Stay in control of your IBS

Digestive health expert Linda Booth offers her tips for managing IBS and explains some of the most common triggers.

Women with IBS

Millions of people suffer from the symptoms of IBS; statistics show that IBS affects 10-20% of the UK population with 6 million GP appointments made every year by people seeking help with IBS symptoms. However, this statistic does not include the many millions more that suffer in silence, embarrassed and living in fear of their symptoms, causing social isolation and depression. The cost to the NHS is estimated at over £600m a year, but in my experience around 80% of symptoms can be controlled with the right treatment.

Unfortunately, IBS is very poorly understood and managed by orthodox medicine. That’s because of a misunderstanding of the mechanisms by which it manifests, one of the number 1 causes of IBS is a gut infection, like food poisoning, that can cause diarrhoea, ‘washing’ out much of the ‘friendly’ gut bacteria, causing gut inflammation and predisposing towards IBS symptoms. Because of this IBS can respond well with a course of multi-strain probiotics.

I can’t stress enough the importance of good digestive and gut health for a strong immune system and overall health and wellbeing – did you know that 70-80% of your immune system tissue is located in your digestive system, that's why ensuring that you are supporting your gut is so important for increased energy, the ability to fight colds and infections, and to slow down the ageing process. This is particularly important for the over 50’s. As we age, our gut bacteria ages with us. It becomes more pathogenic, more disease-causing, hence why we are more at risk of developing nasty gut infections like clostridium difficile and our risk of developing bowel cancer increases. Taking a daily Live Bacteria probiotic is one of the best things you can do to help protect your bowel. There’s a huge body of emerging research indicating that probiotics can also reduce our risk of developing dementia type diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Tips for managing IBS

IBS should be diagnosed by your GP – so once you have a diagnosis, it is perfectly possible to manage, and greatly improve, your symptoms with probiotics and IBS diet plan.

Common IBS triggers

A bout of IBS can be triggered by one of these foods, so it is worth experimenting with decreasing or eliminating them completely from your diet:

Gluten, Cow’s milk, Corn; Yeast, Caffeine, Citrus fruit and Fizzy drinks including carbonated water

In addition, I advise my patients to avoid the following foods, which can irritate the digestive tract:

  • Pork, beef, veal, sausages and processed meats
  • Shellfish
  • Gluten grains: in addition to wheat – barley, spelt, kamut, rye
  • Soybean products
  • Sugar and sweeteners such as Sorbitol
  • Fructose syrups, maple syrup and sugar
  • Dried fruit, packaged fruit juices
  • Alcoholic drinks

Look carefully at labels for ‘hidden’ ingredients – avoid MSG, rusk, wheat starch, bran, farina and malt.

Visit Linda’s site Just For Tummies for further advice on your digestive health

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 11:26 am Health

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