What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation

Ashley Charlebois, RD, discusses IBS symptoms and treatment.

Quiz: Do You Understand Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:

Questions
True
False
1

When you are experiencing flare-ups of IBD, you want to eat a high-fiber diet.

Explanation:
When you are experiencing flare-ups of IBD, you want to eat a low-fiber diet. A low-fiber diet will give your digestive system a break. It reduces the amount and bulk of stool passing through the small intestine, which can ease symptoms such as cramping and bloating.
2

The most common mental health condition people with IBS have is generalized anxiety disorder.

Explanation:
Research has found that about 60% of people with IBS have generalized anxiety disorder. There are several theories about why, including: IBS may be triggered by the immune system, which is affected by stress; anxiety may trigger chemicals in the brain that turn on pain signals in the gut and cause the colon to react.
3

Exercise can improve digestion and mood in people with IBS.

Explanation:
Research has shown that people with IBS who do some form of exercise such as yoga, walking, cycling or swimming may improve digestion, reduce IBS symptoms and experience less depression and anxiety. Because there is a mind-body connection component to exercise, it can be a valuable physical and mental health treatment tool.
4

Soda and seltzer can help reduce IBS symptoms.

Explanation:
Soda and seltzer can actually trigger an IBS flare-up because of the carbonation. Generally, people with IBS should avoid caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, as they may increase stomach acid production, cause bloating and gassiness or lead to diarrhea or constipation.
5

People with IBS may need to avoid broccoli and cauliflower.

Explanation:
Some people with IBS can enjoy cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts without any issues. However, some people find that these vegetables cause gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
(Answer all questions to activate)

Ashley Charlebois, RD, discusses Irritable Bowel Disease Symptoms and Treatment

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means that it affects the mobility of the gastrointestinal tract.

We are not entirely sure what causes IBS, but we do know that the enteric nervous system is involved, and it does create the gut to be hypersensitive to certain food triggers and to stress.

If you think you have IBS, or you feel like you are exerting certain symptoms of it, you should visit your local medical doctor. If you want more help gaining control over your symptoms of IBS, visit your local registered dietitian.

Presenter: Ms. Ashley Charlebois, Registered Dietitian, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Registered Dietitian

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Diet

If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, there are solutions that you can do with your diet.

What you want to do will depend on what phase of the disease you are in. There are actually two different phases because you will go through periods of flare-ups where your symptoms are exacerbated, and then you’ll go through periods where your symptoms are more under control, and this is completely normal, but you do want to have a longer period where your symptoms are under control obviously.

When you are experiencing flare-ups of IBD, you want to have a low fiber diet. If you have extremely severe symptoms, you might actually have to go to a completely elemental diet, which just means that you will have to have nutritional supplements that have predigested nutrients, and that is something you can get more help with from your local dietitian.

When your symptoms are more under control, you can tolerate fiber, so it’s a good idea to actually have a high fibre diet, so it’s completely opposite of when you are having worse symptoms.

Whether or not you’re experiencing flare-up or if your symptoms are under control, you do want to avoid common trigger foods for your symptoms, such as alcohol, such as caffeine, high-fat foods, fried foods, processed foods, as well as foods that contain high amounts of lactose like dairy products if you are lactose intolerant, which is actually quite common in individuals with IBD.

There are some alternatives if you’re having problems with certain foods. For example, instead of having milk you can have almond milk or soy milk. Instead of – if you’re not able to digest high fiber foods because you’re experiencing a flare-up and you need to have a more low fiber diet, you can have certain things like applesauce or canned vegetables and fruits to ease the digestion.

Key things to remember are that you do want to have high fiber foods when you’re not experiencing a flare-up because it is important to get that fiber intake in in periods that you can tolerate it.

It’s also important that you seek extra help from your doctor if you need to manage this through other options other than diet such as medications. Otherwise do visit your local registered dietitian for more information and for more help with dietary management of IBD.

Presenter: Ms. Ashley Charlebois, Registered Dietitian, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Registered Dietitian

Diabetes Now

Diabetes Now

QA Chat
Ask us a health question on
diagnosis/treatment options...