Did you know that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects approximately 1 in 5 people nationally? That’s 20 per cent of the population.
But this may just be the tip of the iceberg as many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically recognised disorder. A functional gut disorder, IBS presents with symptoms of bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and nausea.
Melissa Hiller, 39, has suffered with Irritable Bowel Syndrome for almost 30 years, passing out regularly and ending up in hospital when the pain was unbearable. The sales rep and education consultant started with IBS symptoms when she was 13 but it went undiagnosed for years due to doctors thinking it was endometriosis.
“I underwent a hysterectomy in 2012, at 32, in the hope it would fix everything but saw no relief,” she says. “Last year, doctors discovered an abnormal growth I’d had on my bowel since birth and the surgeon hoped that was the reason for my symptoms all along. Again, wrong.
“Eight weeks later, once I’d resumed a ‘normal’ diet, the symptoms fired up again and one of my clients who is a trained dietician suggested looking at the low FODMAP diet as she believed all my symptoms were IBS.”
Caroline Robertson, naturopath at Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market, advises people who think they may have IBS to visit a healthcare professional for a diagnosis as it can continue indefinitely if mismanaged.
“To date, a low FODMAP Diet has shown to be the most effective method in relieving IBS-type symptoms, with up to 85 per cent of patients experiencing symptom relief, with 50-80 per cent of patients following the diet reporting an improvement in their symptoms,” she says.
“Stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and fatty stools are common IBS symptoms. But these can also occur with inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disorders, candida, giardia and colon cancer, so it’s best to get checked out.”
Once mum-of-one Melissa implemented the six week low FODMAP diet, she saw an immediate improvement, and then began introducing the groups one by one.
“FODMAP works for me and has made such a huge difference to my quality of life,” she adds. “But garlic and onion are huge triggers for me, so I use garlic-infused olive oil – and when cooking, I use the green part of spring onion or leek. It’s hard to avoid onion eating out though.
“Mango, stonefruit, mushrooms and watermelon are also triggers, and I get bloating with lactose and gluten. It’s not that those foods cause an allergy – I can eat them, but if I do, I’m choosing the symptoms.”
For more information on IBS, the low FODMAP Diet and gorgeous IBS-safe recipes, visit flannerys.com.au
About Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market
Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market offers a huge range of fresh, healthy and organic produce, including unpackaged bulk wholefoods, no added hormone organic and free-range meat, gluten-free products galore and plenty of healthy snacks. Pop in for free naturopathic advice, vegan-friendly and paraben-free cosmetics, plus all the regular health food supplies.
Photo credit of Melissa Hiller: Tanita Seton Photography