Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that affects about 10% of the population, mostly women.

It manifests itself with symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, swelling and abdominal pain and cramps. Dr. Beatrice Salvioli, a gastroenterologist at Humanitas, a guest in the studio Cuore and Denari on Rai1, spoke about this topic.


What are the causes of irritable bowel syndrome?

There are many causes, psychosocial factors certainly play a role: “Our intestine is the second brain and many people tend to discharge their emotional tensions on the stomach and intestine. These become the target organ of somatization of anxious states or depression.

The advice for doctors is to reassure their patients, listening to them and helping them understand the type of disorder they have, not passing them through neurotics because research shows that in these people there are several alterations in the intestinal bacterial flora and neurotransmitters that arrive to the brain, and all this contributes to the presence of symptoms. The advice to patients is not to be frightened, not to feel misunderstood and to listen deeply to their bodies, trying to improve their quality of life, carving out some time for themselves, and what makes them feel good and balanced,” recommends the doctor.

The other factors include individual predisposition, changes in the motility of the digestive tract, intolerances and allergies, chronic use of antibiotic drugs and stress.


Foods to avoid

If you have an irritable bowel, avoid foods that produce a lot of fermentation, such as those that contain high amounts of fructose (cherries, mango, peaches, canned fruit, dried fruit, fruit juices); those containing high amounts of fruit (artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, leeks, lentils); foods high in galactans (chickpeas, etc.)


How do you diagnose the condition and intervene?

The diagnosis is clinical and also involves the exclusion of other diseases that present similar symptoms, by means of specific examinations. It should be noted that the real irritable bowel syndrome never turns into a malignant disease.

“The treatment is partially pharmacological, as natural remedies such as phytotherapy and complementary medicine such as acupuncture can be of great help. A fundamental role is also played by lifestyle, which includes not only proper nutrition, but also the containment and decompression of stress through physical activity, yoga or meditation. Without changing the way we live and deal with everyday life, drugs have limited benefits,” says Dr. Salvioli.