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Living with IBS, how to best control it and live your best life

By Linn Ansnes-Bruiners | October 27th, 2020 | Digestive Disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is IBS?

IBS is a disorder of the gut function (functional bowel disorder). It is a diagnose by exclusion using symptom criteria and the exclusion of other gastrointestinal diseases. Functional means where the structure of the gut is normal but the function isn’t.

Cause of IBS

The cause of IBS is unknown, but likely to be multifactorial. Factors that may cause IBS include: altered gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, impaired perception and processing of information by the brain, low grade inflammation, immune system activation, intestinal permeability, and alterations in the gut microbiota.

Lifestyle factors like stress may cause onset of symptoms due to enhanced communication between the brain and gut via the gut-brain axis.

Certain foods are often seen as symptom triggers often causing bloating, pain, excessive gas, diarrhoea, constipation and distention.

Living with IBS

Learning about your own IBS and body is important as it is different in everyone (our genetic makeup is biochemically unique).

It is thought to affect between 7 and 15% of the population worldwide. It is more common in women than men and most often diagnosed before the age of 50 years. It is unknown whether this could be down to that women are more likely to visit their GP and get a diagnosis than their counterparts, or down to the physiology of the female.

IBS sufferers seems to feel like they do not get taken seriously by their GP, also many avoid seeking their GP due to embarrassing symptoms and thus it often goes undiagnosed. This can have a major negative effect on the quality of life of those suffering.

After a diagnosis of IBS many feel like they are left to themselves with little support and follow up. Being given a list of the FODMAP diet to figure out for themselves can be very daunting and cause confusion. Hence it can be an uncertain and lonely disorder to live with without the right support.

How can I best control my IBS?

There is no such thing as a cure for IBS, however there is a range of therapeutic strategies available to manage the condition like lifestyle and diet intervention.

  • Lifestyle changes like exercise (find something that you enjoy) is a great way to manage constipation, anxiety and stress. Spending time in nature seems to lower heart rate, blood pressure and increased diversity of microbes in your gut. The same goes for low intensity exercises that focus on strength, mobility, stretching and breathing techniques like Yoga and Pilates.

Sometimes the triggers are more hidden; as you don’t feel stressed but have a busy schedule (modern day living) and often forget to breathe properly (shallow breathing), eat on the go / no meal pattern / not chewing food properly.

  • Diet therapy like the FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods including fruit, vegetables, breads, cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, processed food and beverages. Numerous studies have shown that a low FODMAP diet improves overall functional symptoms, symptom severity and quality of life in people with IBS, when compared to a normal Western diet. It is a 3 phased diet: elimination, reintroduction and personalisation, and the major goal of which is to find a balance between good symptom control and expansion of the diet.

Although there are common food and lifestyle triggers, the reintroduction phase of the diet is unique to you. This also means that in order to be successful with the FODMAP diet you’ll need compliance to the dietary restrictions, in addition to support and guidance from a qualified health professional.

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About Linn Ansnes-Bruiners

Living with IBS, how to best control it and live your best life
Linn is a Nutritionist with a degree in Nutritional Sciences and trained by the Monash University on the FODMAP diet. She works on helping IBS sufferers finding clarity and freedom by focusing on two main therapies, lifestyle factors and food triggers. This include stress management, symptom management, the FODMAP diet, diversifying the diet to provide the body with vital nutrients for optimum health, and improving quality of life. Instagram: @the.ibs.nutritionist Contact via e-mail: linn@ibsclarity.com

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