IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The irritable bowel syndrome or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a gastro-intestinal, chronic and debilitating functional disorder, of which about 1 in 5 people of the Western population suffer.

We may suspect that we are facing a case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome when we experience a feeling of pain or abdominal discomfort, recurring for at least 3 days a month in the last 3 months, associated with two or more of the following events:

  • Improvement of pain or discomfort after elimination
  • Onset of pain or discomfort in conjunction with the change in the frequency of the evacuation
  • Onset of pain or discomfort in conjunction with the change in the appearance of stools
Such symptoms must be present for at least 6 months in order to make a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis

Making the right diagnosis, however, is complicated, as this syndrome can occur in various forms:

  • Constipation: in which the subject presents mostly constipation, therefore hard stools or goats
  • Diarroic: in which the subject mostly has liquid or semi-formed stools
  • Mixed: in which the subject alternates episodes of constipation and liquid feces (alternate alair)
For some patients, however, irritable bowel syndrome can prove disabling: you may no longer be able to work, make social life or even make trips even if they are short.

No specific therapy has yet been discovered, but there are several possibilities for treating symptoms: your doctor will prescribe the best therapy for specific symptoms and encourage you to control your stress and change your diet.

Nutritional therapy, in these cases, is to follow what is called a diet low FODMAP.

What are FODMAP?

The term FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These are, therefore, short-chain carbohydrates that cause the greatest symptoms of irritable bowel (constipation, swelling, accelerated transit, meteorism).

Where is it contained?
The FODMAP are contained in a range of foods such as wheat, certain types of fruits and vegetables and some milk products. Depending on the food, we can find FODMAP different:

  • I FOS (Fruit- and Galatto-oligosaccaridi): they are found in cereals, such as wheat, barley, rye, oats; in legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas; in onion, leek, garlic, shallots; artichokes, fennel, chicory, red turnips, peas, cashews and pistachios
  • .
  • The : we mostly refer to lactose, contained in milk and derivatives (pudding, ice cream and yogurt
  • ).
  • The Monosaccaridi: we are essentially talking about free fruit, which we find in some fruits, such as apples, pears, mangoes, cherries, watermelon; honey and glucose syrup and fructose.
  • I Polyli: contained in everything that ends with –olo, then xylitol, mannitol, maltitle, sorbitol. They tend to be sweetening molecules found in chewing gum and light products. Polio is also present in fruit with hazelnuts such as peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, as well as mushrooms and cauliflower.
In the diet low in FODMAP we distinguish 3 stages:
  • The first stage involves the complete exclusion of foods containing fodmap for a period of 4 to 8 weeks. This step must be addressed under the supervision of a qualified and experienced professional
  • .
  • The second phase is the re-introduction phase. Depending on the symptoms, it will be determined which foods, and how often, they will be reintroduced
  • .
  • In the third phase long-term self-management of symptoms is achieved, with FODMAP food consumption up to tolerance.
Such a diet is a real alternative therapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, without having to resort to pharmacological or medical-surgical treatments, also affecting the economic impact that these pathologies have on the cost of health.

Unfortunately, foods that can make the situation worse are not common to all patients, so a patient work of inserting/excluding foods from the diet is necessary to detect those actually causing reactions by annotating them in a food diary.

Curated by
Dott.ssa Patalano Myriam Biologist Nutritionist

Ischia Nutrizione Patalano