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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Explained


IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome.

It’s a condition that’s estimated to affect the lives of approximately 10 percent of the world’s population, with over 3 million Americans suffering from symptoms that can range from unnoticeable to debilitating.

People with IBS often face frequent, urgent bowel movements and/or debilitating stomach cramps or spasms.

Luckily, there are ways of managing your symptoms so that your quality of life is not impacted every single day.

There are three categories in which foods fall into when it comes to their effect on IBS symptoms.

Foods that are considered “irritants” contribute or bring about increased diarrhea and gastrointestinal spasms, while foods known as “protectants” are believed to limit immune response in order to ease symptoms of excess diarrhea. Foods in the third category are called “neutral.”

Learning more about irritable bowel syndrome can help you better understand and know how to control your symptoms.

In this article we will give you some guidance on what you should know when it comes to IBS. 


Symptoms of IBS


The signs and symptoms of IBS are variable but are usually present for long periods of time. Common symptoms include:

– Abdominal pain
– Cramping
– Bloating that are related to passing a bowel movement,
– Changes in the appearance of bowel movement
– Changes in how often you are having a bowel movement 


symptoms of ibs - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Causes of IBS


The exact cause of IBS isn’t known, the physical processes involved in IBS can also vary, but may consist of:

– Slowed or spastic movements of the colon, causing painful cramping
– Abnormal serotonin levels in the colon, affecting motility and bowel movements
– Mild coeliac disease that damages the intestines, causing IBS symptoms.


IBS Improvements


If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, there are several treatment options that can help to reduce the effects of this disorder.

Probiotics are one of the most common irritable bowel treatments available for people suffering from IBS, in part because they have been scientifically proven in multiple instances to provide relief in people with irritable bowel syndrome.

The main reason probiotics are considered effective is because they boost the immune system, prevent diarrhea and constipation by reducing inflammation in the colon wall and promote balance within the digestive tract by feeding healthy bacteria cellular material to further aid digestion.

Not all of them may be the right fit for you.

Keeping a close eye on some of the following may help you to maintain good gut health and avoid flare-ups.

Food & Symptom Journal
Keeping a food and symptom journal is important to see if an individual has a sensitivity to certain foods.
Keeping a symptom journal also make it easier to track the frequency of symptoms.

Digestion Improvements
Improve your digestion with these three steps:

– Eat at regular times each day.
– Avoid eating late at night
– Enjoy three meals a day and up to one to two snacks spaced evenly throughout the day.
– Try to not overeat
– Eat when you are relaxed

Consume plenty of fluids
People with IBS-D may experience dehydration from frequent bouts of diarrhea and may need to drink extra fluids and electrolytes to keep their bodies hydrated. People with IBS-C also need extra water to help the stool move through the intestines. 

ibs symptoms causes prevention - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

IBS Diet

A good food list can be difficult to create because there isn’t one single definitive guide to the topic. Everyone has their own ideas on what foods they think are healthy and tasty, and they will react differently to certain foods as well.

A simple rule is to go for as much variety as possible throughout your day, combining vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in your meals.

Eat lots of high-quality protein from fish or animal sources as well as raw nuts or seeds each day.

Here we break down the three categories explaining each:

Irritant Foods:
These types of foods tend to aggravate the digestive system and cause inflammation in the body, eliminate your trigger foods:

– Dairy products (think: butter, yogurt, and cheese)

– Spicy and fatty foods

– Alcohol (wine and beer mostly)

– Caffeine like coffee and tea

– Tomatoes

– Onions

– Garlic

Protectant Foods:
These types of food tend to calm the digestive system and unlikely to cause flare-ups:

– Vegetables

– Legumes

– Whole Grains

– Fish

– Raw nuts and seeds

– Fresh Fruit

– Herbs

Neutral Foods:
These types of food are good sources of soluble fiber and can help with regular pain-free bowel movements:

– Oats

– Oat Bran

– Ground Flax Seed

– Bran Cereals

– Whole wheat bread

– Whole wheat pasta

– Brown Rice

healhty diet for ibs - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


Exercise for IBS


Exercise is excellent for IBS sufferers because it can release endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

This makes the symptoms of IBS easier to cope with because exercise also helps reduce stress levels. The release of endorphins during exercise can also make gastrointestinal syndrome symptoms less severe.

These are reduced further when parasympathetic nervous system activity is stimulated through exercise. The first step should always be to consult a healthcare professional first before embarking on any physical activity.

Discuss the possible risks and benefits with them, choose an appropriate exercise program, one that’s suitable to your gastrointestinal disorder diagnosis and particular condition.

Exercise commonly used by people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome includes:

– Walking
– Jogging
– Cycling
– Swimming
– Pilates
– Aerobics

Exercise is part of the behavioral health and holistic care necessary to improve the brain-gut axis and outcomes in IBS, says Brennan Spiegel, MD, a gastroenterologist and a professor of medicine and public health and the director of health services research at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.


ibs colonoscopy - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Colonoscopy for IBS


The vast majority of people don’t know what a colonoscopy is.

It is an examination of the colon and rectum using a colonoscope (a long, flexible tube with a tiny viewing camera on the end).

The colonoscopy is used not only to diagnose colorectal cancer, but also to screen for colorectal cancer, polyps, diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other possible intestinal diseases.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer, just after breast cancer. The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable.

A colonoscopy can be a helpful tool for those with symptoms of IBS that may be caused by other symptoms such as symptoms of colon cancer.

The symptoms of colon cancer can be symptoms such as rectal bleeding, pain in the lower back, and weight loss.

These symptoms are not always present, but when they are, they are indicators that a person should have a colonoscopy to investigate the cause of the symptoms.

A colonoscopy can also be used to diagnose conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and infections in someone who has IBS symptoms.




There are different treatment options that can be used in the management of IBS, including medication, surgery, medical therapies, nutritional and dietetic therapies.

Can you relate?  Are these symptoms familiar in your own life?

Dr. Schneider is here to provide you with expert medical advice in the field of gastroenterology with years of experience.

Book an appointment online or contact us  on 011 482-3010 to find out more. 



The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.