Homeopathy Cheshire

(MSc, BSc Hons, PGCE, RSHom, ANutr)

Tel: 01244 312727


Food Intolerance & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

More than 4 million people in the UK are thought to suffer from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with characteristic symptoms of abdominal pain and discomfort and in many cases changes in bowel habits (NICE, 2008).


Many research studies suggest that IBS symptoms in around 25% of patients, may be caused or exacerbated by one or more dietary components (American Dietetic Association, 2009).

The conventional treatment for many people suffering with IBS symptoms is anti-spasmodic medication which may relieve the symptoms in some people, but will not treat the underlying cause of symptoms if a food intolerance is the culprit. With one large research study showing more that 60% of IBS sufferers report worsening symptoms after a meal, with some (28%) reporting symptoms showing just 15 minutes after they had eaten and 93% reporting symptoms within 3 hours of eating, it is very likely there is a dietary and/or food intolerance link.

The American Dietetic Association states that a modified exclusion diet and stepwise reintroduction of certain foods or elimination of certain groups of foods could be useful. However, this can take months and is difficult if your diet is varied or if you eat some processed foods containing sweeteners, preservatives or colourings which could also potentially aggravate or cause IBS symptoms. It could also lead to people consuming nutritionally inadequate diets if they limit large food groups for prolonged period of times which can have further detrimental effects on health. Intolerance testing could help identify certain foods which you may be sensitive too and which are aggravating your bowel, and thus short-term supervised elimination can then be carried out to see if symptom improvement occurs.

It was widely believed that fibre deficiency contributed to many cases of IBS symptoms, however with studies showing that 55% of people thought their IBS symptoms worsened after eating cereals and other high fibre foods, this belief that increased fibre could help symptoms is slowly waning. Studies reviewing the use of fibre in IBS patients concluded that fibre either has no efficacy for treatment of IBS or has possible limited benefits for patients who have IBS with constipation.