Maggie (February 2014) “Many thanks for all your advice and support. I can’t put into words how much improved my life is now.”
What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder where the bowel looks normal, but it doesn’t function properly. It is incredibly common, affecting about 1 in 5 people in the UK. The diagnosis of IBS is usually made when other conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, have been ruled out. Symptoms include bloating, wind, diarrhoea, constipation, acid reflux, nausea and abdominal pain.
Causes of IBS:
The causes of IBS are not fully understood, however, it is believed to be due to a number of complex factors:
- genetic – tummy problems run in the family
- gastroenteritis – alters the gut bacteria
- antibiotics – alter the gut bacteria
- a highly sensitive gut that is more sensitive to gas forming foods
- food intolerances e.g. lactose intolerance
Until recently, dietary advice given by health professionals for IBS has been, at best, vague and unsatisfactory. For many people the NICE guidelines, used in the NHS by GPs for treatment of IBS, aren’t very successful. Current advice from your GP may include: reduce stress, adjust fibre intake, regular meals, restrict caffeine, fruit juice, fruit and sorbitol, exercise and probiotics. Medications such as laxatives, anti-diarrheals, anti-spasmodics and anti-depressants are often prescribed. Unfortunately, IBS patients can be left frustrated because these medications in conjunction with the dietary and lifestyle changes can be unsatisfactory solutions.
New low FODMAP diet: 75% see significant improvement
The low FODMAP diet has been published in international medical journals and is now accepted and recommended as one of the most effective dietary therapies for IBS. The low FODMAP diet significantly reduces symptoms in 75% of people. FODMAPs are indigestible sugars which ferment in the gut causing bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and gut pain. By reducing the amount of FODMAP foods in your diet, IBS symptoms can be dramatically reduced or resolved.
Dr Peter Irving, consultant gastroenterologist at Guys and St Thomas’, says: ‘I can now refer IBS patients for dietetic advice with a greater degree of confidence that their quality of life will improve.’
Some common high FODMAP foods include wheat (so in bread, pasta, biscuits etc), apples, pears, garlic, onions, lentils, beans, some vegetables, milk, and some artificial sweeteners. The low FODMAP diet involves many dietary changes that are best described to you in consultation with a dietitian. Additionally, not everyone reacts to the same FODMAPs, which is why it is important to have the advice of an experienced dietitian to help you negotiate the various phases of the diet.
Where do I start?
The low FODMAP diet is carried out in two stages. The aim is to identify the FODMAP foods causing problems that are specific to YOU. Every person reacts differently to each food category, and can tolerate certain amounts.
I hold weekly clinics at Kingston Health Centre. You do not need a referral from your GP or gastroenterologist, however, it is important that prior to your appointment a diagnosis of IBS has been made.
IBS low FODMAP Programme
- Assessment of pre appointment questionnaire and food diary filled in and emailed to me before appointment
- You can tell me about your IBS, how it affects you, what advice and treatments you have had, your thoughts and opinions on triggers, what helps etc.
- explanation of IBS and the low FODMAP diet
- recommended changes to your diet to eliminate FODMAP foods for approximately 4 weeks
- meal and snack ideas, shopping list, hints and tips, eating out advice
- provision of booklets published by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital
- email contact for queries until session 2
Session 2 (after approximately 4 weeks):
- review of improvements
- explanation of reintroduction of food categories to establish your tolerance level
- written plan provided for reintroduction phase
- email support as required
Support for IBS:
Facebook page – providing support from others with IBS