Hidden Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a problem I see so often in clinic and it is problematic on many different levels. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you may well have been suffering with it for years. While a diagnosis can – at first– offer comfort in finally having a recognised problem, the satisfaction is frequently short-lived because often that’s where all support ends, and you’re left no further forward in actually getting to the root causes and resolving the symptoms.

The difficulty begins because IBS is a catch-all term used to encompass a huge variety of digestive issues, including stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, easily feeling full, nausea and heartburn. There are also non-digestive symptoms which often accompany IBS such as anxiety, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and a frequent need to urinate. Each person’s experience with IBS is a bit different, and certain symptoms often seem to be stronger or more frequent than others.

In my experience, some of the underlying causes of IBS symptoms are likely to include one or more of the following five conditions.

1. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)

Around 60% of people with IBS will have SIBO. Though you might have heard about good (and bad) bacteria in the gut, really what experts are talking about is the balance of bacteria. While bacteria naturally occur throughout the digestive tract, in a healthy system, the small intestine has relatively low levels of bacteria, whereas the highest concentration should be in the colon in the large intestine.

Bacteria are moved down into the large intestine during fasting at night and between meals, clearing them from the small intestine (SI) on a daily basis. This flush is called the ‘migrating motor complex’. For a huge variety of reasons (historic food poisoning being the most common, but also low levels of stomach acid or adhesions play a role, among others) the bacteria are not swept away. The trouble is that with SIBO, as food passes through the small intestine, the bacterial overgrowth actually consumes some of the foods and nutrients, leading to unpleasant symptoms, including gas, bloating and pain.

A breath test can establish which gases are present, and we can devise an action plan based on your results.

2. Lactose intolerance

This is when your body is not able to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found naturally in milk and other dairy products. Essentially, bacteria in your intestine feed on these milk sugars, leading to a host of IBS symptoms, like bloating and gas, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea.

It can go hand in hand with other digestive complaints, such as coeliac disease or increased intestinal permeability (‘leaky gut’). Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed via a simple at-home breath test.

3. Fructose malabsorption

The symptoms are very similar to lactose intolerance. Fructose (which is found in fruit, honey and many processed foods) is a sugar, which, like lactose, is digested in the small intestine. Some people cannot absorb fructose, and what is not absorbed is fermented by intestinal bacteria, causing bloating, cramping, gas and distension of the stomach. You might also experience brain fog and headaches. A breath test will diagnose the condition.

4. Dysbiosis

This is an imbalance in the levels of beneficial (good) and pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the large intestine or colon. This is now common due to overuse of antibiotics and alcohol, an increase in high sugar diets and stress.

Symptoms can vary from a sluggish bowel or diarrhoea, pain, bloating and flatulence, to chronic bad breath, joint pain, fatigue and food sensitivities. Dysbiosis is also implicated in a variety of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A stool test can help establish whether your gut bacteria are out of balance, along with a host of other markers that are very useful in getting to the root of your digestive problems.

5. Yeast overgrowth

When it’s at proper levels in the body, candida is a fungus that aids with nutrient absorption and digestion. But when candida overproduces it becomes a fungal infection that can affect men and women of all ages in various parts of the body. Symptoms include thrush, gas or bloating, fatigue, bad breath, white coating on tongue, cravings for sweet foods, UTIs, weak immune systems, joint pain and brain fog.

Antibiotics, Birth Control Pills, a weakened immune system and diets high in sugar feed the yeast. A stool test can establish the presence of candida or other yeast overgrowth.

PS: Some people struggle with digestive problems for years. If you are ready to take the first step in getting to the bottom of your digestive problems, I invite you to book to book your FREE 30- min IBS Empowered to Thrive Call now by clicking HERE.



How To Enjoy Easter Without Bingeing Or Deprivation

Easter is going to turn up, whether you like it or not. Moreish chocolatey treats, hot cross buns lathered in butter, will be all around us, and in every shop and TV commercial. It’s enough to melt away your good intentions, and with this much pressure, bingeing feels almost inevitable.

