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Living with IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is it?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, known more commonly as IBS, is a medical diagnosis offered to someone experiencing pain and discomfort in their abdomen as a result of irritation to the large intestine. IBS is a chronic condition often requiring bespoke management.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of IBS include:
  • Abdominal bloating, cramping or pain associated with opening the bowels / passing stools
  • Altered frequency of bowel movements
  • Changes to the appearance of bowel movements including diarrhoea and constipation
  • Presence of mucus in the stool
  • Increased gas / flatulence

What causes IBS?

Whilst research continues into the specific causes of IBS, to date, several biological and lifestyle factors have been associated with the development of IBS.

These include:

  • Severe Infection - IBS can develop following an abdominal / large intestine infection that has caused gastroenteritis. Often the result of a virus or bacterial strain, gastroenteritis creates inflammation within the gut leading to vomit and / or diarrhoea and an increase in the population of harmful bacteria.
  • Gut microbe imbalance - Research has identified that IBS sufferers often have an imbalance in their good and bad gut bacterial count, whereby the bad bacteria prevails and fuels frequent bouts of intestinal inflammation.
  • Digestive nerve disruption - Abnormalities in the nerves that stimulate your digestive system function can lead to weak, variable intestinal wall muscle contractions. Abdominal bloating and / or cramping, loose stools or constipation result. 
New research has identified the importance of the ‘Gut-Brain’ relationship and specifically how the nerve conduction from brain to gut can be affected by the gut bacteria (1).
  • Childhood stress- experience of stressful events in our childhood has been associated with a higher probability of developing IBS.

What can trigger IBS?

Several intrinsic and extrinsic factors can trigger a ‘flare-up’ of IBS.
  • Stress - the most common trigger to IBS is stress. When you consider the age-old sayings of ‘feeling wound up’ or ‘butterflies in the stomach’, the relationship between emotional stress and abdominal discomfort has been acknowledged for centuries. When life feels tough, IBS often kicks-in. 
  • Food - the very thing that fuels our body by passing through the digestive tract is inevitably going to contribute to the occurrence of IBS. Unfortunately, there is no specific list of ‘trigger’ foods that all IBS sufferers could benefit from. Trigger foods tend to be unique to each individual and often it’s a case of trial and error to decipher your personal triggers. A fantastic scientifically proven method of identifying your triggers is to try an elimination diet. Our favourite is the  FODMAP diet.

Living with IBS

Research continues to explore the best ways of reducing IBS but so far we know that the following lifestyle hacks can help the majority of sufferers:
  • Identify your trigger foods - knowing the ingredients that place greater demand on your digestive system, leading to excessive inflammation, is a great starting point to reducing the likelihood of a flare-up. Once you establish your trigger foods, it’s at your discretion as to whether you include or exclude them from your diet.
  • Stress management - take time to understand more about your emotional stress triggers. If you discover the very things that ‘wind you up’, you can prepare for them and reduce their impact by frequently de-stressing or down regulating. The importance of taking time out, having ‘me time’ and improving your sleep have all been strongly linked to reducing stress hormone levels. Experiment with meditation, mindfulness, exercise and even socialising with friends as ways of de-stressing.
  • Support the GUT- more and more fantastic research continues to be published (2) exploring the benefits of respecting and supporting your gut environment (the Gut Biome). By cultivating a gutabundant with diverse, strong, good bacteria, the following improvements have been reported:
    • digestive function
    • nutrient extraction
    • mental clarity
    • physical fitness
    • sleep quality
    • immune system strength
    • and improved overall wellbeing

One way of supporting your gut and helping to cultivate good bacteria is by supplementing a healthy diet with gut specific ingredients. Our  Gut Repair Kit  has been specifically formulated to reduce inflammation, feed friendly bacteria and aid digestion. Check out our  Reviews  to see how others have felt the benefits of the  Gut Repair Kit.