Do you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? You're not alone!
You may feel like you're the only person in the world with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You're not. Living with IBS does not mean suffering in silence or just enduring the misery. This site offers IBS information, support, and immediate tangible help* for all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. We're the largest IBS organization and IBS community on the internet, with over 250,000 subscribers - welcome home!
IBS - What Is It? Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Spastic Colon?
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as spastic colon, and sometimes improperly termed spastic colitis) is a devastating and incurable condition that afflicts up to 20% of the world's population. It is the most common chronic health disorder in America, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, affecting more people than asthma, diabetes, and depression combined.
IBS a functional disorder, which means that the bowel simply does not work as it should. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by its symptoms, and IBS attacks can include:
lower abdominal pain or discomfort
alternating diarrhea and constipation
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms - What Are They? How is IBS Diagnosed?
It's important to verify that your symptoms match those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome before you accept this diagnosis. As noted, IBS is characterized by continuous or recurrent lower abdominal pain or cramping (from mild to excruciating) in association with altered bowel motility (diarrhea, constipation, or both). IBS attacks may strike suddenly at any time of day or night, and may occasionally - though not typically - wake you from a sound sleep. Gas and bloating are common, but vomiting isn't, though it can occur due to nausea from the pain. Upper GI symptoms are not a typical part of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For women, IBS attacks are often associated with menstruation. Passing blood, running a fever, swollen extremities, and joint pain are not symptoms of IBS, and point to other disorders. IBS is diagnosed in part by the use of the official diagnostic criteria known as the Rome Guidelines for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you're confident that you've been properly diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, there are several key strategies to successfully manage the disorder.
Once you have a firm IBS diagnosis:eating for IBS is about knowing what foods not to eat much as what foods to eat. Learning trigger foods, soluble fiber versus insoluble fiber, and how to eat for IBS will help you maintain a healthy diet that also directly manages your IBS symptoms.
IBS Trigger foods
The fundamental idea of eating for IBS is to avoid the IBS trigger foods that trigger or irritate a spastic colon via the gastrocolic reflex that occurs when food enters the gut. Yes, you will probably have to completely eliminate some trigger foods from your diet. But, many triggers have safer substitutes, and there are quite a few tips and tricks to learn for cooking with nutritious trigger foods in an IBS-safe manner.
10 Commandments of Eating for IBS
It's not just WHAT you eat for IBS but HOW you eat as well. As you've probably learned from painful experience, sometimes a food will bother your IBS, and sometimes it won't. This seems crazy but actually, it's not. Foods can soothe or aggravate IBS symptoms, and prevent or trigger IBS attacks, depending on how they physically affect the GI tract and gut motility. This is why HOW you eat really matters. The 10 Commandments of Eating for IBS give the guidelines, tips, tricks, and substitutions you need to know for how to eat for IBS.
Safe Foods for IBS
It's not just about IBS trigger foods to avoid, it's about having IBS safe foods that will actively help prevent symptoms in the first place. This is where a special kind of fiber is key. You've heard of fiber, you're pretty sure you know what it is, and you've probably had it recommended to you as beneficial for IBS. But what kind of fiber is critical. Soluble fiber foods are the IBS safe foods, and you want to make these safe foods the basis of all meals and snacks, day in and day out, to keep your gut motility stable. Focus on your IBS safe foods.
Recipes for IBS
What's the number one thing IBS recipes have in common? They're delicious! Cook according to the IBS diet guidelines and you can enjoy almost any type of food. You'll start with the IBS safe food list of high soluble fiber foods, keep recipes low fat, avoid IBS trigger foods, and carefully add insoluble fiber foods. If you think this diet sounds too scientific and intimidating, relax. It's easier than you think.
Have hope, you can manage IBS symptoms successfully for IBS relief!
In addition to verifying that your symptoms match those of the Rome Guidelines, it's also important that the following diseases are excluded before you accept a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Colon, carcinoid, medullary thyroid cancers
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis)
Diverticulosis / Diverticulitis
Gallstones & Idiopathic Bile Acid Malabsorption
Food allergies & intolerances
Celiac (a genetic, autoimmune disorder resulting in gluten intolerance)
Bacterial infections and SIBO
Carcinoid syndrome / neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)
As a rule, all possible physical, structural, and infectious abnormalities of the GI tract need to be unquestionably eliminated before you agree to an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosis. This requires a physical examination, preferably by a board-certified gastroenterologist. The medical tests needed to rule out disorders other than IBS will depend upon your age, health history, family health background, and specific symptoms.
Once you have a firm IBS diagnosis, take heart. While there is no cure yet, there are many ways to successfully manage - and prevent - all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. You can control your IBS, not vice versa.