Bloating

Today I’m going to talk about bloating. Why? Because I think this is an important issue that affects so many people. And I’ve seen with my own eyes, the impact it can have on someone – not just physically (where you can actually see their tummy is swollen; making their clothes tight), but also mentally. It can have a dramatic, negative impact on your quality of life. Can you can relate to all this?

 

So today I’m going to cover…

  1. What is bloating
  2. What you can do to reduce bloating
  3. How to check your progress

 

This way you can learn what habits and foods may increase your symptoms, and what to do instead.

 

Let’s get into this…

What is Bloating?

Maybe seems like a silly question, but what we actually mean when we say we feel bloated, can mean different things to different people. It might be that, when we say we feel bloated, we really feel like we need to have a good fart, or we feel stuffed after eating a big meal.

 

Your tummy can feel swollen and uncomfortable. It can feel like you’re full, and it may or may not be painful too. It may also cause your tummy to actually get bigger (- you may have heard your doctor or other healthcare professional say “distended”). All this can impact on your self-confidence, what you wear, if you go out or not, and for some, it can affect their relationships. Is this you?

 

We can all feel bloated at times, regardless of if we suffer with IBS. But when you have IBS, your body can be more sensitive to the sensation of being bloated; making you more aware of this. And just because you have IBS doesn’t mean to say you get bloated.

 

Bloating may be associated with factors such as overeating and then feeling stuffed, constipation, excessive wind, your period (menstrual cycle), side effects of some medications, or a condition such as coeliac disease. Getting to the bottom of this can be helpful in working out the best way to manage it.

What Can I Do To Try To Reduce My Bloating

Firstly, you need to understand why you’re getting bloated. You could speak to your doctor about this. Or you could try to work this out for yourself or speak with a Dietitian for help.

 

Here’s a few things you could try (in no particular order of importance):

 

  1. Take your time to eat and chew your food well
    • This can help reduce gulping in air when you eat
    • And help you avoid overeating and then feeling stuffed
  2. Take up relaxation practices, such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga
    • Symptoms can seem worse if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or worried about something (or it may be the impact of the symptoms stressing you out, so it’s like a “catch 22”), so taking steps to reduce these stresses and unhelpful feelings may help relieve your symptoms as well as benefit general wellbeing – check out this post on stress
  3. Make sure you don’t eat large meals or overeat
  4. Check out how much fibre is in your diet
    • If you’re eating loads of fibre, then this may be causing your symptoms
    • Or maybe you’ve recently increased the amount of fibre you eat? Because maybe you’ve seen in the media about the all health benefits of fibre, so decided to increase your intake. But if you didn’t do this gradually, then this may be behind your symptoms
    • The type of fibre you’re eating may also be an issue for you – like if you’re eating loads of wholegrain products
    • Check out my post on fibre here
  5. If you normally eat loads of beans and pulses, try avoiding these to see if you get any improvement
  6. Do you normally eat for example, sprouts and cauliflower – maybe try avoiding these
  7. Try avoiding fizzy drinks if you normally have these
  8. If you regularly eat sugar free chewing gum or mints and/or frequently use artificial sweeteners, then try avoiding these
  9. Try having porridge oats and linseedsmore info on linseeds here
  10. Speak with your doctor about ways to help manage your symptoms, such as medications or referral for psychological support
  11. Is it related to your period – try recording a “bloating diary” and see if this falls around the same time
  12. You could also try the low FODMAP diet, but don’t try this without the support of a Dietitian

 

How To Check Your Progress

It’s important to check your progress to know if you’ve improved or not. To do this, you need to know your starting point, so you can compare how things are going – otherwise you won’t really know if your changes have worked…unless the results are dramatically different that it’s so obvious!

