Irritable bowl syndrome has now become one of the most common disease of modern times. It can cause extreme discomfort and can severely affect your quality of life. Unfortunately, there is no wonder drug or surgical procedure that can cure it. The reason for this is that it does not change the physiology of the gut. Rather, it is a functional disorder of the gut.
The FODMAP Diet
The dietary management for IBS is the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligiosaccharide Disaccharide Monosaccaride and Polyols which are a collection of short-chain carbohydrates. These act as triggers when they aren’t absorbed properly in the gut. The FODMAP diet involves eliminating short-chain carbohydrates from the diet that can cause symptoms like constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea, then re-introducing each FODMAP group to identify which food group is actually triggering the IBS symptoms.
Gut direct hypnotherapy
The other well researched tool to help manage IBS is gut directed hypnotherapy. Hypnosis involves facilitating mental imaginative scenarios for the patient which can alter the perceptions and emotions of the patient. The patient is put in a ‘trance’. Specifically, gut directed hypnotherapy is aimed at trying to calm the gastrointestinal system by using positive imagery such as helpful metaphors. An example includes visualising the gastrointestinal tract as a river which is in control of the patient.
The brain and gut are interconnected. The nerves in the gut respond to the brain. Therefore, if you are feeling stressed or anxious you may find that you experience diarrhea. This is due to contractions created in the stomach in response to the feelings of stress. In the case of patients with IBS, the nerves in their gut can be more sensitive than usual to stress and heightened emotions. This is known as ‘visceral hypersensitivity’. Viscera refers to the internal organs in the body, in particular, the stomach and intestines. The gut has its own nervous system known as the ‘enteric nervous system’.
Other lifestyle changes
Other behavioural techniques can be used to manage IBS. These include meditation, yoga or activities that can help with de-stressing such as dancing and listening to music. Including these activities in your routine is a good way to calm your nervous system which in turn relaxes your gut. Another benefit to these lifestyle changes is that it increases your tolerance to FODMAPs, because when your gut is relaxed it is not reacting as strongly to the FODMAP triggers.
The low FODMAP diet and gut hypnotherapy are well researched methods to help manage IBS. However, they are not quick-fix solutions. It is always best to see specialist dietitians and therapists to help implement strategies.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian and nutritionist Juhi Bhambhaney. If you have any questions regarding health and nutrition, make an appointment with one of our dietitians. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.