Apr 11, 2024 FAQ’s About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In recognition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Day, April 19, Michelle Pasia, MPH, RDN, a dietitian and coordinator of the Kogan Celiac Center, answers some commonly asked questions about IBS. Michelle is Monash FODMAP trained and has extensive experience in helping patients discover how to manage their IBS symptoms, in addition to guiding them on how to live symptom free and have adequate nutrients in their diets.

What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, often referred to as IBS, is something that affects 5-10% of the population. IBS can be unpredictable, and symptoms vary, but it includes diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort.

What should I do if I think I have IBS?
The first step is visiting a gastroenterologist to rule out any other cause of the symptoms. There tends to be a strong connection between the gut and brain, and stress can make symptoms worse, but it is often not the cause of IBS. Most times, certain foods can trigger the symptoms.

What can help if I have IBS?
Many people suffer for years before finding a treatment that works for them. The low FODMAP diet has been shown to be 76% effective in treating symptoms.

What foods are FODMAP’s?
FODMAP’s are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These foods are not absorbed very well in the small intestine leading to IBS symptoms.

These foods are also healthy foods, a few examples include fruits, vegetables, lactose, gluten, garlic and onion. Some people discover that one group of FODMAP’s is the culprit, and others find out it is how they are eating the FODMAP’s that is the cause of their symptoms.

Why should I seek out expert opinion?
The most important piece of the puzzle is to figure out which group of FODMAP’s is causing a person to have more symptoms. You don’t want to over restrict the diet and eliminate more than you need to. Many patients try to do this on their own which causes confusion and possibly unnecessarily restricting foods in their diet. 

There is a systematic way to remove these groups of foods and reintroduce them to determine tolerance. Ultimately, seeking out some help from a trained dietitian, like Michelle, is the best way to proceed after you have seen a gastroenterologist.

About The Kogan Celiac Center
As the only celiac center in New Jersey, The Kogan Celiac Center offers extensive education and support for adults and children. The Center is dedicated to providing expert services that include early assessment and treatment, education and support to improve the health and well-being of those who live with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, IBS, IBD and all digestive diseases. Education and support group programs are designed to help participants share and learn how to navigate the gluten-free world through conversation, recipes, tip exchanges and educational presentations. Gluten free is always a family issue so feel free to invite your family members. To learn more and for an appointment, please call 973-322-7007.