How diet can improve your Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Not just diet but much more is covered in this infographic looking at Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

This include signs, symptoms , causes and treatments of Irritable Bowel Syndrome as well.

You can see our previous blogs on IBS here.

Celiac Awareness Month – Frequently Asked Questions with Coeliac sufferer Dr Chris Steele

TV doctor and coeliac sufferer Chris Steele is urging people to take notice of their symptoms if they suffer from digestive issues or other potential symptoms of coeliac disease, with experts believing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK could unknowingly be suffering from Coeliac disease.

Celiac Awareness
Celiac Awareness

This week is Coeliac UK Awareness Week and, according to Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease, around 1 in 100 people in the UK are estimated to suffer from the condition. However under-diagnosis is a big problem with an estimated 500,000 people in the UK suffering from the condition without knowing. It takes on average 13 years from the onset of symptoms for people to achieve a diagnosis. One in four people diagnosed with coeliac disease were previously treated for IBS.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. There are a range of symptoms, including digestive problems such as abdominal bloating, pain, gas, regular bouts of diarrhoea and weight loss as well as ongoing fatigue, a severe blister like skin rash, and iron deficiency anaemia.

New research shows that almost 40% of people in the UK suffer from digestive issues, however, almost half have never been diagnosed.

Of those that have been diagnosed, more than a quarter weren’t diagnosed for over a year, and above 40% said they thought the symptoms would go away gradually. Surprisingly one in eight were misdiagnosed by a GP, while the same number were embarrassed to talk about their symptoms.

Although there has been more attention around gluten and gluten free products in recent years there seems to be confusion over what products actually contain gluten. A quarter of those surveyed did not know that bread contains gluten, a third were unaware it was in pasta and almost two thirds did not realise beer contains gluten, while one in eight believe oats should be avoided at all costs by people with coeliac disease. In fact, according to Coeliac UK, 95% of suffers are able to tolerate oats as long as they are labelled as gluten free. The British Society of Gastroenterology Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of coeliac disease advice that gluten-free oats can be included within the diet from diagnosis.

Once following a gluten free diet, it is important to ensure you are not missing out on key nutrients such as fibre. Following recent changes to guidance from the British Society of Gastroenterology, gluten free oats are now listed as a safe food for people with coeliac disease to consume from diagnosis, providing an important source of fibre in gluten free diets.

PatientTalk.Org were lucky enough to interview Dr Chris to give us a great introduction to Celiac.

Patient Talk: Its coeliac awareness week, and joining me now is Dr. Chris Steele to tell us a bit more about it. Dr Chris, first of all what is coeliac disease

Dr Chris: Well, Coeliac disease is a serious illness, it’s a life long illness, and basically it’s a reaction to the body from a protein called gluten, and gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. And these grains are found lots of food. Basically these- the gluten causes the immune system to overreact and your immune system starts attacking your own tissues, so in effect it’s what’s known as an autoimmune disease and not actually an allergy to gluten. The gluten has caused your immune system to attack your own tissues.

Patient Talk: And how common is it?

Dr .Chris: well it’s actually not uncommon, 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease. But what disturbs me is that they are half a million people out there walking around with coeliac disease and they don’t know they got, they’re not diagnosed.

Patient Talk: They are just experiencing the symptoms and not knowing what to do.

Dr Chris.: Yeah – They may just be experiencing mild symptoms, or symptoms that come and go. And the symptoms they can’t put down to any one thing in particular. Whereas the reactant to gluten – but it could be in all sorts of different foods that they are eating. You know- If you’re just reacting to eggs you will soon find out when you are reacting to many different food that contain gluten it’s very hard to find out, there is a specific trigger for your symptoms.

Patient Talk: And what are these primary symptoms?

Dr. Chris: Now the symptoms are very important because some patients will have and these symptoms may be diagnosed as having another conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, IBS. So the sort of classic common symptoms of coeliac disease – and I know ‘cause I have coeliac disease and I’ve been through this in the early days: Diarrhoea. That can come in episodes depending on when you have been exposed to the gluten, the urgency to go, when you got to go you got to go, otherwise there will be an accident. Abdominal bloating, abdominal discomfort and fatigue, weakness. They’re the classic ones, you can get other symptoms such as mouth ulcers, hair loss, aching joints and bones. The consequences of not being diagnosed. So, here you are walking round with IBS and you really have coeliac, and you’re not absorbing certain nutrients – such as – for myself it was vitamin D and calcium, so I got oscosteoporosis, as a consequence for having undiagnosed coeliac disease for many years. Anaemia an unknown cause can be caused by coeliac disease. One interesting area, it’s not a massive area, but women for having recurrent miscarriages or problems with infertility should be tested for coeliac disease.

