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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is causing my bloating, gas and diarrhea?

    I am a female aged 23 and am training for triathlons.

    Several times through the year I have suffered from an upset stomach overnight and in the mornings with bloating, gas, diarrhoea and sometime stomach pain before the bowel movements.

    Quite often their is noticeable undigested food and most mornings need 2-3 bowel movements (always diarrhea) before the upset stomach subsides.

    This particular time these symptoms have been every day for 3 weeks. I am worried I am starting to not absorb vitamins effectively as I am starting to suffer from muscle cramps and my morning training sessions are suffering.

    I also believe it has something to do with such a high fiber diet. Stress also seems to exacerbate the symptoms.

    Should I see a dietitian in person? I have told my doctor and they recommended an iron tablet every now and then to help bind me up but I eat red meat 2-3 times per week.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 5

    Thanks

    Lucy Gorsuch

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Podiatrist (General)

    Qualified Dietician (Master Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Wollongong), & qualified Podiatrist (Bachelor of Podiatry at UniSA), work in private practice in both these ... View Profile

    This sounds alot like irritable bowel syndrome, however it is important that you discuss with your doctor to have tests done to eliminate any other bowel problems, such as a fecal sample, coeliac serology, and to test if you are iron / b 12 deficient, and possibly refer to a gastroenterologist for colonoscopy / gastroscopy. It would be safe to trial a low FODMAP diet prior to these tests being done to see if that helps your symptoms, under the guidance of a dietitian.

  • 1

    Thanks

    cflake

    HealthShare Member

    Thanks Lucy. I have discussed with my doctor and earlier this year had a stools test which she said was fine. My iron levels were once low but have been closely monitored and have been fine this year. Do you think I should go back to my doctor, get a second referral or see a dietician after trying a FODMAP eating plan?

    Thanks again for the feedback

  • 2

    Thanks

    Sharon Hespe

    Naturopath

    I am a degree qualified naturopath that specialises in the detection and treatment of food intolerances in both children and adults. View Profile

    In my experience it sounds like it is possible that you have an intolerance to a food, or a fructose problem, after you have had the colonoscopy and gastroscopy to rule out any organic problems, I would recommend that you find a naturopath that is experienced in this field that can help you.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Amanda Clark

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Amanda Clark (Adv APD) is a senior dietitian at Great Ideas in Nutrition on the Gold Coast. She is the creator of Portion Perfection, a ... View Profile

    There's a whole lot of possibilities, and I would request a referral to a dietitian who is skilled in Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Gastro problems. 

    This may be related to your training, it could relate to fibre or an underlying problem with the bowel. A structured approach to addressing the possibilities and reviewing the tests you've had would be required to get to the bottom of this, so to speak.

    You don't need a referral to a dietitian, however some input from your GP would be valuable regarding test results. If you request a referral to a dietitian from your GP, ask whether they know that this dietitian is skilled in this area and if not check in your area via www.daa.asn.au under find a dietitian.

    Regards
    Amanda

  • cflake

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you to all of you for your replies - they all provided good feedback for me. It has given me more of an idea as to what it could be and I will follow up your suggestions.

  • 2

    Thanks

    Sharon Brooks

    Nutritionist

    Sharon, a Registered Nutritionist RNutr and Food Scientist runs a nutrition consulting business that specialises in proactive nutrition and disease prevention.Sharon runs corporate, school and ... View Profile

    Hi There,

    I agree with the expert opinions listed, your symptoms are likely due to an intolerance to certain foods or IBS. Diarrhoea that lasts longer than 2-3 weeks is a good indication of IBS; particularly if this regularly occurs. I recommend arranging breath tests for FODMAPS, a colonoscopy and gastroscopy.  

    A few other important considerations: 

    1) Stress is a major contributor to gastrointestinal upsets. A high level of circulating cortisol (stress hormone) and Neuropeptide Y (a brain chemical messenger) in the blood can disrupt digestion and absorption of all foods. A hormone assessment may or may not detect this as the levels often fluctuate. Stress can also alter the balance of good and bad bateria in the gut which can increase the risk of gas and diarhhoea. Staregies for stress management may assist.

    2) If you consume a high fibre diet only occassionally the body's threshold for tolerating the added bulk is low- The result of added digestive load can be harsh. If the fibre is in the form of beans, pulses, legumes etc, consuming these foods more regularly will reduce the symptoms (if you're not intolerant to them).