 

  1. Starting point or “baseline assessment”
    • Time to get out a note pad and pen. And keep it with you, so you can log things as you go! – it’s much easier (and more accurate!) than trying to remember everything from earlier that day or even from the day before!
    • You need to record what your symptoms are like
    • And it’s also handy to record what you’ve to had to eat and drink
    • You may also want to record when you’re having your period to see if there’s any patterns
  2. After making changes
    • After you’ve made a change, whether it be dietary, relaxation, exercise, medications, or whatever, you need to monitor your symptoms again
    • Then compare your before and after symptoms – did you see any improvement? You’ll also need to give yourself enough time for signs of any improvement, as results may not be immediate and try not to get disheartened

 

I don’t want you to have an unnecessarily restricted diet, because 1), this could lead to inadequate nutrient intake and 2), it’ll be pretty boring for you!

 

For example, you think you eat a lot of fibre, so you cut out eating breads, cereal, potatoes, rice, pasta, nuts, vegetables and fruits. You find your symptoms have improved. Yippeee! Great stuff. But this doesn’t leave you much to eat! And. Do you continue with this because your symptoms are better, and you’re scared of getting them back. Or, do you try to work out exactly which food(s) are triggers for you? So, you need to try a food at a time – as otherwise how will you know which one helped! But also, you need to reintroduce foods back into your diet.

 

What Life Could Look Like Without Feeling Bloated

Imagine what your life could be like if you tried these tips and you realised your symptoms had improved!

 

Why not try making changes to your diet and lifestyle to see if it helps. Why not take action today, because you’ll be a step closer to getting your symptoms under control. If these don’t work or if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all and want support, then don’t struggle alone and get in touch.

 

Imagine knowing what your symptom triggers are and then feeling in control. Not your symptoms controlling you for once.

For argument sake, imagine that you love beans on toast on a Saturday morning. No work today. No rushing about to get the kids to school. Just nice and relaxed. Sitting at the table with a nice brew, eating the soggy toast that’s soaked up the bean juice, then mopping it all up with the last piece of toast. Yum. This is one of the foods you miss the most. But now you know beans are an issue for you, and today you have no intentions of going out – you’re just going to chill out and binge watch a few episodes on Netflix, so you’re happy to take the consequences this time, and actually, you’ve found your symptoms to beans aren’t so bad when you eat less than half a tin, like on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being horrendous, they’re only a 5, so you feel you can handle this. And you know you need to wear your “comfies” today.

 

Summary

  1. Bloating can be with or without visible swelling of your tummy, and it may also be very painful
  2. It can be associated with several factors, such as constipation, or your period
  3. Take time to understand your symptoms and what can bring them on, i.e. what are your triggers
  4. Record a food and symptom diary to track your progress
  5. Lifestyle, diet and medications can be helpful in managing bloating
  6. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about your symptoms, need help managing your IBS or haven’t yet been diagnosed

 

I hope you found this useful and will try these suggestions to see if your bloating improves. And why not share this post with your friends, family or colleagues who may also benefit.

 

Please be aware this is for general information only and isn’t a substitute for professional advice from a doctor or Dietitian.

 

There’s lots of information out there, some of which will be incorrect. For tailored dietary advice, I would always go to a Registered Dietitian, and not the likes of a Nutritional Therapist, “diet expert” or naturopath, who aren’t qualified to assess, diagnose and treat nutrition-related issues.

 

If you haven’t had a diagnosis of IBS or any other bowel condition, and maybe you’re suffering in silence, then please pluck up the courage to speak to your doctor.It’s wise not to self-diagnose. And definitely don’t go “Googling” your symptoms, as it might come back with loads of scary stuff, which could set you off on a worrying-spiral, and make you feel even worse.

This is another reason why you need to make sure you have a diagnosis of IBS, so they can rule out other conditions. Several conditions can have similar signs or symptoms but require different management or treatment.

 

Good luck and I truly hope things improve for you.

 

 

 

Resources

Here, I’ve collated some useful information and resources for IBS, which I feel you will find helpful. Got some ideas and suggestions for other stuff? – please let me know – I’d love to hear from you, because it’ll likely help other peeps like you too!

Sharing ideas, experiences and raising awareness of this horrible, frustrating, depressing condition can only but help.

