Our expert says:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) presenting with constipation in an older person like your Gran who you mention is 83, needs to be treated under the supervision of a medical doctor or a registered dietitian. The basic solution to this type of IBS would be to increase her intake of high-fibre foods. However older patients often find it difficult to consume large quantities of high-fibre foods because of problems with chewing and digestion higher up in the digestive tract. For safety's sake I would recommend that you ask your medical dr to prescribe a gentle laxative such as Fybogel. Harsh laxatives can cause constant diarrhoea and deplete your Granny's minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium and should be avoided. I would also recommend that she should consult a registered dietitian (visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: www.adsa.org.za and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area), to help her increase her dietary fibre intake gradually. It is very important that most patients with IBS should not suddenly start eating masses of high-fibre foods (Hi-bran cereals, wholewheat bread, etc), because their digestive tract needs to gradually get used to this increase in bulk. By suddenly going from 1-2 g of fibre/day to 30 g/day can cause extreme discomfort, bloating and even bowel obstruction. To increase your Granny's dietary fibre intake and obtain tips about this condition, click on ‘Diet & Nutrition’ at the top of this page, ‘You are what you eat’ and “Healthy GI tract’. Read the articles on ‘Probiotics’ too because the use of ‘good microorganisms’ can help a lot in IBS. Try Bifidoflora which you can buy at health shops. But I would still caution you to do the introduction of the fibre under the guidance of a dietitian because of your Granny's age.
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