Lifestyle changes that can help you manage irritable bowel syndrome

April 2019

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort and it is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows that IBS is more common in women than in men and begins in young adulthood. Some IBS patients experience weight loss because they avoid foods that may trigger IBS symptoms.


Only a few people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms.  The signs and symptoms of IBS vary but most of them include:

  • Excess gas
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping or bloating that is partially relieved by passing a bowel movement ₁

The exact causes of IBS are not yet fully understood but some experts think that it is related to increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food. Factors that appear to play a role include:

  • Inflammation of the intestines: Some people with IBS have an increased number of immune system cells in their intestines.

This is associated with diarrhoea and pain.

  • Bacteria: IBS can be associated with an excess of bacteria (bacterial growth) in the intestines.
  • Digestion problems: The body moves food through the digestive system by squeezing and relaxing the intestine muscles. When food moves too slowly through the digestive system, it causes constipation.

When food moves too quickly through the digestives system, it causes diarrhoea.

  • IBS triggers: Certain drinks and foods that we consume can trigger the symptoms of IBS.

These can include: 1. Fried and fatty foods 2. Chocolate 3. Beverages that contain caffeine 4. Alcohol 5. Fizzy Drinks 6. Stress ₂ “Given that IBS is a chronic condition with no cure, lifestyle and dietary changes are recommended,” says Gert Coetzee Pharmacist and Diet pioneer, who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About. Below he lists some hints and tips that can help you manage IBS. Avoid foods that are high in fat: It is important to avoid consuming fats when you have IBS.

Meals that are high in fat can cause strong colon contractions which can lead to cramps and diarrhoea in people with IBS. Increase your fiber intake: Increasing your intake of fibre can help improve symptoms of constipation.

Whole-grain breads and cereal, beans, vegetables and fruits are good sources of fiber. Remember to add foods with fiber to your diet a little at a time as too much fiber at once can cause gas. Avoid eating foods that are hard to digest: Garlic, onions, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli can be difficult for your intestines to break down. When your intestines break these foods down it causes gas and sometimes constipation.

Stay away from alcohol: Alcohol is a big trigger for people with IBS as it can be dehydrating and can affect digestion. Avoid chocolate: Chocolate can trigger IBS because of its caffeine concentration and high sugar content.

Some people may experience constipation after consuming chocolate. Avoid fried foods: The high fat content in these foods can be hard on the systems of people with IBS.

Consider grilling or baking your favourite foods as a heathier option. Limit your intake of dairy: Dairy is problematic for people with IBS as it can cause diarrhea.

For more information or if you’d like to join The Diet Everyone Talks About: Tel: (016) 362 4890