Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS), Diet & Fiber

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common but poorly understood disorder in which there are often extreme responses to stimuli such as specific foods, stress and distension. It has been suggested that about half of the people attending gastroenterology clinics have IBS. The symptoms are abdominal pain and discomfort, and an alteration in bowel habit, which may be either constipation or diarrhoea. The pain is usually related either to meals or defecation. These symptoms can also be features of other bowel disorders and so IBS is often diagnosed by a process of elimination. Other symptoms, not involving the large bowel, can also be present.

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A high fibre diet, with or without bran supplements, is commonly prescribed to treat IBS, despite the lack of agreement on the benefits of this form of treatment. A recent review of studies focussing on high fibre or bran-supplemented diets showed a significant improvement in symptoms in only two of the eight diet studies. IBS patients who suffer with constipation are highly likely to experience relief of symptoms if they increase their intake of dietary fibre. However, such a diet may exacerbate symptoms such as distension, flatulence, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Some sufferers associate their symptoms with eating particular types of food. But there is no real evidence to suggest that specific exclusion diets are routinely beneficial. Indeed, eliminating key foods, and consequently unbalancing the diet, can sometimes do more harm than good. If such diets are to be tried, they should be under medical supervision and involve qualified nutrition experts (e.g. dietitians) who can advice on suitable alternative foods to prevent depletion of essential nutrients.

Guide to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Diet Treatment For Irritable Bowel
Reduce Insoluble Fiber Intake
Soluble Fiber Supplements for IBS
Diet Modification for IBS
More Diet Advice For IBS Patients
Exercise is Important in IBS Diet Management
IBS Diet Menu

SOURCE: British Nutrition Foundation

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