Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) refers to a functional gastrointestinal disorder that has chronic effects, including an impact on quality of life. A study published in 2021 revealed that IBS is prevalent in Pakistan, though there’s very little data and awareness about it.
The study states that ‘the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the general population was 33.2% with IBS was more common in females compared to males (57.7% vs. 42.2%). IBS was also found to be more common in the age group between 20 and 29 years (45.5%). Among patients diagnosed with IBS in this study, the most common was bloating (74.7%) followed by increased stool frequency (54.4%)’. It is crucial to note that IBS causes a variety of different symptoms in different patients, but the most common gastrointestinal symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Today, FUCHSIA’s onboard dietitian Fareeha Jay is here to tell you about foods you should eat, avoid or limit if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, please do not self-diagnose the condition and if you feel you have IBS please discuss it with a doctor.
General Tips If You Suffer From IBS
• Stress can worsen the symptoms of IBS. Think of ways to reduce your stress levels. This can be achieved through mindfulness, meditation, yoga, “me time” and being positive.
• Include any type of exercise. Something that you enjoy such as walking, running, dancing, swimming etc.
• Practice mindful eating. Relaxed meals with no screens and chew well.
• Make sure to keep a food and symptom diary to see what foods help and may worsen your symptoms.
• To assess whether your changes are working or not, try making these changes one at a time.
However, with that said, people with IBS who suffer from bloating & wind, diarrhoea and constipation can alter some parts of their diet to alleviate their symptoms.
1) Bloating & Wind
If you have bloating and wind you should avoid or limit the intake of foods that are more gas-producing – such as beans, daal, cauliflower etc. It isn’t common knowledge but sugar-free chewing gum can also cause bloating for some! To combat bloating you can include oats in your diet and the best part is that they can be prepared in a plethora of ways – masala oats, overnight oats, porridge, oat crackers or oat biscuits! If you want to go a step further, you can also include one tablespoon of flax seeds by sprinkling them on your salad, raita, soup, or curry but make sure to have plenty of water with it.
If you suffer from diarrhoea you can begin by limiting your caffeine intake (tea/coffee) to no more than 3 drinks a day. Avoiding foods with sweeteners, such as sugar-free gum and drinks and decreasing the consumption of high-fibre food such as whole meal bread and cereals will also help! Lastly, make sure you have plenty of water to replace the loss of fluids from diarrhoea.
It is crucial to increase water intake and fibre intake if you’re constipated. Include lentils, pulses, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables in your diet and make a gradual increase. As you increase your fibre make sure you are having lots of fluid alongside it. 1 tablespoon of flax seeds with around 150-200 ml of water may also help.
Disclaimer: This is general public information. Does not substitute any medical or dietary advice from your health care professionals.
The information in this article was provided by Fareeha Jay. She is a Registered Dietician based in Plymouth. She is working as a Diabetes specialist, delivering educational sessions to people newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. She also runs her private practice. Her work entails online consultations with South Asians all over the world. If you wish to view her work, below are the links to her social media handles;