Of course, chocolate is available all year round. The trouble seems to come when there’s too much chocolate around, as during this time of year. In no time it leads to too much temptation, eating too much in one go, then feeling miserable because you over indulged. The worst parts of a binge are the feelings of guilt and failure that you feel afterwards.

So let’s sort that and figure out how we can enjoy our treats at this time of year, without bingeing but also without depriving ourselves.  And let’s start by accepting that Easter will mean chocolate indulgence on one level or another and then move on!

Top Tips to Avoid Over-Eating

  1. Try to discourage family and friends from buying chocolate for you, or failing that, let them know what and how much you’d like. This helps put you back in control.
  2. Ideally choose the darker chocolate eggs or chocolate selection. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less room there is for sugar. Aim for over 70% which doesn’t raise blood sugar and insulin levels as much as milk chocolate. If that’s too dark for you, around 60% is a good compromise for those who prefer milk chocolate. Plus, from clinical experience, dark chocolate seems to dampen cravings, particularly chocolate that is above 70% cacao content.
  3. Don’t to eat too much in one go with the intention of getting ‘rid’ of the chocolate sooner. Eating a whole large egg will lead to an energy crash later on, not to mention, for many, feelings of disappointment in yourself that you ’gave in’ or ‘failed’ with your diet.
  4. Don’t eat chocolate on an empty stomach. Firstly, it will give you a blood sugar crash. Secondly, it will encourage you to overeat due to hunger. It’s healthier all round, both for your body and mindset, to have a smaller amount of chocolate as treats after meals containing protein (protein slows the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream) and/or to reduce the blood sugar roller coaster by eating a few nuts at the same time if you’re not having it after a protein meal.
  5. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can make the right choices. Don’t give yourself the excuse that there was nothing else to eat. Ensure you have plenty of your usual healthy foods to hand.
  6. Get a good night’s sleep– yes, really, if you want to keep your appetite in check, getting good quality sleep is essential! Our hunger hormone leptin increases when we become fatigued. That means a spike in our appetite, which inevitably leads to snacking.
  7. Eat mindfully– make sure you savour each mouthful of chocolate, don’t wolf it all down in one big mouthful! This will help you to eat less, as you will feel that you have truly been able to indulge. Savour it slowly, enjoying how it melts on your tongue, how the flavour floods your mouth. Swallow when you’re ready. When it starts not to taste as good and/or your enjoyment starts to fade, decide whether you have had enough. If not, continue eating. If so, then stop. Know that if you want more later, you can have it.
  8. Eat consciously. Make sure your decision to eat chocolate is a conscious one. “Some chocolate would be nice, but I choose not to have one right now”. Whether it’s donating an unopened box to a local food charity, or dividing it up among friends, and/or saving it for later, you can make the decision that you don’t want it. Choosing, and therefore consciously taking responsibility, puts you back in control.
  9. Remove guilt– we can feel deprived even as we eat (and overeat) something if we don’t really let ourselves have it without guilt. Feeling deprived will just lead to overeating so let go of the guilt and enjoy while you eat your treat mindfully.

Alternatives To The Traditional Easter Egg Hunt

If the Easter egg (and everything that goes with it) plays a big part in your family’s tradition, consider doing something a bit different this year.  Here are some great alternatives to the traditional Easter egg hunt

 Chocolate Binge Rescue Remedy

Consider that even the healthiest people over indulge – but they don’t beat themselves up about it. They just go back to eating normally.

If you do happen to sugar binge this Easter, rule #1 is: don’t panic! Negative self talk and freaking out about weight gain will only exacerbate the situation – not fix it. Neither will throwing in the towel and continuing to binge OR going in the opposite direction and starting a fad diet.