1. Simple Guide To Fibre

There’s been a lot of stuff in the news lately about how good fibre is and the potential health risks if you don’t eat enough, but fibre can be a nightmare for people like you with IBS, so I’ve created an information booklet with you in mind! So grab your FREE simple Guide to Fibre…

fibre
Click to download your FREEBIE!

2. IBS Survival Tips

Why not download your FREE copy and make sure you keep it handy for a helpful lil reminder!

IBS survival tips
Click image to download your FREE guide!

3. How To Use Linseeds (Flax)

Linseeds are great for various reasons, including helping with bowel issues, so have a look at these previous posts for some more info and ideas: IBS and Linseeds and 10 Ways With Linseeds … you may be thinking it’s all very well deciding I want to try them, but what do you actually do with them (!!) – this FREE guide will help you…

10 ways with linseeds
Click image to download – it’s completely FREE!

4. Food, Mood & Symptom Diary

Struggling to understand your IBS and work out what may be triggering your symptoms? Well if you buy this diary, you can fill it in and monitor your diet, mood, activity levels and symptoms.

IBS food diary…Coming soon! 

5. Food Label Checker

This food label checker isn’t necessarily directly related to IBS, but just because you have IBS doesn’t mean to say you don’t need to check labels or that you’re fluent in reading labels. So if you want some more info on understanding food labels, check this out, but don’t forget to download your FREE handy guide to working out what’s what with how “healthy” or “unhealthy” something is or for comparing products!

Food label checker
Click to download your FREE guide!

I’ll keep adding to this, so keep checking back and keep an eye out for new stuff!

Feel free to have a browse round my other blog posts too!

Don’t forget to share your ideas and suggestions of other stuff you think would be useful to you and others suffering with IBS. Or feel free to comment below!

Is Stress Causing My Diarrhoea?

What is stress?

Well, stress is not necessarily bad, although over a long period of time it can be. It’s our response to something we see as difficult or is a threat. Our “fight or flight” mode kicks in.

stressed and upset

Why or how can stress effect my IBS?

Stress can make us more aware of our symptoms, and our symptoms can totally stress us out! Catch 22.

I like how Professor Whorwell describes stress in his book – pretend getting symptoms is on a scoring system out of 100 … if your diet totals up 70 points (- points not meaning prizes here, though) and stress adds 40 points, then you’re going to be in for a rough ride 🙁 however, on another day, your diet gives you 30 points and about the same again for stress, then this day won’t be as bad. But if only it was as simple as that though!!

By the way, Professor Whorwell is a specialist in Medicine and Gastroenterology (so he knows a thing or two about the gut!). His book is Take Control of Your IBS: The Complete Guide to Managing Your Symptoms. Check it out. It’s not full of pictures but it is full of useful info!

From speaking with sufferers myself, and research does also show that psychological support can be helpful for some people. These are things like counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

What can I do about my stress?

Stress. Tackle it. Talk about it. Seek help. Take action.

A lil bit of stress is okay – it can give us the kick up the bum we need to get our butts in gear, like if we have a deadline to meet, but chronic stress, stress over a long time is not healthy and we need to nip it in the bud.

Some sources of support:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Your GP
  4. The IBS Network
  5. MIND
  6. Local services near you

Take-home Messages

  1. Practice relaxation techniques – try some yoga or Pilates, walking or sitting outdoors where there’s plenty of greenery. Also check out MIND, NHS Inform
  2. To unwind, do some reading, listen to music, have a laugh with family and friends, or go for a walk
  3. Be active everyday, whatever your level of fitness – housework, gardening, walking, slow or brisk, going to the gym, running, sports, swimming, whatever you enjoy – you’ve got to enjoy it to be consistent and consistency is key!
  4. It can take a lot of courage to get outdoors, for fear of symptoms, but be prepared
  5. Keep a journal; reflect – write about your day, what happened, what went well, what didn’t go so well, how you felt, what you could’ve done to improve things
  6. Write a list of what is stressing you out, why it’s stressing you and what you could do to reduce/get rid of the stress – do you need someone’s help, who could help you
  7. You could also write a list of all the positive things in your life and all the things that make you happy – when you’re feeling miserable or stressed, just look at your “happy list” and remind yourself of all these positive things

