Irritable bowel, the correct diet is more effective than medicines

A correct diet, prescribed by the doctor, is sometimes just as good as a drug. If not more. Even and above all when we talk about irritable bowel syndrome, what was once generically defined colitis.
The framework, also defined by the acronym IBS, is very widespread. And it should not be underestimated, also and above all in terms of eating habits. Why the correct dietobviously by personalizing the treatment by the doctor, it could even result more effective than medicines that are used in this pathology.

This is according to research conducted by experts at the University of Gothenburg published on Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatologywhich shows that more than seven out of ten patients have had one significant reduction in symptoms thanks to the right diet. The research was coordinated by Sanna Nybacka, Stine Störsrud and Magnus Simrén.

Irritable bowel syndrome affects almost one in ten people and is more frequent in women, with a ratio of 3 to 1 compared to males. And it tends to start at a young age, yeah around twenty-thirty years old.

How much does the right diet weigh?

Typically, the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome involves different approaches. We go from simple directions on eating habits up to drugs to improve specific symptoms, such as gas or constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or abdominal pain. In some cases, even on top antidepressants to ease the burden of symptoms.

The research that explains once more how important nutrition is compared in subjects with severe or moderate symptoms three approaches: two exclusively dietary and one which involved the administration of drugs.
In particular, in one group the focus was on a low intake of fermentable carbohydrates, i.e. on the FODMAP diet, as well as particular attention to behavior at the table. This dietary model provides in general terms theelimination of products containing lactose, legumes, onions and cereals: these foods can ferment in the colon and therefore promote the appearance of pain in those suffering from IBS. The FODMAP diet was proposed by Peter Gibson and Susan Shepherd of Monash University in Melbourne and has been shown to limit symptoms.
In the second group the diet included a reduced carbohydrate content and consequently percentage increase in the amount of proteins and fats. In the third group, on a case-by-case basis, the most suitable drug for the patient's ailments was administered.

The treatment thus defined continued for four weeks and at the end the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome were assessed. Among those who received traditional dietary advice for IBS and a low FODMAP diet, 76% had a reduction significant symptoms. In the group receiving low carbohydrate and high protein and fat, the percentage dropped to 71%. Surprise: in the group treated with drugs the significant improvement in symptoms fell to 58%. It must be said, however, that in all people a improvement of quality of life, a decrease in physical ailments and better psychological health. These results, it must be said, were maintained even when the “control” of eating habits became less intense.
In the six-month evaluations, participants in the prescribed diet groups also returned to their old habits, but with still significant results in terms of well-being. However, a significant decrease in symptoms was observed in 68% in the low FODMAP diet group and 60% in the low carbohydrate diet group.

Not just stress, as irritable bowel syndrome is recognized

The strong stomach ache, which becomes a travel companion capable of appearing at least once a week in the last few months. And maybe even having a bowel movement becomes a challenge, whether there are bouts of diarrhea or the bowel stops for days. Perhaps all associated with swelling of the abdomen and an annoying sensation of meteorism. If there is also pain if you go to the bathroom… Here, in these cases don't just think about stress. Or rather, tension can make the situation worse, but it is not the cause of the phenomenon. If you experience discomfort of this type, it could be irritable bowel syndrome. And don't settle for a pat on the back and generic advice to control tension. Above all, do not underestimate the picture.

This condition is poorly recognized today and the diagnosis comes after a long time, also because it generally the symptoms are underestimated. The result is that sufferers resort to “do it yourself” or rely on unlikely solutions found on the internet to try to combat the symptoms. Some people live for decades with abdominal pain and bowel irregularities, but ignore, or compromise the problem by not considering it as such. Above all, this should not be considered a “trivial” condition.

Today we know that irritable bowel syndrome is a microorganic disease that involves different structures, from the intestinal microbiota to the cells of the intestinal wall, up to the submucosa and the immune system. On the clinical front, this extremely complex picture is revealed with the classic symptoms linked to poor intestinal functioning: the patient reports abdominal pain with discomfort associated with constipation or diarrhea, depending on the type of pathology.

How important is the correct diagnosis

In the diagnostic process it is therefore necessary to eliminate all possible organic causes of the disorder with targeted diagnostic tests, whether radiological or endoscopic, but above all it must be remembered that irritable bowel syndrome is also today considered an organic disease. This is the important concept that must pass and which must be conveyed to the patient. Before talking about irritable bowel syndrome, it is necessary exclude other situations, therefore specific checks are needed in case of onset or change of symptoms after the age of 50, sudden weight loss, in case of presence of blood in the stool and anemia, as well as swelling in the abdomen. It also matters a lot if you wake up at night due to disturbances. In the presence of signs and symptoms of this type, precise investigations are required to exclude organic causes. If this happens, the doctor can hypothesize irritable bowel syndrome and aim to recognize the factors at play.

It is important to remember that we are not faced with a psychosomatic illness. Irritable bowel syndrome, in other words, isn't “born” in the head, though stress can obviously worsen the situation.

Finally, there is one last aspect to consider: it is important that in people who have irritable bowel syndrome, the possible presence of celiac disease. In a minimal percentage of subjects who mainly present diarrheal discharges as key symptoms – we are around 3-4% – the symptoms may in fact be linked to this condition. Without forgetting of course that you can simply be particularly sensitive to gluten.