Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS

Information and treatment for IBS

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IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a group of symptoms that typically occur together such as:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Gas /Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating


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The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors, including abnormal gastrointestinal motility, heightened sensitivity of the organs in the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT), alterations in the gut microbiota Antibiotic related diarrhoea and psychological factors such as stress or anxiety. IBS can vary in severity and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.


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Health complications arising from IBS include:

  • haemorrhoids (aggravated by diarrhoea and/or constipation)
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • psychosocial problems such as interference with work, relationships, friends and family.


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  • Get tested for IBS (food allergy test) and eliminate these foods.
  • Use medication as prescribed by HCP
  • Add fibre to diet
  • Limit foods that make diarrhoea/constipation worse
  • Meditation/Exercise to relief stress
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, milk products, foods high in sugar, fatty foods, gas producing foods, artificial sweeteners (sorbitol & zylitol)
  • Probiotics may help


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  • Having a healthy diet is important in managing your IBS. This can reduce the discomfort and pain you are experiencing.1
  • Regular exercise may help your digestive system, ease IBS symptoms and improve overall mood.2
  • Avoid stress as it may make your symptoms worse. Find ways to reduce stress such as relaxation techniques, deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditations, etc. 2
  • Having support groups can help you gain different methods on how to manage your symptoms as it would include sharing concerns, management and experiences1
  • Avoid common offenders such as coffee and chocolate.
  • Avoid foods which are high in fat such as fried foods and animal fats. Focus more on lean meats, fish and chicken. Prepare foods by grilling, broiling or steaming with little to no oil. Cooking spray can be substituted in the place of cooking oil.
  • Avoid carbohydrates which are difficult for the intestines to digest such as lactose (found in milk products), high fructose products (peaches, watermelon, pears, mangoes, plums, nectarines), legumes, wheat, rye, gaseous or cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushroom, artichoke, etc).
  • Ask your doctor about the FODMAPs diet.
  • When you eat out, try to choose foods which are close to what you eat at home.
  • Try to include a gluten free diet to see if your symptoms improve. This will include rye and any type of wheat.


  • Therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy can help you develop coping skills and improve the overall quality of life. 2
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking as it will aggravate your symptoms.2
  • Ask your doctor about Probiotic supplements.1
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable disorder characterized by dramatic changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation. Everyday activities may become intolerable due to cramps and abdominal pain. Dietary tips can help improve your symptoms, but medical intervention is important for treatment. 3



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  • Having a high fibre diet helps build the bulk of your stools which shall assist in bowel movement. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Gradually add fibre to your diet. Start low, increase slowly until you reach a point of intolerance. If you experience bloating and diarrhoea due to the high fiber, instead of cutting fiber completely from your diet, focus on soluble fibre. These include apples, berries, carrots, oatmeal, beans, etc.
  • Avoid insoluble fibre found in nuts, tomatoes, raisins, broccoli, cabbage, etc.

  1. Health Library [Internet]. Lifestyle changes to manage irritable bowel syndrome. Winchester: Winchester Hospital; [updated 2019 Jun 07; cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from: article?id=19649.
  2. Renlund L [Internet]. 10 Simple dietary & lifestyle changes to Help IBS management. Canada: Dieticians of Canada; [updated 2017 Oct; cited 2019 Aug 12]. Available from: /simple-changes-help-ibs-management/.
  3. Moore K, Higuera V [Internet]. IBS diet guide. America: Healthline; [updated 2018 Nov 07; cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from:
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease [Internet]. Eating, diet & nutrition for irritable bowel syndrome. America: National institute of Health; [updated 2017 Nov, cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from: digestive-diseases/irritable-bowelsyndrome/ eating-diet-nutrition.
  5. GI Society [Internet]. IBS diet: the foods you can eat. Canada: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research; [update 2019; cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from: health-nutrition/ibs-the-foods-you-caneat/.
  6. Health Matters [Internet]. Everything you need to know about IBS. New York: NewYork-Presbyterian; [updated 2019; cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from: uploads/2019/04/ibs-at-a-glance-8.jpg.
  7. Gowan M [Internet]. Causes of IBS- What factors contribute to IBS?. Canada: ND Assist; [updated 2017 Jul 19; cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from: uploads/2017/07/blog-causes4- smaller.jpg.
  8. Bolen B [Internet]. Understanding IBS pain. New York: Verywell health; [updated 2019 Jul 04, cited 2019 Aug 13]. Available from: 71XReMRvcVQEY5O9cPbbLW8A=/1500×1000/filte rs:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/ibspain- locations-1945305- 5c04ab7ec9e77c0001dbe853.png.

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