IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Are you suffering with uncomfortable digestive issues, such as; bloating, excessive wind, constipation, diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain?

You may be one of the millions of Australians suffering from IBS. This is a condition which can occur at any age, and it is becoming increasingly common.

It is important that any new symptoms or changes in bowel function are discussed with your doctor, but once you have a diagnosis of IBS, a dietitian can help you manage your symptoms and, importantly, help you address your gut health over the long term.


FODMAPs are certain kinds of carbohydrate in foods that can trigger symptoms in people with IBS because they are poorly digested.  Reducing intake of trigger FODMAPs can improve IBS symptoms in about 75% of IBS sufferers. They are found in a wide range of foods, including very healthy foods, and so a FODMAP diet is not meant to be followed over the long term, nor is it a cure for IBS.  Rather a low-FODMAP diet should be done under the guidance of a dietitian to identify problem foods and improve quality of life, but with minimal dietary restriction to ensure nutritional adequacy.

There is also evidence that unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms can be due to intolerances to a number of other things in our food, such as gluten, or certain chemicals, both natural and artificial, that are in a wide range of foods. A dietitian can help with a structured plan to identify these intolerances, as well as helping to ensure that you still meet your dietary needs around these restrictions.

If significant diet change or a full dietary investigation is not practical or manageable for you, a dietitian can work with you to create a more simplified diet approach that can help to bring some symptom relief without intolerable disruption.

Lifestyle change

As well as addressing  FODMAPs intolerances, dealing with a range of diet habits that can impact on digestive function can significantly improve IBS symptoms. This includes factors like timing and size of meals, or intake of alcohol and other gut irritants. Lifestyle changes such as exercise and stress management can play a role in improving symptoms, as for many IBS sufferers high stress levels make symptoms worse. There is also evidence that specialised gut hypnotherapy can be very effective in helping to reduce symptoms of IBS.

Long-term gut health

Once unpleasant symptoms have been reduced, the ultimate aim of a dietitian’s approach to dealing with IBS is to try to improve gut health and general wellbeing with a healthy diet. There is increasing evidence that improving gut function and the microbiome, the friendly bacteria that live in the gut, is central to long term good health.

Pro Nutrition SA Catrin Daly, Dietitian

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