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Posts Tagged ‘IBS’

Can A Diet Alleviate IBS Symptoms In As Little As Two Weeks? Studies say YES! By Our Student Pharmacist, Sarah Jicomelli.

Five to seven percent of the US population has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but it is believed that 10-15% of people in the United States are actually affected due to underdiagnosing the disease.

IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements – this can mean either diarrhea (IBS-D), constipation (IBS-C), or a mix of both (IBS-M).

On average, more women than men experience IBS (almost double!) and it is more common in people younger than 50-years-old.

It is not entirely clear what can cause IBS, but some factors that can increase the chance of developing the syndrome are:

  • having a family member with IBS
  • a history of stressful life events (ex: child abuse)
  • having a severe infection in the digestive tract
  • depression and/or anxiety
  • food intolerances or sensitivities

Doctors have classified IBS as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning it is a problem stemming from the connection between the brain in the gut. In people with IBS, this disconnection can lead to their digestive tract being more sensitive and can actually change how the muscles contract! This leads to those hallmark symptoms of IBS like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

A doctor uses a patient’s symptom pattern to diagnose IBS:  symptoms for the last six months and for at least one week in the last three months constitutes a positive diagnosis.

Currently, there is no cure for IBS, but there are many options to treat the symptoms. Since IBS affects each person to person differently, it may take a while to land on a combination of treatments that works for an individual. One option is medication, and there are many choices to help treat the specific kind of IBS symptoms someone may have.

IBS-D medications:


IBS-C medications:

Laxatives (Miralax, bisacodyl, etc.,)

There are also medication options to help treat the abdominal pain that often comes with IBS:

Antispasmodics (dicyclomine, hyoscyamine, and hyoscine)
Antidepressants (amitriptyline, imipramine, desipramine, and nortriptyline)
Coated peppermint tablets (ex: IBGard)

Another option to manage IBS without adding medications is to modify the diet. If there is not enough fiber in the diet, taking fiber supplements can help with the constipation symptom of IBS.

The key with fiber supplements is to take them with a lot of water – fiber supplements without adequate water can cause constipation to get worse.

As mentioned previously, food sensitivities may be a cause of IBS, so avoiding those types of food can help with symptoms. Many people with IBS are sensitive to gluten and dairy, so removing those from the diet can help as well. In addition, a low FODMAP diet has been shown to help relieve symptoms in people with IBS – research has shown that it can decrease symptoms in 86% of people!

This diet is restrictive, but temporary, and is used to identify what may be causing someone’s symptoms. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are short-chain sugars that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine that can cause digestive problems like bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation, and gas. There are three steps to the low FODMAP diet:

1. Elimination: Discontinue eating any high FODMAP foods. Doctors recommend this phase lasting 2-6 weeks.
2. Introduction: Slowly introduce FODMAP foods back into the diet, every 3 days, to determine which ones cause symptoms.
3. Avoid: Once you figure out which foods can cause symptoms, you can completely avoid them or just limit them while enjoying everything else!

As with any other new diet, it is best to talk to your doctor to determine if this is a good choice for you. In addition, they can help you during the first, most restrictive phase in order to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition. They can also provide you with a full list of high FODMAP foods to avoid. The good news is that information is also readily available on the internet, so you can do some research and find out what works within the diet and what does not!

Monash University originated the diet through extensive research and their website is chalk full of information, tips and tricks, and low FODMAP recipes – they even have an app that allows you to quickly find out if a food is high or low FODMAP!

Their website is: https://www.monashfodmap.com/

Here are some recipes I found exciting:


“Definition & Facts for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Symptoms & Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome | NIDDK.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 12 Jan. 2020, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes.
“Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” American College of Gastroenterology, gi.org/topics/irritable-bowel-syndrome/#tabs2.
Lacy, Brian E., et al. “ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” American Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 116, no. 1, 14 Dec. 2020, pp. 17–44, webfiles.gi.org/links/PCC/ACG_Clinical_Guideline__Management_of_Irritable.11.pdf, 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001036. Accessed 7 July 2022.
“FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know.” Www.hopkinsmedicine.org, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fodmap-diet-what-you-need-to-know.
Monash University. “Low FODMAP Diet | IBS Research at Monash University Monash Fodmap.” Monashfodmap.com, 2019, www.monashfodmap.com/.
“What’s the Low FODMAP Diet?” Healthily, www.livehealthily.com/special-diet/whats-the-low-fodmap-diet. Accessed 18 July 2022.
“Low Fodmap Diet: What It Is, Uses & How to Follow.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22466-low-fodmap-diet.