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Irritable bowel syndrome

Whenever I visit a hospital, I prefer not to talk about what I do, or the sector in which I work. Mostly because being human makes one want to make a conclusion, and at that very moment I am really just a patient. So I avoid it as much as I can. But when you visit the older consultants, they prod you until you give in. That’s what happened when I visited this entertaining gastroenterologist.

His diagnosis was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); the most commonly presented gastrointestinal disorder. Now when you are a nutritionist with a problem in the digestive system, it becomes a little confusing, particularly if you are one that follows nutrition rules religiously. But then IBS is caused by many non-clear things and the as the doc would tell me, it can also be inherited, and worsened by stress and an unhealthy lifestyle.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been sleeping almost dawn, been super lethargic, very bloated, a lot of abdominal and back pain and acidity. It was going to be fine until I could not walk straight up.  Interesting, the symptoms keep varying, and are specific to individuals. One day, its diarrhea, the next day you cannot pass stool. As such, even the diet varies and is specific to individuals.

It helps to minimize acidic foods (kales, citric fruits), foods that have a lot of gas (raw onions and cabbages, beans), and milk particularly if you are lactose intolerant. Same goes with fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee, oily foods, high sugar foods and wheat products (in certain cases). It also helps to have yoghurt since the probiotics are essential, but only for those that can tolerate it. In the event, you are having bouts of diarrhea and constipation, take lots of water, energy rich fluids (porridge, yoghurt, fruits, smoothies, vegetable soups), and fruits, else you will end up losing a lot of weight.

Keeping a food diary is essential as it helps you keep track of the irritants, while physical activity will help alleviate some of the symptoms.

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Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour, and humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”