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IBS myths and misinformation are frustratingly prevalent on the internet these days, and it can often be hard to separate fact from fiction.
So, today I’m busting six common myths about irritable bowel syndrome.
Are you ready? Let’s do it!
MYTH #1: IBS is caused by eating too much gluten
FACT: There is no good scientific evidence that the protein gluten causes or triggers IBS. If you notice an increase in symptoms after eating wheat products you may be sensitive to fructans (a FODMAP).
Unnecessarily restricting gluten from your diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
MYTH #2: A probiotic will fix your IBS
FACT: Probiotics *may* lead to a modest reduction in IBS symptoms in some people, but they are not a cure. Head back over here on Friday when I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of probiotics for IBS in more detail.
MYTH #3: IBS is caused by stress
FACT: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate IBS but it’s definitely not ‘all in your head’. Although the gut and the brain do communicate with one another, and an unhappy tummy can contribute to stress (and visa versa), IBS is not psychosomatic.
MYTH #4: IBS is a BS diagnosis
FACT: This one always makes me laugh. IBS is a clinically recognised condition. It’s not a ‘fob-off’, and it shouldn’t be a diagnosis of exclusion (although, unfortunately, in some places it is still treated this way). People need to stop making IBS sufferers doubt their diagnosis. Functional disorders may not have any measurable biomarkers, but this doesn’t mean they don’t exist; it just means their causes are unknown (at the moment).
MYTH #5: IBS is caused by an unhealthy diet
FACT: We don’t know exactly what causes IBS, but an unhealthy diet has not been implicated in the list of potential causes. That said, the optimal diet for gut health (and whole body health!) is one that is abundant in a diverse range of fibre – i.e. plant foods, think: whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds – this is true whether you have IBS or not!
MYTH #6: IBS can lead to colon cancer
FACT: Often IBS is confused with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). They are not the same thing, and having IBS does not increase your risk of developing colon cancer (or any other organic disease).
So there you have it – six IBS myths well and truly busted!