Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a term that is used to describe a collection of gut symptoms.  These symptoms can vary in severity from person to person.  It affects around 20% of the population however it has been suggested that it has been diagnosed in only 5% to 7% of those who suffer from the condition.  It is more common in women than men.  Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and altered bowel habits causing either constipation or diarrhoea.  These symptoms can Person holding stomachflare and settle at different times.  IBS cannot be cured, it needs to be managed.


Steps to take:

  • eat three regular meals a day, smaller meal sizes may ease symptoms
  • limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 units per day and have at least 2 alcohol free days per week
  • reduce intake of caffeine-containing drinks e.g. no more than two mugs a day
  • reduce intake of fizzy drinks
  • drink at least 8 cups of fluid per day including water and other non-caffeinated drinks
  • cut down on rich or fatty foods including chips, fast foods, pies, cheese, pizza, creamy sauces, snacks, such as crisps, chocolate, cake and biscuits, spreads and cooking oils and fatty meats such as burgers and sausages
  • reduce your intake of processed foods and cook from fresh ingredients where possible
  • limit fresh fruit to three portions per day (one portion being 80g)
  • take time to relax – meditation, relaxation tapes and massage may help
  • undergo regular exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming
  • take your time when eating – chew food thoroughly 
  • keep a food and symptom diary while you are making changes will help identify what has helped your symptoms
  • make changes according you your symptoms and make only one change at a time

If your symptoms include bloating and wind:Bowl of porridge oats

  • limit intake of gas producing foods e.g. beans and pulses, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and sugar free mints/chewing gum
  • you may find eating oats (such as porridge for breakfast) linseeds (up to 1 tablespoon per day)
  • peppermint may help to reduce trapped wind

If your symptoms include constipation:

  • try gradually increasing your fibre intake, be careful as too much too soon may exacerbate your symptoms, good sources include vegetables, oats, wholegrains, fruit, etc.
  • these may help soften stools stools easier to pass
  • try adding one tablespoon per day of brown or golden linseeds (ground or whole) to breakfast cereal, yoghurt, soup or salad. Have a small glass of fluid with each tablespoon of linseeds taken
  • ensure you are hydrated 


If symptoms include diarrhoea :Glass of water

  • replace lost fluid by drinking plenty
  • limit caffeine intake to three drinks per day (coffee, tea, soft drinks etc.)
  • try reducing intake of high-fibre food
  • avoid sugar-free mints, gum and drinks containing sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol




You may want to increase your intake of probiotic foods such as yoghurts or fermented milk drinks.  Try taking these daily for at least 4 weeks.


Remember to give your gut time to adjust to any of these changes.


More Information

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Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.


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