Nutrition for IBS: What Students in Nutrition and Health Programs Need to Know

Nutritionist training in Ontario

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most commonly diagnosed digestive disorders in the United States and Canada, affecting between 7% and 10% of the population. While symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person, they often include cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. It can also lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in trips to the doctor.

Thankfully, proper nutrition can help to improve some symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain. Here are some of the ways proper nutrition can help those with IBS.

Diets That Eliminate Fruits like Peaches and Watermelon Can Improve IBS Symptoms

Specific fruits with a high about of FODMAPs can give clients with IBS more gas, bloating, and diarrhea. FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate that is difficult for the intestines to digest. That’s why graduates of nutrition and health programs sometimes encourage their clients to eliminate some fruits, such as watermelon, peaches, pears, mangoes, and apples. Reducing intake of these foods, or eliminating them from a diet altogether, can help to alleviate some IBS symptoms.

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Reducing intake of certain fruits can help to improve symptoms

Grads with Nutritionist Certificates Should Advise Their Clients to Cut Caffeine

Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, fizzy drinks, and certain teas can trigger diarrhea, and even constipation in client with IBS. Firstly, caffeine acts as a diuretic, which causes the excretion of fluid. This can lead to dehydration and might make passing stool more difficult.

In addition, coffee—even when decaffeinated—can also act like a laxative by over stimulating the GI tract. It achieves this effect by stimulating the rectosigmoid motor activity of the intestines, leading to looser stools and diarrhea.

Depending On Their Symptoms, Clients With IBS Can Benefit From Low or High Fiber Diets

Students pursuing a nutritionist certificate may know that a diet requires experimentation and fine tuning to ensure its effectiveness. For clients with IBS, this can be especially important. IBS varies from client to client. This means that clients can differ both in the kind of symptoms they experience and their severity.

For instance, a high fiber diet can help an IBS client with chronic constipation pass stool more easily; some nutritionists recommend eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. However, for clients suffering from severe diarrhea, a high fiber diet can worsen symptoms. In other circumstances, the root of a client’s IBS can lay in their intolerance to gluten, requiring a complete modification of their overall diet.

nutritionist certificate

Nutritionists need to assess each client’s individual needs to create the right diet

There Can Be Several Underlying Factors Contributing to IBS

While nutrition is important to relieving the effects of IBS, other underlying conditions can cause IBS or make it worse. Stress and anxiety have been associated with IBS, both as resulting and contributing factors. If during your career you think your client might need the help of other professionals such as a gastroenterologist or a therapist, it can be a good idea to recommend they seek out additional expertise.

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