Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month written by Marissa Lau, MS Student at Pace University

Tuesday, April 12, 2022 2:11 PM | Anonymous

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic intestinal disorder that occurs in the large intestines.1–4 Symptoms of IBS include repeated abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, gas, and constipation or diarrhea, or both.1–3

Unfortunately, IBS is not fully understood yet, so there are no definitive tests that can be used to diagnose this condition.1,2 In general, IBS tends to be diagnosed in individuals who experience the mentioned signs and symptoms. From those signs and symptoms, a medical practitioner will diagnose you with one of three types of IBS based on your symptoms so they can determine the most effective treatment for you. The types of IBS include constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant, or mixed.1,2

IBS treatment usually focuses on relieving symptoms.1 Some people manage their symptoms by avoiding foods that trigger their symptoms, drinking large amounts of fluids, eating high-fiber foods, and adequate exercise and sleep. Diet changes are individualized for those with IBS.1 Many people eliminate high-gas foods and gluten from their diets, but others may eliminate dairy, fried foods, indigestible sugars, and beans.1,3 Although, the low FODMAP diet has been shown to help people manage their IBS symptoms.5,6 In more severe cases, people are treated with counseling or medication.1

            More recent evidence indicates that IBS may be a brain-gut disorder as studies have found that the gut microbiota produces gases that contain chemicals that affect mood, cognition, and the gut-brain communication.7 Further, IBS treatments including high-fiber foods and reduced stress are associated with both reduced IBS symptoms and healthier gut bacteria.1,8 This association suggests more research is necessary to fully understand the relationship between IBS and the gut microbiome.

April is IBS Awareness Month

Back in 1997, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders designated April as IBS Awareness Month.9 This designation was provided to increase public awareness about IBS, help others understand the different forms of IBS, and educate others about issues concerning diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life in individuals with IBS.9About 10-15% of people worldwide have IBS where 12% of people in the US have the condition.9 Risk factors of IBS are being a women, being less than age 50, a family history of IBS, a history of stressful or difficult life events, and having a severe infection in the digestive tract.4


'FODMAP' is an abbreviation for 'fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.'5 They are sugars that are not completely digested or absorbed in the intestines.5 Instead, gut bacteria ferment those sugars and as a result, produce a gas.5 In those with IBS, this gas can result in the mentioned IBS symptoms since individuals with IBS have highly sensitive guts.5 So, people with IBS are encouraged to ingest food items that contain low FODMAPs so their gut bacteria would produce less gases.

FODMAPs are found in vegetables, fruits, cereals, breads, legumes, nuts, and some sweets.5,6 Below are some examples of low FODMAP foods items:

     Vegetables: Bell pepper, bok choy, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, potato, spinach, zucchini5,6

     Fruits: Banana, cantaloupe, grapes, mandarin, orange, peach, pears, strawberries5,6

     Dairy & alternatives: Lactose-free, almond milk, brie/camembert cheese, feta cheese, hard cheeses5,6

     Protein sources: Eggs, firm tofu, plain cooked meats/poultry/seafood5,6

     Starches: Barley, corn flakes, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, wheat, gluten-free products5,6

     Nuts & seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts5,6

     Sweets: Dark chocolate, maples syrup, table sugar, molasses5,6

If you would like to learn more about Irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal disorders, then you can visit the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders website.


1.   Irritable bowel syndrome - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 3, 2022.

2.   Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed April 3, 2022.

3.   IBS: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Triggers, and Treatment. Healthline. Published September 29, 2014. Accessed April 3, 2022.

4.   Definition & Facts for Irritable Bowel Syndrome | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed April 3, 2022.

5.   About FODMAPs and IBS | Monash FODMAP - Monash Fodmap. Accessed April 7, 2022.

6.   Low FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome | IBS Treatment. Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio. Accessed April 7, 2022.

7.   Illuminating the Brain-Gut Axis: Insights from Japan’s Leading IBS Researcher. Published April 5, 2022. Accessed April 6, 2022.

8.   Boosting fiber intake for 2 weeks alters the microbiome. Published April 6, 2021. Accessed April 7, 2022.

9.   IBS Awareness Month - About IBS. Published March 8, 2021. Accessed April 3, 2022.

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