If you’re having a lot of loose, runny poohs, make sure you’re drinking enough to avoid dehydration.

helping

Need some help? Get in touch

These are my own opinions that I wish to share. I want to raise awareness of this issue and prompt peeps like you that may be suffering with stress/anxiety to seek help. So please do seek help from your doctor if you are concerned about stress or anxiety in yourself or a loved one.

*This post contains an affiliate link because I want to share a good book with you, and hope you may benefit from it. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, but please note that this is at no extra cost to you and doesn’t influence any of my recommendations.

IBS and Linseeds

If you have IBS, you may’ve heard linseeds can be useful!

Free downloadable guide inside!

But which linseeds? … golden linseeds, brown linseeds, ground or whole? There’s so many to pick from, but which is best and what is the difference between linseeds and flax?

Golden whole linseeds

Flaxseed is just another name for linseed. There’s lots of different types of linseeds, but currently there doesn’t appear to be any robust scientific evidence to suggest whole is better than ground (or vice versa), or even golden is better/worse than brown linseeds.

10 ways with linseeds

There’s more to these little seeds than meets the eye!

  • High in fibre
  • Helpful for managing blood cholesterol levels
  • Can help blood sugar control
  • For digestive health
  • Helpful for managing symptoms of wind, bloating and constipation
  • Source of essential omega-3 fats (ALA – alpha-linoleic acid)
    • “Essential” because we cannot make it and therefore we need to get this from our diet
    • Has anti-inflammatory properties
    • Helpful for heart and brain health
  • Good source of omega-3 for vegetarian/vegan diets

Ground linseeds

NICE (2008 updated 2018) recommend for people that suffer with wind and bloating to have linseeds (up to 1 tablespoon per day) and oat-based cereal or porridge. Linseeds are also very useful for helping with constipation, although results can be slow (- up to 6 months) and it’s important to have some fluids when you have linseeds (McKenzie et al., 2016).

Fibre

Linseeds provide ~3g fibre per tablespoon (~12g) (Flax Council of Canada, 2018). In food labelling terms, a food can be classed as a “source of fibre” when it contains at least 3g fibre per 100g of the food, or a “high fibre” food when it has at least 6g per 100g. Therefore these little seeds are jam-packed with fibre!

Check out my free infographic for a bit more info on their nutritional value and some food ideas!

10 ways with linseeds
Click the image and download your free guide!

It’s recommended that adults (over 16yrs old) should have 30g dietary fibre per day (SACN, 2015). However only 9% of 19-64yr olds and 7% of over 65yr olds achieve this (PHE, 2018). Women typically consume less fibre than men (~17g Vs ~21g), and over 65yr olds eat less than 20g per day (PHE, 2018).

It is common for older people to suffer with constipation (Age UK, 2017; SACN, 2015) due to, among other reasons inadequate fluid intake and typically struggle to eat enough fibre. They may also have a small appetite, so adding these little seeds to their regular food or made into smoothies would be beneficial.

brown linseeds

Summary

  1. Can be helpful for symptoms of wind, bloating and constipation
  2. Try whole, ground, golden or brown
  3. Start with 1 teaspoon (~4g) linseeds per day and gradually increase as required
  4. Take maximum of 2 tablespoons (~24g) per day
  5. Response may be gradual and full benefit may take up to 6 months
  6. Ensure you have at least 150mL (~1/4 pint) fluid per tablespoon of linseeds (to allow the fibre to do its job!)
  7. These are an easy way to up your fibre intake

You don’t have to get fleeced by going to special health food shops – linseeds are readily available in supermarkets or try Amazon

  • ~£1 for 250g from Tesco’s,
  • £1.79 for 250g from Aldi,
  • 90p for 100g from Sainsbury’s,
  • £2.25 for 500g from Waitrose)
  • ~£3.00-6.00 for 500g from Holland & Barrett
  • From 85p from Amazon. I particularly like Amazon to get my whole linseeds or ground linseeds, because it works out cheaper
    (prices correct at time of writing)

Brown linseeds

It’s not just people with IBS that could benefit from a daily intake of linseeds, given the above noted points. So go ahead, give them a try!

