Gut Health

What is Gut Health?

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

15-20% of Australians have food intolerance or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is characterised by a combination of chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. Although IBS can be frustrating and disruptive to one’s daily life, understanding the condition and implementing appropriate management strategies can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life. This article provides insights into IBS, its causes, symptoms, and practical tips for managing the condition.

Causes and Symptoms of IBS:

The exact cause of IBS is still unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development. These include abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines, heightened sensitivity to pain, bacterial overgrowth, gut permeability, food sensitivities, and stress. Symptoms of IBS may vary from person to person and can include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort: Typically relieved by a bowel movement.
  • Bloating: A feeling of fullness or distension in the abdomen.
  • Altered bowel habits: This can include diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both.
  • Changes in stool appearance: Such as loose stools, hard stools, or mucus in the stool.
  • Excessive gas: Frequent passage of gas or an urgency to have a bowel movement.

You can improve your IBS:

Dietary Modifications: Identifying trigger foods that worsen symptoms is crucial. Common triggers include fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. Keeping a food diary can help pinpoint specific foods that may be causing discomfort.

Fibre Intake: Modifying fibre intake can help regulate bowel movements and reduce constipation. However, for some individuals, increasing fibre intake may worsen symptoms, so it’s important to personalise dietary adjustments based on individual tolerance.

Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or therapy can help alleviate symptoms. Regular exercise can also be beneficial in reducing stress and promoting overall well-being.

Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of gut microbiota and alleviate symptoms of IBS. Speak with a healthcare professional to determine which strains and formulations may be most suitable.

Small, Frequent Meals: Consuming smaller, more frequent meals rather than large meals can help ease digestion and minimise discomfort.

Living with IBS can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is very much achievable to manage or symptoms and improve your gut health in general. By adopting dietary modifications, managing stress, and exploring appropriate supplements, individuals with IBS can find relief and regain control over their digestive health. It is essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses individual symptoms and needs. 

Download the Elerio app now and using the code BAHG06 when signing up so our dietitian Mike O’Sullivan can help you improve your gut health with his 8-week program.

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