Instead, you can still rescue the situation and stop it turning into a binge, sabotaging all your good work. Say: “It’s done, it’s in the past and I choose to move on”.  Easter is ONE DAY, that’s all. There is no need to be on the rollercoaster for the rest of the month.

Remember that small amounts of the best quality, dark chocolate has the following benefits: anti-ageing, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, is packed with antioxidants and important minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and selenium. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine; the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love …

PS If you are the kind of person who KNOWS you will have a problem with the Easter binge because this kind of bingeing and self sabotage is what you do, or you need some help to get healthy, click here to book in a FREE 30- minute Empowered to Thrive Call HERE


Delicious and Nutritious Kale Chips

If you’ve seen kale chips in the shops and want to try your own, this recipe is for you!



75g cashew nuts (ideally soaked for 2 hours)
1 shallot, chopped
2tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
½ tsp garlic salt
4 soft large dates, chopped
2tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp water
2tbsp apple cider vinegar
250g bag of chopped kale


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. Blend all the ingredients, except the kale, until thick.
  3. Add a little more water if needed.
  4. Place the kale in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Massage thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Place the kale on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Carefully turn them over and cook for a further 5 minutes.



The Ultimate Cold & Flu Survival Guide

We are all familiar with the fact that when the temperature drops, the chance of us coming down with a cold or the flu increases significantly. That’s because we’re likely to be inside and studies have shown that the flu survives and spreads better when the air is dry than when it is more humid. And, when you spend more time indoors, you’re exposed to more germs.

The flu virus is also transmitted much faster when it’s cold because the fatty coating of the virus that hardens and protects it becomes more resilient the colder it gets. In warmer temperatures this protective coating melts, and unless it is inside a living person or animal, the virus perishes.

Did you know: when your core internal temperature falls after exposure to cold, the immune system’s ability to battle the rhinovirus (the virus that causes it) is also reduced. The immune system literally slows down.

Interestingly, cold feet may also play a part. In a recent study, researchers made students sit with their feet in cold water for 20 minutes. These students were found to be statistically much more likely to catch a cold in the next five days than the control group (those who didn’t have to sit with their feet in cold water).


Fewer colds and sick days this winter would be good, right? Here are my top seven tips to keep you fighting fit this month – and beyond. I print out this list and stick it on the fridge as a reminder to me (and my family) that prevention is better than cure


Why? Recent studies suggest that the immune system stays depressed for hours after consuming sugar. That’s because sugar fans the flames of inflammation and affects the ability of white blood cells to fend off viruses and bacteria.

Enjoy raw cocoa, Sweet Freedom Choc Shots or cacao hot chocolate on chilly days, adding your favourite milk or milk substitutes (with a little xylitol or stevia to sweeten, if you like). A few squares of pure, dark chocolate will also satisfy – Green & Blacks, or any good chocolate with a higher cocoa content (at least 75%), is ideal.


Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity to germs and disease is in the gut? The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in the gut is part of the first line of immune defence, so getting the right balance between beneficial, or ‘good’ gut bacteria, and the ‘bad’, or potentially unfriendly bacteria, is key.

How to do this:

The gut environment takes a beating year after year, owing to poor diets, too much sugar, stress, antibiotics and other factors. Even if you have no obvious tummy troubles, digestive health is vital, so it’s worth the extra effort to take care of it.

Add probiotic and prebiotic foods to your diet, as these re-populate the gut with good bacteria and feed them well enough to crowd out bad bacteria.

Here are some gut-friendly choices to get you started:

  • Organic, probiotic, natural yoghurt (such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s)
  • Choose full-fat, as the 0% or no-fat options have increased levels of milk sugars – and fat isn’t the enemy, either in life or in weight loss
  • Miso soup or miso bouillon paste (add these to soups and stews)
  • Oats (soak first, as you would to make overnight oats, in order to release the goodness)
  • Onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Beans


Did you hear that chicken soup is great when you’re unwell? If you thought it was just an old wives’ tale, you’d be wrong. Research suggests that a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup can slow the speed at which neutrophils move around your body. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and part of the immune system, protecting your body from infection. When the neutrophils move slowly, there’s a greater chance of them becoming more concentrated in the areas of your body that need the most healing. Studies have shown chicken soup to be particularly helpful in reducing symptoms in upper respiratory system infections like the common cold.


