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Tags: diet

I am currently being seen by my GP who feels that I possibly have irritable bowel syndrome. She has suggested looking at information on Fodmap diets. Do you have any information on this diet and is this something I can speak to one of your dietitians about?

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The Answer

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system which has symptoms including flatus, bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea or constipation.

IBS is thought to be triggered by stress, anxiety, infection and through difficulties digesting foods particularly those high in sugars and starch.

It is thought that up to 20 percent of the population will suffer from IBS at some point of their lifetime. IBS can be diagnosed by means of tests for food intolerances and through investigations such as endoscopy and gastroscopy.

Treatment can be through medication to ease abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea/constipation as well as through making changes to lifestyle and diet. It is noted that exercise, reduction of alcohol, caffeine and smoking can all help with easing IBS symptoms.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. Basically these are all short chained carbohydrates which the gut is unable to easily absorb (in the intestine and then the sugars start fermenting because of the bacteria in the gut reacting to sugar).

Foods which are particularly high in these types of carbohydrates include:

  • Fruit -Dried fruit, apples, pears, cherries, mango and watermelon.
  • Vegetables- asparagus, onions, garlic, cabbage, leeks, mushrooms and cabbage
  • Wheat and Rye based foods
  • Dairy food such as milk, yoghurt and soft cheese
  • Beans, Pulses and Rice
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol

It is recommended that for a period of 6-8 weeks you try to cut out these elements from your diet and then review to see if symptoms have eased. Gradually items can be re introduced but if symptoms worsen then you leave these out of your diet again. It is thought that sticking to this low FODMAP diet that the effect of IBS is dramatically reduced.

We would recommend that you seek further information from your GP, IBS organisation and maybe see a dietician to help you further. Further investigations such as tests for intolerances may be advisable too. If in your case you are requiring medication to help ease pain and bowel symptoms we would suggest speaking to your GP and Pharmacist as to which medications may also help you such as antispasmodics for cramping and aperients for constipation.

Some other useful information sites which may be of assistance are: 

As previously mentioned we would liaise with your GP as to the best way to manage your condition and to discuss tests and treatments available to you.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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