10 ways with linseeds

Let me know how you get on with linseeds, or if you have any queries or suggestions I’d be glad to hear from you! Please drop me a comment below.

Don’t forget to download your free guide on how to use linseeds!

P.S. Need some help managing your IBS – then why not check this out too and get your FREE Survival Guide

References
Flax Council of Canada. (2018). Available from: flaxcouncil.ca/resources/nutrition/general-nutrition-information/nutrition-profile/
KCL. (2018). King’s and IBS. Available from: www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/Schools/life-course-sciences/news-events/newsrecords/2018/Kings-and-IBS.aspx
McKenzie et al. (2016). British Dietetic Association systematic review and evidence-based guidelines for the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults.
​NICE. (2008 updated 2018). Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management. CG61.
PHE. (2018). National diet and nutrition survey. Available from:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/699241/NDNS_results_years_7_and_8.pdf
SACN. (2015). Carbohydrates and health. Available from: assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445503/SACN_Carbohydrates_and_Health.pdf

All comments are my own opinion.

​* This blog contains Amazon affiliate links to products that I routinely use – ever since being pregnant and used to struggle with constipation. I found these really useful, plus they add extra texture and nutrition to my food, and I didn’t want to take any over-the-counter or prescription laxatives, so these were great for me. Plus, these are much cheaper than a laxative prescription! I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but at no extra cost to you. This is to help support my blog and does not have any impact on my recommendations to you. I share these links with you because I have benefited from these and you could benefit too.

10 Ways with Linseeds

If you have IBS, you have probably heard of linseeds! But may be you’re unsure how to eat them. Get your free download… 

10 ways with linseeds

Also, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet (avoiding eggs), you can use linseed as an egg replacer!!

1 Tbsp milled linseed + 3 Tbsp water = 1 egg! (-leave to soak & go gelatinous!)

TIP: You may want to use golden linseeds as these won’t look as noticeable in your cooked product. You may also want to use whole, then grind them yourself in a pestle & mortar/blender.

Linseeds are great for your bowels, but also full of fibre and essential fats. If you buy them from health food shops or the supermarket, they can be expensive, plus supermarkets don’t tend to sell big enough bags, well not for me anyway. So I use Amazon, as they are cheaper, you can get whatever type and pack size you want. So have a try and see how you get on – don’t forget to let me know how you get on and if you have any lush recipes you’d like to share!

 

 

If you click on certain links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, but this is at no extra cost to you and doesn’t influence my recommendation to you. The main purpose of this is for me to share products that I like and find beneficial and genuinely think you will too, but also to generate a small revenue in order to contribute to running costs of this site.

IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Overview

What is IBS?

IBS is a “functional gut disorder”, often with debilitating symptoms of abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and a change in bowel habit. You can more than likely

Symptoms can be quite generic and unfortunately there are no specific diagnostic tests. Therefore, it can be difficult to diagnose. Other potential diagnoses and “red flag” symptoms need to be ruled out first, so you can end up feeling like the doctor has just dumped this diagnosis on you, because they don’t know what else it is.

To rule out these other diagnoses, means undergoing numerous tests and investigations. This can be embarrassing talking about your bowels and being poked and prodded. However, it’s better to have this done and rule out things like cancer (- or better to find out sooner rather than later, and to get it treated sooner).

first line advice and information about IBS

 

Treatment options for IBS

Treatment can involve:

  1. Medications, such as laxatives or antidiarrhoeal can be prescribed
  2. Diet and lifestyle advice (see above infographic)
  3. Psychological support, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)

Speak with your Doctor to discuss your options

 

Diet

Many people restrict their diet in an attempt to improve their symptoms – you may even be one of these people. But doing this can lead to nutritional inadequacy or even deficiencies. It can be difficult to know exactly what is causing the issue, and diet is often blamed.

