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 Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Experiencing 3 days or more of abdominal discomfort per month can be a symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder most often associated with changes in bowel habits and abdominal pain. It can be a difficult syndrome to diagnose because it is often accompanied by other symptoms (heartburn, headache, backache etc.) or functional disorders such as fibromyalgia.

IBS affects the consistency, colour and frequency of bowel movements. Both constipation and diarrhoea are symptoms of IBS, but it is also just as likely for your bowel movements to fluctuate between hard and watery stools (known as IBS-mixed). For this reason, identifying your symptoms and getting the right course of action is essential.

A wrong correlation may introduce the wrong bacteria into our system, further influencing the absorption and availability of nutrients. The gut, considered our second brain, interacts with several hormones as well as the brain itself. An upset in the gut can easily create changes in mood, anxiety, and sleep. Furthermore, becoming dependent on a short-term solution like taking a daily fibre supplement may solve your constipation problems but also affect your bowel’s ability to function long term.

Where to start

Evaluate your current diet. Are certain nutrients missing from your daily intake? Are you stressed or hurried when you eat your food? Are you aware of any foods or times of day that upset your stomach and bowel? Surprisingly, removing lactose from one’s diet tends to fail at improving symptoms.

Educate yourself about the symptoms. Bloating is experienced by 96% of IBS patients and often overlaps with other symptoms. There may be a feeling of fullness throughout the day, even hours after digesting one’s food. Constipation is a persistent inability or infrequency to completely defecate. With constipation, there is hardness to the stool, creating strain. Diarrhoea, a third symptom, is the passage of loose or watery stools. Retaining watery stools is difficult and often creates urgency for the bathroom.

 In order to evaluate consistency, colour and frequency we suggest tracking your stools for two weeks without any changes to your diet to establish a baseline of your experiences with abdominal discomfort. Having a visual representation of your daily bowel movements provides an empowering step to regaining control over your ability to absorb important nutrients and move freely.


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