Around 1 in 4 UK adults are thought to have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

There is no single cause or trigger, which can leave millions of us suffering without ever really finding long-term relief.

What Are The Common Symptoms of IBS?
IBS is a collection of symptoms that can vary between different people.

More common in women, it tends to begin in your 20s or 30s.

Typically, IBS is diagnosed when you have had regular abdominal pain or discomfort for over 3 months.

Usually, diarrhoea or constipation is also present, with most IBS cases being either ‘diarrhoea dominant’ or ‘constipation dominant’.

Other common symptoms might include:

bloating belching depression / low mood
muscle pains joint pains incomplete bowel movements
fatigue allergies mucus

 

If you experience any of the following, you should arrange to see a medical professional, as further tests may be required to rule out more serious issues:

  • New onset after age 50
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding / blood in stools
  • Night pains / regular sweating during the night
  • Fever
  • Recurring nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain that isn’t totally relieved by a bowel movement
  • Persistent diarrhoea or diarrhoea that wakes you up from sleeping
  • Anaemia related to low iron
IBS Triggers
Potential IBS triggers are numerous.

In relation to diet, some common triggers are lack of fibre and dehydration (constipation dominant). Diarrhoea dominant IBS triggers include alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, artificial sweeteners and lactose.

Other triggers can be related to infections, malabsorption of nutrients, drugs, lifestyle factors and existing diseases.

The Naturopathic Approach to Relieving IBS
It’s very important to realise that every IBS case is different, and I take into account a complete history of an individual’s diet, lifestyle factors (including stress) and medical history when devising a plan to help. 

My naturopathic approach to IBS focuses on the 5 R's - Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, Repair and Rebalance
1. Remove

Address food and health issues that may be causing IBS or making it worse. For example, gluten, dairy, refined sugar and certain other foods known to be potential triggers. Other health issues can include yeasts, bacteria and various digestion issues.

2. Replace

Regardless of what me or may not have been removed from step 1, we now look at beneficial nutrients and supporting digestive complaints.

Beneficial foods can include fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut, oily fish, juices and smoothies (that can include green vegetables or alkalising greens powders). These are just examples and there are other options in terms of food.

Digestion can be supported in various ways, including the use of appropriate supplements to help support levels of enzymes, stomach acid and general gut support.

3. Reinoculate

The use of a high quality, high strength multi-strain probiotics supplement can help greatly in beginning the process of reinoculating beneficial bacteria into the gut.

4. Repair

The repair stage is aimed at healing the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) which covers the entire process of digestion from beginning to end. For this to happen, we need to look at repairing gut mucosa, which is the innermost layer of the GI tract.

To do this, any sensitivities (gluten, dairy, etc) are addressed and supplements are recommended, if required.

5. Rebalance

In this stage, all lifestyle factors are considered and holistic recommendations given to support the individual.

Stress often plays a very big part in IBS and can trigger other issues such as emotional over-eating and excess alcohol consumption.

Recommend Web Sites
I’d recommend visiting IBS Jennifer and doing the test to see if you likely have IBS. Another very comprehensive source is the Rome III criteria for IBS documentation.

www.ibsjennifer.com
www.romecriteria.org

If you would like my help with IBS symptoms please see my Nutrition Services page, email me on tony@harrisonnutrition.com or call 01572 759589 for an informal discussion.