I’ve come across quite a few people that have tried to follow a “low FODMAP” (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides Di-saccharides Mono-saccharides And Polyols) diet – a diet they’ve found on the internet.

People have even told me their doctor told them to go “Google it”. But this is no good and not very helpful, especially when you’re at the end of your tether and desperate for some help and support. Please don’t try doing this diet yourself, especially as there is a lot of misinformation out there and a Registered Dietitian can ensure your diet is nutritionally adequate.

 

Seek dietary advice from a Registered Dietitian

 

Also, I’ve worked with people who’ve told me that they’ve been to see a therapist or “Nutritionist”, who performed numerous tests on them, such as using electrodes (to test the electromagnetic conductivity) to identify the trigger food(s), and consequently restrict their diet. Sometimes they have also been prescribed various and numerous supplements and remedies.

If you are suffering with any gastrointestinal symptoms, please do seek medical advice.

If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, a Registered Dietitian can help you too. Please note, they will ask you some awkward questions about your bowel habits – this is because we need to get as much detail as possible, to try to identify what the issue is, in order to provide the most appropriate and tailored advice.

Please feel free to contact me for more help and advice.

You can also check out more info from NHS Choices and IBS Network

 

What’s your experiences of IBS and how do you currently manage your symptoms? … or are you currently struggling with them? 

NutriGeek’s New Sole Focus: IBS

Putting you in the picture

I feel like I should probably explain the changes that NutriGeek is undergoing to help you understand. I love being a clinical Dietitian (- especially when working with people with IBS), but I also love sports and exercise nutrition. I tried having NutriGeek to “house” all this, but I felt it was probably too confusing for you all.

What’s going on then?

So … I have revamped my NutriGeek website (which has been super exciting for me!), and from now on I will solely focus on IBS. I really want to devote NutriGeek to helping you with your IBS. Here’s some survival tips I’ve created for you to get you going…

IBS survival tips

I know there are so many people out there that suffer with it and how upsetting, frustrating, annoying and isolating it can be … and this isn’t helped when your GP doesn’t seem to be listening to you. Sometimes even family and friends can seem like they’re not listening either, so that can feel really difficult too, plus strain relationships.

It’s horrible being fobbed off and not listened to, so I want to be there for you. I’m hear to listen to you and I will do my best to help you out. I’d really love to hear from you and don’t they say “a problem shared is a problem halved”.

If you’d like to share your experiences, it would be great if you could complete these questions

IBS and NutriGeek

It’s only early days, but I would love to be able to provide you with:

  • Useful information and advice about IBS itself, nutrition and diet tips, topical issues, insights, resources and recipes
  • Support – drop me a line; ask me questions; have a one-to-one session or group session with me; tell me how best I can support you, and if I can’t help you myself, then I will point you in the right direction

IBS survival tips

So where’s the sports nutrition stuff gone?

Well, in case you were interested (or maybe just curious!), I’ve moved my sports nutrition stuff over to www.combatnutrition.co.uk. Feel free to check that out too, especially if you’re into your exercise and looking for some tips and information.

What now?

I’ll focus NutriGeek on helping you with your IBS; to give you helpful ideas, support, advice, information, and answer your questions. (But as you will see, there are still information on other areas, such as alcohol, super foods in older blog posts).

If you’d like to share some of your experiences and make any comments, please post a comment or drop me a message – I’d really love to hear from you.

There’s a list of other support here (- you’ll need to scroll down to find it, by the way)

Could Your Daily Coffee Be Causing Your IBS Symptoms?