Patient Talk: What are the tests for it?

Dr. Chris: Tests – simple, single blood test, that’s all there is to it. Now if you have these symptoms and are thinking “Oh that could be me” go and see you GP for a blood test and do not change your diet, if you stop eating gluten your tests could come back negative. So eat normally have your blood tests and if that’s positive then you’ll be referred to a specialist for a biopsy test, it’s only a thin flexible test going down and then again before that test do not change your diet, have normally food before those tests have been done.

Patient Talk: Are there other types of gluten intolerance?

Dr. Chris: Well it’s a complicated area and it’s probably best not to go into that because you can have non-coeliac gluten intolerance, you can be intolerant to other proteins similar to gluten….it’s quite a complicated area. For most patients they have coeliac disease caused by gluten, therefore avoid gluten in the future.

Patient Talk: Okay. So, let’s talk about treatments available, what are they and how efficient are they?

Dr. Chris: Well, there is no cure for coeliac disease and there is no treatment. That sounds very negative. However the answer is going on to a strict gluten free diet for life. It’s as simple as that, but following and gluten free diet is not simple. It’s very difficult and adjust to and you need to see a nutritious after you’ve seen your specialist to get advice on gluten free food. You will become an expert on reading labels to check whether there is gluten in there or not.
Patient Talk: Can you tell us a bit about this research what you’ve done, a bit about methodology and what the results were.

Dr. Chris: Well the latest research has come out has actually changed the way we manage coeliac disease. Usually the patient has been diagnosed as a coeliac sufferer and told: right avoid wheat, barley and rye and don’t eat oats. Oats don’t contain gluten. But don’t eat oats for 6 to 12 months and then slowly introduce them into your diet. Now the latest research has changed all of that completely, once you’re diagnosed you can’t eat wheat, barely or rye but you can eat oats there on then. But of course when you are buying oat products got to assure that they are gluten free
Patient Talk: Read the label.

Dr. Chris: Yes, read the label – they have got to be gluten free. Although oats don’t contain gluten they can be contaminated by gluten up by the farm, if oats are mixed with wheat barley, rye the farming process, in the mill where the grains are milled if the oats can be contaminated by wheat barely rye. And also in the bakery, that makes the cakes, pastries and the crackers, has to be a dedicated bakery where there are no grains where there are wheat barely or rye.

Patient Talk: Finally for this part what is the best advice which you have about coeliac disease?
Dr. Chris: You can’t treat coeliac disease, that you have to avoid gluten and also because you aren’t eating grains like wheat barley and rye, you’ve got to eat oats you’ve got to get those grains into your diet they have to be gluten free. The reason for that is oats are a good source of fibre, fibre reduces cholesterol fibre fills you for longer, provides slow release energy for longer, and also is very good for bowel health. So coeliacs’ have got to get oats into their diets. Now, I’ve looked at all of these products out there, and there is a company called Nairn’s, who are dedicated in producing only gluten free oat products: Biscuits, crackers etc… and they are probably one of the biggest suppliers out there on supermarket shelves, and I can say I use their products I’ve tested them all.

Keep your eyes peeled for our follow up article on advice for the just diagnosed!

Bowen Awareness Week – What is Bowen Therapy and have you used it?

Bowen therapy
Bowen therapy
Over the years I have look at a whole range of therapies for various different medical conditions which don’t quite fit into the conventional medical model.

This have ranged from the Paleo diet for multiple sclerosis to the McKenzie Method® for back pain.

