Do you suffer from bloating and gut problems daily mail online gas laws worksheet answers chemistry

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‘People with IBS tend to have a sensitive gut, and sensitivity can vary according to the pressure they are under,’ says Dr Read. ‘The symptoms can make them anxious, which makes things worse — the more anxious they become, the more this increases sensitivity of the gut.’

The idea that symptoms are linked to stress upsets some patients, who feel it suggests their condition is all in the mind. ‘We have to be careful not to imply IBS is psychosomatic,’ says Peter Whorwell, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Manchester University. ‘The symptoms are very real and most definitely physical.’

But most doctors agree the brain-gut link cannot be underestimated. ‘There is a significant link between the brain and gut impulses,’ says Dr Julian Stern, a consultant psychiatrist at St Mark’s Hospital, London. ‘Some patients have gut problems that are not caused by a gut illness, but are a physical manifestation of anxiety.’

This takes over the enteric nervous system, our so-called ‘gut brain’, embedded in the gut lining. This means anxiety passes straight to the gut, manifesting as spasms. Hypnotherapy allows control of the gut brain to pass back to the parasympathetic nervous system — the ‘rest and digest’ system — reducing spasms.

‘Hypnosis has been proven to work physiologically, reducing acid secretion, hypersensitivity and contractions in the gut,’ says Professor Whorwell. With his own ‘gut-focused’ technique, the patient is encouraged to visualise their gut as a river flowing freely, and use calming techniques, such as relaxing their diaphragm.

Identifying your trigger foods can be tricky, as meals are so often a mixture of different things — and IBS symptoms can take hours to emerge. This means that IBS sufferers are often left confused — and desperate for help. The answer, it seems, has arrived in the form of a diet devised by scientists at Monash University in Melbourne.

And while some people can sail through life eating all the high FODMAP foods they like without so much as a burp, other people’s digestive systems are more sensitive. In these susceptible types, it could take just one, or a few, or all of these compounds to trigger inflammation and the distress of IBS.

In a landmark study published two years ago, the Australian researchers asked patients with IBS to remove FODMAPs from their diet — and 74 per cent reported that their symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, gas, excessive burping, diarrhoea and constipation, had improved dramatically.

The UK researchers say the diet is effective for three out of four IBS sufferers. In their study, 76 per cent said they were ‘satisfied’ with the improvements to their symptoms, compared with just 54 per cent of those who stuck to conventional NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) approved IBS dietary advice.

If you have been formally diagnosed with IBS, dietitians trained in low FODMAPs recommend trying a strict version of the diet for six to eight weeks, then slowly reintroducing certain foods, one at a time every four days, to see if they are a potential trigger or safe for you to enjoy long-term.

Ideally, you would then stick to a diet that excludes the most likely trigger foods, in conjunction with relaxation techniques, including hypnotherapy, because combining low FODMAPs and relaxation has been shown to work better than drug treatments to ease the symptoms and distress of IBS.

Experts believe the best way to use probiotics is to choose the right strain of bacteria for your particular health problem. And choose products that contain ‘live’ bacteria, suggests Professor Ingvar Bjarnason, a gasteroenterologist at King’s College Hospital, London.

Another problem is that for a probiotic to work, the bacteria need to reach the large intestine alive, which means running the gauntlet of destructive stomach acid, says Professor Bjarnason. But, as a study published last week revealed, some products don’t make it this far.

Researchers at University College London had put eight products through three tests to see if they survived the stomach’s harsh acidic environment and then flourished in the intestine. Just one, Symprove, which is a water-based barley drink, passed all the tests.

As well as Symprove (£21.95 for 500ml, symprove.com) you could try dissolvable powders such as VSL#3 (£14.95 for ten sachets, vsl3.co.uk). And take them on an empty stomach, which means they pass through the system quickly. Having food in the stomach slows things down.

‘It might not sound much, but it’s about the same as antibiotics,’ says Dr Haycock, consultant gastroenterologist at the London Clinic and St Mark’s Hospital. Try Optibac For Travelling Abroad (£10.20 for 20 capsules, optibacprobiotics.co.uk).

CONSTIPATION/DIARRHOEA: Researchers found Symprove reduced symptoms in patients who hadn’t responded to other treatments. It is being tested for diverticulitis (where the lining of the intestine becomes inflamed and painful). Symprove (£21.95 for 500ml, symprove.com).

BACTERIA BOOSTER: After a course of antibiotics, which can upset gut balance, consider products that contain a variety of bacteria (Optibac For Everyday has six strains, £10.99 for 60, optibacprobiotics.co.uk). Most of the yoghurts and supermarket drinks contain only one strain.