Are you one of the 7% of New Zealanders with IBS or do you know someone with IBS?

Did you know that 2/3 of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is undiagnosed? Currently 7% of New Zealanders are diagnosed with IBS, this means there is likely ~21% of the population battling with the same symptoms that youare.

This month is IBS awareness month, Nutrition & Life dietitians are dedicated to helping our clients feel like themselves again. It is time to normalise IBS and seek support before you decrease your quality of life. Get ahead of the curve by seeking support if you:

Have recurrent abdominal pain on average for at least 1 day per week in the last 3 months, associated with 2 of the following:

o   Related to bowel movements.

o   Associated with a change in number of bowel motions.

o   Associated with a change in stool consistency.

The cause of IBS is unknown but here are some possible reasons:

-       Altered movement.

-       Altered gut bacteria.

-       Heightened gut-brain communication.

-       Poor diet, low in fibre, probiotics, and polyphenols.

No matter the cause, there is a sequence of treatment we work through with our clients. The first step focuses on lifestyle interventions which is something often missed when googling “IBS symptom management”.

For 4 years I dealt with the crippling symptoms of IBS that flared with stressful moments in my life. The science behind this is the conversation the brain and the gut share. The gut in times of stress can be hypersensitive, sending messages to the brain that something is not right. The other side of this conversation is the stress can speed up movement of the gut or increase secretions in the bowel known as mucus.

I want to share with you a technique to calm your symptoms that worked for me!

Why should we let IBS rain on our parade? Let’s start with work you can do every day without any need to meet with a health care professional! Take control of gut movement and reduce stress levels with deep/diaphragmatic breathing.

Get your gut back on tract using the following steps:

1)    Sit up straight.

2)    Place a hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach.

3)    Breath into the depth of your belly. In through your nose.

4)    Hold for 2 seconds.

5)    Breath out through your mouth for 5 seconds.

6)    Repeat at least 5 times.

Attach this new behaviour to something you do at least twice a day such as brushing your teeth or before eating a meal. This will help you remember to engage with deep breathing and like me feel lasting relief and reduced gut symptoms.

If you want nutrition and lifestyle advice to take your IBS symptom management to the next level, get in touch with our team of specialist dietitians.