Do you have irritable bowel syndrome?
What is irritable bowel syndrome? According to researchers at Monash University, “Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder affecting one in seven Australian adults and is also common in the USA, Europe and many Asian countries. IBS is characterised by chronic and relapsing symptoms; lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, wind, distension and altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhoea to constipation) but with no abnormal pathology.”
How is IBS diagnosed?
IBS should be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. The symptoms of IBS can mimic that of other conditions such as coeliac disease, crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These latter gastrointestinal conditions can have far greater consequences on your health. It is for this reason that a medical practitioner must first eliminate these conditions as a potential cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms. Before eliminating any foods you suspect as a trigger for your symptoms, first see your GP for a thorough investigation.
Can diet help?
Approximately 75% of IBS cases find relief with adherence to a low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccarides, Disaccharides, Monosaccaharides and Polyols. These are all types of carbohydrates that are fermented in the bowel and may cause bloating and discomfort.
Want to learn more about FODMAPs? Watch the video
As there are a range of FODMAPs, it is important to investigate which of these you may be intolerant to so that you are not restricting foods unnecessarily, putting yourself at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Investigating FODMAP intolerance’s is done via either a low FODMAP diet followed by a series of FODMAP challengers, or by hydrogen breath testing.
Hydrogen Breath Testing?
Hydrogen breath testing is a non-invasive technique that determines your absorptive capacity for particular FODMAPs. If FODMAPs are not absorbed they are then fermented in the bowel, hydrogen is produced and can be measured in the breath through one of our hydrogen breath testing instruments. Only one test can be performed every two days, and the duration of each test is usually 2-3 hours.
The tests performed are:
- Lactulose (ascertains small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), orocaecal transit time and hydrogen production)
- Glucose (tests for SIBO)
Each test costs $40. Health fund rebates may apply so please check with your provider. There are no medicare rebates for these tests.
Elimination diet and FODMAP challengers?
An elimination diet may assist you to determining which of the FODMAPs you are intolerant to. This requires an initial dietetic consultation followed by a strict 2-3 week low FODMAP diet. Once you have established that there has been an improvement in your gastrointestinal symptoms, a further dietetic consult is required to assess and plan your FODMAP food challengers. This process can take weeks to months to complete depending on your reactions to the particular challengers. A final dietetic consult is required to assess your diet for nutrient adequacy based on the probability of food restriction.
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