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Bronwyn Frazer - Australian writer, clinical nutritionist, speaker + author / Health  / Do you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Do you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Stomach pain that is persistent, regular and impacts your way of life should always be investigated. I know this firsthand.

My stomach pain, mild gastroenteritis and lurgy type symptoms translated into days of work at least one day a month. Aside from being uncomfortable, having time off work did not make me popular with my managers. So after experiencing and ignoring stomach distress for seven years or more and being told by my doctor that I was ‘just stressed’, I started doing my own investigations.

All of us are so different, so what triggers you may not impact me.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that is associated with pain and discomfort in the stomach. Signs and symptoms usually occur within a short time (30-60 minutes) after eating or drinking. These include stomach cramps, gas, stomach bloating, diarrhea, constipation, alternating constipation, and diarrhea.

The exact causes of IBS are not known. However, muscle contractions in the intestines (either too fast or too slow), nervous system dysregulation, prior severe infections (like travel sickness, Bali Belly), changes in the gut bacteria mix, and/or early life trauma are thought to be potential causes. IBS may be diagnosed by a doctor after all other causes are ruled out.

Triggers

All of us are so different, so what triggers you may not impact me. Diets high in refined sugar (processed, not natural), dairy products, wheat products (gluten), coffee, alcohol, spicey foods, chili, cabbage, peas, curries, citrus fruits, fructose (found in artificial sweeteners, honey, corn syrup) and/or soft drinks may be contributors. Stress and hormonal changes at pre-menstruation may also be linked.

Investigate

Learning to understand your body and its distress signs is important. That’s why I suggest keeping a food and mood diary for 7-14 days. Use it to record what you are eating, any (potential) reactions after eating and how you feel before eating. If at any stage you have intense pain, see your doctor immediately. Symptoms that persist for three months or more should be investigated.

Book a consult

As a degree qualified Clinical Nutritionist, I am trained to take an evidence-based and holistic approach to your health. During a comprehensive nutrition consult, we will investigate your diet, lifestyle, health history, family history, values, and potential causes of your discomfort. Then I will develop a personalised treatment plan for you. This may include food swaps, referrals for testing, recommended supplements, recipes, and lifestyle tips.


References: Mayo Clinic (2024).