Is IBS? 

IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome, and is a term used to describe irregular bowel habits such as diarrhoea and/or constipation, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas. Women are more likely to suffer from IBS than men, and there is a strong correlation between IBS and stress disorders such as depression and anxiety. IBS can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of life such as social life and self confidence, and it can also lead to malnutrition due to impaired digestion.  

What Causes IBS?

The causes of IBS are poorly understood, but symptoms can be triggered by a range of factors such as the foods we eat, or even by lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and nutrient deficiencies. A lack of fibre in the diet can lead to constipation and gas, and caffeine, alcohol and high carbohydrate or lactose consumption can contribute to diarrhoea.

Although IBS isn’t necessarily caused by the same foods in different people, there are some foods that are generally associated with IBS - these include milk and dairy products, wheat, and some fruits and vegetables. Certain foods contain FODMAPs, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (these are short- chain carbohydrates!) They are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, and can contribute to gas and bloating as these components start to ferment in the bowel. Despite this, IBS is not caused by a food allergy, but is considered more like a food hypersensitivity.

How To Relieve Symptoms of IBS

Although the causes of IBS can be vast and there isn’t necessarily a single cure, there are a few supplements that may help relieve symptoms often associated with IBS, and appropriate lifestyle changes are important in managing the symptoms! 

Peppermint oil is an effective supplement to improve quality of life in individuals with IBS, as it can help relieve certain symptoms such as abdominal cramping and discomfort. Aloe Vera has also been found effective in short term treatment of IBS, by reducing the intensity of IBS symptoms. Aloe Vera can help soothe the digestive system, and also contains compounds that can help increase the number of healthy gut bacteria. A probiotic supplement can help increase the number of healthy gut bacteria, which can aid digestion and improve the persistence of IBS symptoms. Lastly, fibre supplements can help improve IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, and promote regularity.

Unfortunately, healthy eating on its own has not been found effective in IBS management, but where IBS is caused by FODMAPs, a diet which involves reducing or excluding intake of certain foods can be helpful in relieving IBS symptoms. 

Where IBS is caused by psychological factors such as stress and anxiety, dietary interventions may not make a difference, and the patient may be in need of a psychological treatment to help relieve their symptoms.

The Bottom Line

IBS is a complex condition, and both causes and treatment will differ from person to person. If you are experiencing IBS symptoms, it is important to undergo testing to rule out any allergies, intolerances or other causes, and receive appropriate treatment from a healthcare professional. Elimination diets can be helpful, but they need to be followed with the guidance of a trained professional to make sure you are still getting adequate nutrition. Supplements can also be a great tool to help manage symptoms - check out the MOBU range for your digestive supplement needs!

What’s your best remedy to help relieve IBS symptoms? Let us know in the comments below!
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