It is a serious condition that affects around 40,000 of us here in Ireland.
IBD (Inflammatory Bowel DIsease) is a long-term inflammation of your digestive tract and primarily includes colitis and Crohn's disease. It makes up part of IBD and symptoms can be quite variable and include tummy pain, bloating and bouts of diarrhoea and/or constipation.
For those who suffer from this condition, they will know that these symptoms tend to come and go. There is no cure for the condition but symptoms can often be eased with treatment and dietary changes:
We spoke to Mary Forry, a specialist nurse dealing with these symptoms at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
Paying special attention to what you eat may go a long way towards reducing symptoms.
Here's how to manage your diet which can help prevent symptoms from flaring up:
1. Identify problem foods
Keeping a food diary is a great way to track foods eaten and record any worsening of IBD symptoms triggered by particular foods. If done over time, a food diary may allow you to identify problem foods and rule these out of your diet.
2. Choose suitable fuel when appetite is poor
If you are going through a period where you have partially or completely lost your appetite due to an IBD flare-up it’s important to consume the right type of food to limit malnutrition.
It’s advisable to consume reasonable amounts of high-calorie foods on a regular basis to help your body retain as much energy and nutrients from the food as possible. If solid foods are difficult to take due to IBD symptoms, liquidised foods can provide nutrition instead.
3. Tailor a diet that works for you
Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is essential for people with IBD but there are healthy foods that can still disagree with IBD sufferers. Don’t waste time trying to create a cure-all diet plan alone – consulting a healthcare professional will help you develop a tailored diet that works for your specific disease when you are in remission and when you have a flare-up.
4. Watch out for nutrient deficiencies
If you suffer from IBD it’s likely that you will at some point be deficient in a range of nutrients due to a range of factors including IBD symptoms and different types of treatment. If you have ulcerative colitis you may be lacking in folate, magnesium, calcium, iron or potassium, and Crohn’s sufferers can be at risk of deficiency in vitamins a, b12, d, e, k, as well as folate, magnesium, zinc, potassium and calcium.
To reduce nutrient deficiencies, always consult your healthcare professional and think about incorporating supplements and nutrient-rich foods into your diet.
5. Stay hydrated
As diarrhoea is a common symptom of IBD, sufferers can often experience varying degrees of dehydration and subsequently dizzy spells or fatigue. It is important to keep fluid intake high if you are experiencing diarrhoea to avoid negative impact on kidney function. Consuming ample fluids, particularly in warm weather, is hugely important for people with IBD when additional salt and water will be lost due to the heat.
To mark World IBD day today, a campaign has been launched by the ISCC through an online petition, to double the number of specialist IBD numbers - from 14 to 28 nurses. This is in line with IBD treatment recommendations and best practices across other European countries.