1 in 5 Australians experience some kind of IBS symptoms at one point in their lifetime. IBS symptoms are individualised from person to person, and different things can cause a flare up in different individuals. Above are some common triggers across the board.
In recent years, dietary management has been demonstrated as a key tool in the treatment and management of IBS. A lot of patients with IBS relate their GI symptoms to specific foods. In some instances, this can lead to food avoidance and restrictive diets. Restricting certain food groups is not recommended without health professional support. For example there is no quality evidence to support the elimination of dairy to improve IBS symptoms. Cutting out dairy without relating it specifically to your symptoms can lead to avoidable nutrient deficiencies like low calcium levels.
A good way to identify trigger foods is to fill out a food and symptom diary. This should be done over the course of at least a week, noting quantity of food, time of the day and severity of symptoms. This should provide you with a good indication of what foods set you off in what amount.
If IBS symptoms persist, consult with your local dietitian. A low FODMAP diet is another option for IBS treatment and management. The low FODMAP diet restricts intake of short chain fermentable carbohydrates and works to slowly reintroduce them, with the overall aim to improve dietary intake.
Adequate fluid intake, exercise and healthy eating habits are also a good defence against IBS.
Stephanie Blackwell APD
Gold Coast Dietitian