Grab a Nice Brew

We all like a good brew and coffee shops are so popular – they’re a place to grab a cuppa tea or cappuccino or whatever and a slice of cake, to get out of the rain or have a break … and if you’re like me, you sneak in to use their toilets too!

But is this brew causing you some dramas? Could your daily brew be making your symptoms worse?

Could caffeine be the culprit?

Caffeine and IBS

Let’s check this out…

How Much Caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and cause symptoms of irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances (Temple et al., 2017). Within the sporting world it is known to help improve performance (Maughan et al., 2018; Pickering & Kiely, 2018).

It’s thought about 4 cups coffee (~400mg caffeine) is safe for healthy (non-pregnant) adults (NHS, 2017), but…

It’s not just coffee that contains caffeine – dark and plain chocolate are on the list too! Have a little look at this:

Average caffeine contents of some drinks and foods

Check your medications for caffeine

 

(Just as a point, pregnant women should avoid exceeding 200mg caffeine (that’s about 2 mugs of tea or instant coffee), as it can increase risk of low birth weights or miscarriage).

 

But what about if you suffer with IBS?

Well, we know that caffeine can increase “colonic motor activity” (- a “science-y” way of saying stimulating your bowels) in healthy people (without any gut issues) (Rao et al., 1998).

The most recent British Dietetic Association’s evidence-based guidelines (McKenzie et al., 2016) actually show there is currently (i.e. in 2016 when the report was written), limited scientific evidence to make a strong recommendation for people suffering with IBS.

However, current guidelines recommend a maximum of 3 cups (or 2 mugs) of caffeinated drinks per day (BDA, 2016; NICE, 2017), so that’s about 200mg of caffeine.

 

Maximum of ~2 mugs coffee per day

You could try limiting your intake to this recommendation to see if it helps. Although, you may find it more conclusive if you totally exclude it (whilst keeping everything else the same – that way it’ll be easier to know if it was the caffeine or not). It’d be useful and makes things easier if you record your dietary intake and symptoms, so you can track progress.

Is It Commonly Caffeine?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but from my own experience of working with people suffering with IBS, I have come across quite a lot of people where caffeine has been contributing to, or seem to be solely causing their symptoms.

For example, I remember working with one particular gentleman, who’s main symptom was diarrhoea. This made him worn out and miserable. Having explored his diet, then trialling my dietary recommendations, his symptoms improved by gradually reducing and then swapping his daily caffeinated coffee (of x 5 cups) to decaf and herbal/fruit teas. Afterwards, he told me how much happier he felt and now in control of his symptoms!

For other people, I have found they can tolerate a couple of cups a day, but no more than that, and for others, it’s caffeine along with other things like garlic and stress levels.

 

We’re all different, so our diets need to reflect that!

Take-home Messages

  1. Caffeine can be found in tea, coffee, energy drinks, chocolate … and some painkillers
  2. If you think caffeine is a drama for you, you could give caffeine avoidance a bash (- but don’t make any other changes though, so you know if it was the caffeinated drink/food) whilst recording your diet and symptoms – you’ve nothing to lose but potentially much to gain, yayyy!
  3. If you’re used to drinking several brews or other caffeinated drinks/foods, then I’d recommend gradually reducing your intake to avoid potentially getting rotten headaches, but it’s up to you – you may just want to get stuck in!
  4. Avoid caffeine whilst pregnant (or at least below the recommendations (200mg/~2 mugs tea/instant coffee a day))

 

If you have any comments or questions about caffeine, you can drop me a message. If you sign up to my monthly emails, I can give you some more tips and insights into IBS and diet.

