Between 25 and 45 million people in the United States experience abdominal pain or discomfort, a disorder commonly known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Common symptoms are altered bowel habits such as recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or both – either mixed or in alteration.
Of the 10-15 percent of the adult population who suffer from IBS symptoms in the United States, only five to seven percent of adults have been diagnosed with the disease. Two in three IBS sufferers in the United States are female. For people with a biological relative with IBS, the risk for developing IBS is twice as high.
The exact cause of IBS is not clear. However, recent medical research has shown that patients experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating and constipation or diarrhea may have a gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is more sensitive and works more slowly or quickly than it should. Infrequent, occasional constipation or diarrhea is not abnormal. Diarrhea or constipation that is frequently accompanied by abdominal pain or bloating for typically eight or more days a month is a sign that you may need to see a doctor.
What can I do about it?
In our office we recommend anyone showing symptoms of IBS try following the low FODMAP diet. The FODMAP acronym is derived from “Fermentable Oligio-, Di-, Monosaccharides and Polyols”. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the intestines and are naturally present in food and the human diet. Restriction of these types of foods has been found to improve symptom control in people with IBS and other gastrointestinal disorders. Since short-chain carbohydrates (lactose, fructose, sorbitol, fructans and GOS) are not absorbed properly in the small intestine, they enter the large intestine with additional fluid that generates gases (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane). The expansion of these gases in the gut stretch the intestinal wall and stimulate nerves in the gut. This “stretching” is what triggers the pain and discomfort commonly experienced by IBS sufferers.
Science-based evidence indicates that the Low FODMAP Diet (click here for a sample of foods) can help manage the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Following a low FODMAP diet strictly does not have to be a lifetime change. The Low FODMAP Diet is about monitoring your reaction to high FODMAP foods and finding a diet that suits your individual body. Working with a dietician is recommended.
The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and is slowly gaining popularity in the United States. Some studies have strengthened the case for the diet, and others show no advantage over a less-restrictive dietary approach that might eliminate fewer foods but stresses changes like smaller, more frequent meals instead. Medications, probiotics, fiber supplements and other approaches still have roles in treating IBS, and no one approach works for all patients.
The low FOMAP diet results we have seen with our patients have been positive. The most comprehensive list of low FODMAP foods can be found in the Monash University Low FODMAP DietTM App. You can download the app in the iPhone or Google Play app stores.
NorthShore Healthcare is an emerging group of some of the area’s most talented, respected physicians. Located in Northeast Ohio, the group focuses on the optimum care of each patient with next generation medicine and an enhanced patient experience.
NorthShore Primary Care doctors, Jennifer Carandang, MD, Sheila Rice, MD and Rebecca Ware, MD are three of the area’s most highly-regarded primary care physicians. They take the time to get to know each patient and are dedicated to each patient’s overall health and well-being. To learn more, visit www.northshorehealthcare.com/primarycare, or call our offices in Amherst at (440) 455-3090 or Avon at (440) 653-8091.
Source: Aboutibs.org, http://patients.gi.org, https://www.monashfodmap.com/i-have-ibs/get-the-app/