Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the name given to a collection of common gastrointestinal symptoms that is estimated to affect up to 13% of people in Australia1.
The symptoms of IBS vary from person to person and may include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and excess gas.
IBS is generally classed into 3 areas, constipation dominant-IBS (IBS-C) estimated 24.1% of IBS cases, diarrhoea-dominant IBS (IBS-D) estimated 25.4% of cases or alternating diarrhoea and constipation (IBS-A or M), estimated 46.7% of cases.2
There are many costs associated with IBS. Besides the direct cost of treating IBS symptoms, there can also be a loss of productivity in the workplace, either through absenteeism or reduced functioning while at work. The quality of life of affected individuals can also be impacted. People with IBS may be missing activities and social events due to their symptoms.
While the exact cause of this condition is not well understood, factors such as genetics, history of infections, bacteria living in the gut, inflammation, stress or diet could trigger IBS symptoms3. Fortunately, research has found the condition can usually be managed through various lifestyle and nutrition modifications.
So while certain foods or diets can make IBS worse, specific foods may improve symptoms, for example, foods low in FODMAPs. You should always discuss the best solution for you with your healthcare professional. For many people with medically-diagnosed IBS, discomfort can be reduced by keeping track of, and avoiding or reducing specific amounts of foods that trigger IBS symptoms, as well as consuming adequate dietary fibre.4 New research on the benefits of probiotics shows that these may be effective in helping people with IBS also.5
Digestive health is a primary area of focus at Nestlé Health Science, and we are committed to finding and providing nutritional solutions to those suffering from digestive conditions such as IBS.
1 Wilson et al. 2004. British Journal of General Practice. 405-502.
2 Canavan C, West J, Card T. 2014. The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Epidemiol. 2014; 6: 71–80. Published online 2014 Feb 4. doi: 10.2147/CLEP.S40245. PMCID: PMC3921083,
3 Ford et al. 2016. Pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1: 133–46
4 Halmos et al. 2014. A Diet Low in FODMAPs Reduces Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. J Gastroenterology 2014;146:67–7
5 Eskesen et al.2015. Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12®, on defecation frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. British Journal of Nutrition (2015), 114, 1638–1646