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Effects of Nutrition on IBS Essay

Info: 1115 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 12th May 2021 in Nutrition

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common chronic disorder associated with the gastrointestinal system. It has been clinically reported since the start of the 19th and 20th century, yet there is still no definitive investigation and is instead clinically diagnosed (Chaudhary, N.A. and Truelove, S.C., 1962.). Diet has been identified by many as a significant contribution to the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Food intolerances, together with alterations of the Gastrointestinal system, are factors associated with the development of IBS (Whitehead et al. 406). However, there are many other factors associated with the onset of IBS. Sex, age, genetics and the socioeconomic status as well as many infectious and chronic diseases of an individual all play a role in the prevalence of IBS symptoms, and modern research has shown that these factors may directly cause IBS.

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Food sensitivity is usually a result of the low rate of absorbing sugars and acids in the diet, which can lead to symptoms such as gas, constipation and diarrhoea. These symptoms occur when the gut is overly sensitive to passing food and reacts to this by triggering spasms and expands/fills the area with either gas or fluid (Theibsnetwork.org, 2019). However, not all diets are bad as foods like dietary fibre supplements, water, low-fat meals, and high carbohydrate foods tend to relieve the IBS symptoms in some people. High fibre diet also helps to reduce constipation in this condition; therefore, medically, it is recommended for a person to consume between 20 to 35 grams of fibre daily. Lactose is another category of meals that should be avoided as it can affect an IBS patient, this is because dairy foods contain lactose, which is intolerable when suffering from IBS and magnifies the symptoms.

There have been gender-based differences in health issues since the beginning of medicine, this is partly due to roles constructed by society for each gender and how susceptible each individual is to a disease. In par to this, recent studies have shown women to report more IBS related symptoms than men (Quigley et al., 2006). The overall prevalence in women is 67% higher than men (Lovell and Ford, 2012), but this may due to psychosocial reasons rather than the actual presence of IBS in different genders. Dr Danielle Martin explained how men are more hesitant to book an appointment with a GP to discuss certain symptoms whereas women are likely to book appointments for not only themselves but also their partners and family (Martin, 2015). Dr Martin’s finding discusses the present-day problem of toxic masculinity and the importance in educating and maintaining a healthy relationship between a doctor and a patient. As a result, it can be suggested that rather than IBS being prevalent in women, it may be related to the unlikeliness of men to go discuss their symptoms with a local GP.

Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) has a negative impact on a patient's quality of life, and many people can suffer from both CRS and IBS without seeking the correct medical care due to lack of knowledge between the underlying relationship of the two common, chronic diseases (Darweesh, 2015). CRS is a persistent inflammation of the nasal and sinus mucosa and can be a result of an infection. A controlled case study in Egypt, which consisted of 133 medical students, where fifty were diagnosed with IBS and the 83 latter were medically diagnosed as healthy, were assessed of the history of chronic rhinosinusitis symptoms. The study concluded a possible relationship between IBS and CRS and further went to prove the risk of around 17 times more of a CRS patient to develop IBS in comparison to a patient without CRS (Darweesh, 2015).

On the other hand, the socioeconomic status has been widely linked to the poor diet of many individuals and alongside diet has a positive correlation and is seen as a possible risk factor or causation of IBS. A journal published in 2012 demonstrated how the lower a person's income, the poorer their diet, which results in poor health outcomes and a lower quality of life (Marmot et al., 2012). The lack of a more extensive diet is due to families with a low income who are not able to afford fresh food and are instead concerned about hunger rather than food which is rich in nutrients. A study based on 15000 adults in Australia showed a clear trend for the prevalence of IBS symptoms and decreasing social class (Bytzer et al., 2001). Individual's with low socioeconomic statuses were likely to report with a higher number of symptoms overall, the most prominent type being IBS-C (constipation as the prevalent symptom) (Bytzer et al., 2001). This study shows, how diet may not directly cause IBS but links and with an individual's socioeconomic status and can lead to an increased risk of IBS.

Family history is an important clinical assessment in determining whether or not a patient is at risk of an illness. It is still uncertain whether or not IBS is


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  • Chaudhary, N. and Truelove, S. (1962). THE IRRITABLE COLON SYNDROME: A Study of the Clinical Features, Predisposing Causes, and Prognosis in 130 Cases. QJM, pp.307-322.
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  • Martin, D. (2015). Are women really more likely to go to the doctor than men?. [online] Chatelaine. Available at: https://www.chatelaine.com/health/women-men-doctor-visits/ [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019].
  • Darweesh, M. (2015). PWE-240 Relationship between irritable bowel syndrome and chronic rhinosinusitis: a case control study. Gut, 64(Suppl 1), pp.A317.2-A318.


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