Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic disorder that involves the large intestine and causes bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea. Its exact cause is unknown, but scientists believe visceral hypersensitivity – a highly-sensitive intestinal tract – reacts to the normal distension of the gut by changing motility patterns and sending messages to the brain that may be misinterpreted.
This makes the intestines contract or spasm in an abnormal way, causing pain. These contractions can either speed up the passage of matter through the bowel, resulting in diarrhoea, or slow it down, causing constipation. A low-FODMAP diet reduces fermentation in the gut, reducing gas production, decreasing the distension of the bowel and reducing symptoms.
Other factors may play a part in IBS too. Research is underway on the gut microbiome –the collection of microbes or microorganisms that inhabit the digestive system, and their possible role. The effect of food chemical intolerance is also being looked at. Such chemicals may stimulate nerve endings in hypersensitive people, including those with IBS, resulting in pain and other symptoms.
Research is ongoing, and while scientists have yet to confirm whether eliminating food chemicals could help reduce IBS symptoms, they’ve identified several possible triggers. These include…
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