Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is thought to affect 20% of people in the UK, though figures may be higher. A recent survey carried out by the makers of Alflorex has found that a staggering 48% of Brits put off visiting their doctor if they suspect a gut problem like IBS, instead hoping it will go away by itself. Of the survey respondents, one in six admitted that they had never been to their doctor even though they were suffering from a bowel issue. It was also found that 46% didn’t actually know the symptoms of IBS.This lack of awareness and embarrassment surrounding the condition may be stopping people get the support they need. While it is a long-term condition, there are ways to help manage symptoms and reduce their effect on your life. The research published by Alflorex found stress to be the biggest trigger for IBS, followed by diet. “When we’re in our sympathetic nervous system or ‘fight or flight’ mode, we struggle to digest food. To digest food, we need to be in our parasympathetic nervous system or ‘rest and digest’ mode. When food isn’t digested properly (for example, when we aren’t sitting in a calm, relaxed manner, and don’t chew each mouthful 20 to 30 times) the undigested food can cause a whole host of problems, many of which are associated with IBS.” - Ruth Tansey, nutritional therapist.We are learning more and more about gut health and how factors like lifestyle and stress are affecting us. With this knowledge comes support and treatment options... if we are brave enough to ask for it.If you suspect you have IBS, a visit to the doctor can start the process. After a formal diagnosis, you will be able to learn more about the condition and what changes you can make to improve symptoms.A nutrition professional can support you with a diet plan, helping you take care of your gut health, reduce IBS symptoms and get on with your life, embarrassment free.