The symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. In order to fight those symptoms, you should pay attention to your diet and avoid foods containing the so-called FODMAPs.

We spoke about this with Professor Silvio Danese, Supervisor of the Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Humanitas, in an interview for Tv2000’s program “My doctor”.

“The irritable bowel is a functional disease. In fact, it is caused by an alteration in the functionality of colon and small intestine, not by an organic problem. Symptoms vary a lot from patient to patient. There may be abdominal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating, as well as more general issues such as fatigue, exhaustion and headache.

A simple visit with a specialist is enough to get an irritable bowel diagnosis. During the visit, the doctor will listen to the patient and perform an exam. Further exams may be required to exclude other diseases”, Prof. Danese says.

Good food and bad food

“Speaking about food, there is no fixed rule. Each patient has their own individual tolerance to different foods. Just recently, researchers have identified the so-called FODMAPs, a group of foods containing some sugars our intestine can’t easily digest. Such foods are milk and dairy products (due to the presence of lactose), pasta, cookies, legumes, rye and wheat.

On the contrary, you may eat without problems grapes, carrots, citrus fruit, tomatoes, lettuce and ripened cheese.

However, you should try to understand which foods worsen symptoms in your own body and which ones help you. Each one of us has a different tolerance threshold, that has to be respected in our everyday life”, the professor points out.

A healthy intestine

“In general, you should drink a lot of water (almost two liters per day), exercise regularly, walk at least half an hour per day. These activities help your intestinal motility. Fibers help it too.

Another important factor is vitamin D, with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Patients with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory colitis. In order to get the right amount of vitamin D, you just need to go in the sun for 20 minutes a day and eat foods that contain it, such as fish, milk and eggs”, Prof. Danese says.