 

Other Sources of Support

  • IBS Network– Charity that provides information and support
  • Guts UK– Charity to raise awareness about gut conditions and provide information
  • NHS 10 Stress Busters– Some information to help manage stress – have a look around on the website, as they also provide further information on mental health and accessing services
  • Moodjuice– Website full of free self-help resources
  • Headspace– Website (beautiful and cute, by the way!) and App for meditation (- please note you get some free sessions, but then have to pay from £5.99)

 

References and Further Reading

  • https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/pregnancy/should-i-limit-caffeine-during-pregnancy/
  • https://scialert.net/fulltextmobile/?doi=jas.2006.831.834
  • Capili et al. (2016). Addressing the role of food in irritable bowel syndrome symptom management. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(5), 324-329.
  • Cozma-Petruţ et al. (2017). Diet in irritable bowel syndrome: What to recommend, not what to forbid to patients! World Journal of Gastroenterology, 23(21), 3771.
  • Maughanet al. (2018). IOC consensus statement: Dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52, 439-455.
  • McKenzie et al. (2016). British Dietetic Association systematic review and evidence‐based practice guidelines for the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults (2016 update).
  • NHS (2017). Four cups of coffee “not bad for health” suggests review.
  • Rao et al. (1998). Is coffee a colonic stimulant?. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 10(2), 113-118.
  • Singh et al. (2018). The role of diet in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review. Gastroenterology Clinics, 47(1), 107-137.
  • Pickering, C., & Kiely, J. (2018). What should we do about habitual caffeine use in athletes? Sports Medicine, 1-10.
  • The Sleep Council
  • Temple et al. (2017). The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review. Frontiers in Psychiatry8, 80. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080
  • BDA IBS and Diet Factsheet
  • NICE CG 61 Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Adults: Diagnosis and Management

 

 

Allergy & Intolerances

What is the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?

Allergy – an adverse reaction involving the immune system
Intolerance – does not involve the immune system

Allergy/intolerance testing:

There are a variety of tests to help diagnose, but not all are reliable and scientifically sound. Below are some examples:

  • Electrodermal/vagus test
    • Tests the electromagnetic conductivity of the body
    • No evidence base to use this in a diagnosis
  • Kinesiology
    • Measures muscle strength before and after the suspect food
    • No evidence base to support the use in diagnosing an allergy or intolerance
  • Pulse test
    • Pulse is taken before and after the food exposure, with an increase in pulse would indicate a food intolerance
    • No evidence to support its use
  • Leucocytotoxic test
    • White blood cells are mixed with the suspect food, and the size and shape are assessed
    • There is no evidence to support its use
  • Hair analysis
    • Sample of hair tested with the food
    • Can be used in testing for recreational drugs, but there is no proven use in diagnosing an allergy
  • Skin prick test
    • The skin is pricked with a tiny amount of the allergen. If a small lump appears, then in conjunction with a detailed clinical history a diagnosis can be made
    • The test is performed by a trained staff and is quick and easy
  • Blood tests
    • A specific IgE (immunoglobulin E, an antibody associated with allergic response) test to measure the amount of antibodies in the blood to the suspect food
    • A diagnosis of an IgE medicated allergy can be made in conjunction with a detailed clinical history

Food labels:

Food labels must clearly identify any of the 14 allergens (listed below), and highlight them in the ingredients list. Please see Food Labels section for more information.

  1. Celery
  2. Cereals containing gluten – including wheat, rye, barley and oats
  3. Crustaceans – including prawns, crab and lobster
  4. Eggs
  5. Fish
  6. Lupin
  7. Milk
  8. Mustard
  9. Molluscs – including squid, mussels, cockles, whelks and snails
  10. Nuts
  11. Peanuts
  12. Sesame seeds
  13. Soya beans
  14. Sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kilogram or per litre

6 Top tips for Coping with an Allergy​ or Intolerance

  1. Understand your allergy/intolerance – what can and can’t you have
  2. Understand food labels
  3. Look for fortified alternatives (e.g. lactose-free milk fortified with vitamins and minerals)
  4. Plan your meals and snacks in advance
  5. If eating out, speak to the restaurant in advance to discuss what you have to avoid and ensure they can facilitate this
  6. Remember to take your emergency medication with you and ensure your family/friends know what to do in an emergency

Always speak to your Dietitian if you have any queries about your diet.

 

Allergy UK is a national charity that supports people affected by allergy