Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder; recent estimates suggest that it affects about 9.6% of adults in Asia.1 In Singapore, the number of individuals with symptoms typical of irritable bowel syndrome has risen considerably; a recently published study estimated that 20.9% of adults in the country suffer from IBS.2 The most common symptoms are diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and other complaints related to bowel movements and the GI tract.*

While the exact causes of this condition are not well understood, diet, stress and the bacteria living in the gut are potential factors that trigger IBS symptoms. Even internal factors such as how the brain and gut communicate, genetics and the level of certain hormones and other chemicals might be involved in IBS. Because both internal and external factors influence IBS, lifestyle and nutrition habits can affect the condition.

So while certain foods or diets can make IBS worse, specific foods may improve this condition. Discomfort can be reduced by keeping track and avoiding foods, or amounts of foods, that trigger IBS symptoms, as well as by consuming adequate dietary fibre.3 Medications may also be helpful, and new research on the benefits of probiotics shows that these may be effective in helping people with IBS as well.4 GI health is a primary area of focus at Nestlé Health Science, and we are committed to finding and providing nutritional therapies to patients suffering from GI conditions such as IBS.

  1. Sperber AD, Dumitrascu D, Fukudo S, et al. The global prevalence of IBS in adults remains elusive due to the heterogeneity of studies: a Rome Foundation working team literature review. Gut. 2016 Jan 27. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Siah KT, Wong RK, Chan YH, Ho KY, G. K. Prevalence of IBS in Singapore and its Association with Dietary, Lifestyle and Environmental Factors. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 March 8. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Eating, Diet, and Nutrition for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Available at: Accessed: 10 March 2016.
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Available at: Accessed: 10 March 2016.

*Listed symptoms are not all-inclusive; actual patient symptoms may vary.

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Irritable bowel syndrome is a type offunctional gastrointestinal disorder

While it feels unpleasant, the good news is no lasting harm is done and steps can be taken to alleviate symptoms.

Diagnosis is important


Tips description: Occasional symptoms like those experienced with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may occur in almost everyone, without being caused by IBS. Actual IBS may be diagnosed by a doctor when these symptoms have occurred at least three times per month for six months or more. In this case, it is important to see a physician, to be sure that IBS, and not another condition, is the problem.1 Accessed December 2014.

Certain foods can help with symptoms


Foods rich in dietary fiber, but with lower contents of certain sugars like fructose and lactose can often help with irritable bowel syndrome. Examples include low lactose dairy like cream cheese, hard cheeses and yogurt; fruits like bananas and grapes; vegetables like bell peppers and spinach; and many kinds of meat.1 Accessed December 2014.

Get rid of foods that cause problems


Certain foods are more likely to cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like symptoms or to make them worse. Examples include dairy products, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and caffeine, fatty foods and foods that cause gas, like beans. Asking a physician for advice on a diet that could help manage the condition better may help.