According to a press release from Bowen Therapy Professional Association “the Bowen Technique is a drug-free, non-invasive, hands-on therapy which can be administered through light clothing. It has a remarkable record of success in helping clients with a wide range of conditions, including back, neck, shoulder and other acute and chronic muscular pain; stress-related conditions including depression; asthma, hay fever and other respiratory problems; sports injuries, IBS, migraine, fertility, hormonal imbalance and a host of other health issues. It is suitable for people of all ages, from tiny babies with colic to mature clients who suffer from arthritis. There are many personal testimonies of Bowen working when nothing else has helped.

In a typical Bowen treatment, the therapist, using only thumbs and fingers, makes small rolling movements over muscles, tendons and soft tissue at precise points on the body. This subtle but dynamic process releases stress at a very deep level, allowing the body to re-align, address imbalances in functions and chemical composition and , as far as possible, restore homeostasis (physiological equilibrium) within the body. ”

You can check out their web site here

Now as you can see this is quite a list of different conditions which could be treated with Bowen therapy. It is also pretty diverse as well.

So why am I writing this blog. I’m very interesting in hearing if any of my readers have used it and how you have found it. Also if you are a Bowen therapist it would be great to hear what you do and how you do it.

Please feel free to use the comments box below to add anything you think might be of interest to our readers.

Many thanks in advance.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month April 2015 – Have you had bad or good experiences being treated for your bowel symptoms by your healthcare provider?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month
As many of you may know I cut my teeth, jobwise, as a market researcher. You know one of those poor saps who tries to persuade you to take part in a survey when you would much rather be having your dinner.

In fact in my later years in the trade a worked in the field of healthcare. This meant that I have to persuade people with particular conditions, caregivers, doctors, nurses and a whole bunch of other people to give us their valuable time to tell us what they think about a whole raft of products and services.

Since then I’ve been working, among other things, on this blog. One of its objectives has been to support various healthcare awareness initiatives.

So today is one of the odd occasions where the strands of my working life come together.

How so – I hear you cry?

We as you can see from the headline of this blog this month is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month.

Well the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) has decided to run some research this month. The aim of the research is to answer the question:

“Have you had bad or good experiences being treated for your bowel symptoms by your health care provider?”

You can take part by clicking here Indeed we would encourage anybody who has IBS to participate. The more knowledge we have then the better the quality of care!

Couple of things.

Firstly we have no affiliation with IFFGD. We only discovered the survey when we were doing some research for this blog post and decided to make it the main feature.

If you would like some more information on the early signs and symptoms of IBS please check out our blog post here –

Oh – the IFFGD describe themselves as follows “IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization that addresses issues surrounding life with functional gastrointestinal (GI) and motility disorders. Founded in 1991, IFFGD helps improve care by enhancing awareness, educating, and supporting research into treatments and cures for GI disorders. “

Flatulence – Three natural ways of fighting flatulence.

Lots of us suffer from flatulence. (My grandmother called it “passing the wind” but that is another

 The Fighting Temeraire
The Fighting Temeraire

matter).  Indeed it has been the source of schoolboy jokes for generations and listening to my children I assume it always will be.

Flatulence can be caused by diet or by swallowing too much air.  It is also a symptom of a number of medical conditions; these include Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (see our previous blog on IBS, Celiac disease (have a look at our blog on Celiac we ran earlier this year, gastroenteritis and our old friend constipation.

So what can help get rid of flatulence without resorting to medications?

Well there seem to be three major options:-

a)      Yoghurt.  I’ve taken to making my own yoghurt over the last few months.  I was making some this morning which in fact gave me the inspiration for this blog.  Natural yoghurt with a live culture is considered a great way of preventing flatulence.  It does so by restoring the balance of microorganisms in the human gut.   Charcoal tablets.  I have to say these sound worse than flatulence and I’ve never tried them.  That being said they come highly recommended.  According to experts charcoal tablets absorb some of the toxins associated with flatulence.  You should consult a medical professional before you use charcoal tablets as they aren’t right for everyone.  It has also been suggested that they can help with weight loss.  And apparently we have been using charcoal for the last 3,500 years but I do wonder who thought of it first.

b)      Diet.  Some foods are associated with flatulence so it is worth reducing their presence in your diet.  They include sprouts, prunes, beans and lentils, cabbage, onions and apples.

That being said what works for you?  I’d be really keen to hear your suggestions.  Also can you suggest other flatulence causing foods to eliminate from our diets? Feel free to use the comments box below.

Thanks in advance.