    3) Triathlon training can be very taxing on the body. Your immune system may be slightly lowered due to the intense demands required for sports performance and sports recovery. And therefore, you may be experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort as a result of this. Increasing probiotic and prebiotics will boost your immune system, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi and sauerkraut. 

    I hope you feel better soon, good luck with it all!   

              

  • 2

    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    To add to the responses above I would recommend you not only seek professional dietary advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) but more importantly due to your sport (triathlons) an Accredited Sports Dietitian who is experienced in gastrointestinal disorders and triathlons. Sports dietitians have the same qualifications as APD's however, they have undergone further study and professional development in sports nutrition and can help you perform better in your races.

    To find an Accredited Sports Dietitian log onto the Sports Dietitians website (www.sportsdietitians.com.au) to find one near you.

  • cflake

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you all for the advice. I was diagnosed with IBS in January and tried to implement the low FODMAP diet myself with small success. I was losing more weight and sought out a dietician to help me. Symptoms began to alleviate after 6 weeks or so and we began introducing food groups. Fructose (we used honey) was really bad and it took me a week to get over the trial. Sorbitol and manitol were fine. Introducing wheat then began problems and I went back to low-FODMAP with no relief. Stress levels hit high along with nausea, exhaustion and fatigue. The stomach issue didnt resolve either and my family began to get worried as my body fat composition for the dietcian was now 8.5% and my mental health not the best by this stage. I went to the doctors and got referrals to the immunologist and psychologist. As the immunologist appointment was a while away and the exhaustion/nausea was worsening, I went back to the doctor asking for her to check Vit B12 and enzymes/digestive bacteria even though she didnt expect any results and wasnt overly keen on getting me tested. Results came back positive to Dientamoeba parasite and she put me on antibiotics (dioxycycline). Hopefully this works! Do any of you know whether one set of antibiotics will be enough? Thanks again for all your help previously!

  • Anca Vereen

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with additional qualifications in psychology and sports nutrition. I use a holistic and integrative approach to tailor my ... View Profile

    Did you know that overtraining can have a negavtive impact on your microbiome and that you can lose iron through your sweat leading to iron deficiency in predisposed individuals?

    You likely present with leaky gut/dysbiosis which can lead to IBS symptoms etc. The dientomoeba can cause that.  Generally things like gluten, lactose and fructose are common things that become more difficult to digest and cause problems as a consequence.  Things like overtraining, stress, alchohol, high animal protein diet, high fat diet, low fibre diet, caffeine, antibiotics etc etc can impact our gut bacteria and cause an imbalance between your good and bad bacteria and can make it worse ... 

    Prebiotics, some probiotics (not all or any probiotics) and other amino acids, vitamins and minerals can help support gut healing. There are many options available to improve symptoms. Antibiotics can help but should be taken with a probiotic 3-4 h apart during, and 4-6 weeks after finishing the course. The type of probiotic you take will be important. 

    Your muscle crampings are also an indication of low magnesium etc. 

    Hope this helps. 

  • Lyn Craven

    Bowen Therapist, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    I specialise in gastrointestinal health problems, (leaky gut syndrome, allergies, bloating, candida, IBS, constipation, dysbiosis, reflux), women's health, back/neck pain, RSI, carpel tunnel syndrome, rotating/tilting ... View Profile

    I treat a number of digestive bowel disorders and each case needs to be treated in accordance with symptoms presented along with results from functional lab tests.  Many times bowel disorders are the result of parasites that have not been detected on previous stool tests or perhaps never addressed in the first place.  Obviously dietary changes may be required and regardless of whether someone is gluten intolerant or not I always remove all foods containing gluten and cows diary to start with.

    I have been in practice as a medical herbalist and naturopath since 1995 so do have many years experience with a variety of digestive bowel disorders. 

    Nothing is an overnight fix!  If you have had this problem for many months or years it will take longer to resolve. 

    I would recommend getting this addressed as soon as possible.

    I work with herbal remedies, homoeopathics, and probiotics.  Any dietary changes/supplements will be considered at time of your consultation.

    There are also possibilities (especially with very chronic cases) of diverticulitis being present.  Inflammation of the colon can occur with long standing IBS that has not been treated correctly.

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