Water is a miracle worker. It flushes germs from your system, helps your blood to carry plenty of oxygen to your body’s cells and allows those cells to absorb important nutrients.

Invest in a filter jug or bottle to avoid quaffing high levels of chlorine and fluorine along with your tap water.

Green tea and chamomile tea are also immune system strengtheners. Chamomile promotes the production of white blood cells (macrophages and B-lymphocytes) which are the biggest infection-fighters of your immune system. Green tea, and Japanese macha in particular, is rich in polyphenols, specifically a group of natural chemicals called catechins. The catechins in green tea (the most powerful of which is epigallocatechin, or EGCG for short) have been found to be at least 25 times more potent than vitamins C and E.


Top of the list for immunity are a good probiotic, a multivitamin and extra vitamin C and zinc.

For most people, a daily probiotic will help maintain the right balance of bacteria in the gut. If you have ongoing tummy troubles like IBS or constipation, we should talk – you will need something for your specific symptoms.

A multivitamin bridges the gap between what you are eating and what you should be eating, and takes care of any major deficiencies.

Go large when it comes to vitamin C, both in food and supplement form. Broccoli and red peppers contain more C than oranges (contrary to popular belief) and there are loads of other foodie options, too: kale, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and citrus fruits.

Top up zinc levels by eating more palm-sized pieces of lean meat (especially lamb, beef, venison and turkey), pumpkin seeds, ginger root, green veggies, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, yoghurt and scallops.


Adding flavour to food is a smart way to include delicious immune boosters on your plate.

Garlic is a potent superfood. It is antimicrobial, thanks to the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight viruses, and has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and prevent sickness.

Most culinary herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties due to their phytonutrients, but oregano and thyme are particularly rich. Spice up your cooking with turmeric and ginger, too, as these are well-documented immune boosters.


There are a variety of different natural ingredients that are backed by research pointing to their usefulness.

Fresh ginger added to boiling water may help sooth a sore throat or cough. Honey (look for raw honey or Manuka rather than the common-or-garden variety) is often teamed with lemon for a soothing drink for sore throats and may also act as cough suppressant. Raw honey should not be given to children younger than one as it may contain botulinum spores.

Sore throats may additionally benefit from gargling with salt water, while saline (salt water) nose drops help clear mucous from blocked nasal passages and soothes tender skin inside the nostrils.

PS If you’re the kind of person who ALWAYS has a cold or gets things worse than everyone else, would you like to try to fix that? Maybe you have other health issues or niggly symptoms you know you need to work on. You’d be amazed how you can improve your health by following a good eating plan. You know where I am… and you can book a free call HERE.


Top Tips for Portion Control

I am often asked by clients – and in fact many other people I come across as soon as they discover I am a Registered Nutritional Therapist ‘how much should I be eating?’ This is never a straightforward question but I’m going to give you some general guidance.


My experience is what people are actually asking is ‘how much of the different food groups should I be eating’ or ‘what should my plate look like’ and my answer is this:

  • Have protein at every meal
  • Eat as much non-starchy veg as you can
  • Think carefully about the type and quantity of starchy carbs like potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.

I ask people to split their plate in half. Consider filling 2/3 of one half of the plate with protein, the remaining 1/3 of that half plate with starchy carbs, and the second half of the plate with non-starchy veg. This is a good visual guide.


People are frequently surprised because the advice on the starchy carbs goes against what the diet industry and big slimming clubs have been telling us for years. It is also the exact opposite of the ratios you’ll see if you open up a ready meal ­ – the starchy carbs section is usually very generous as this is typically the cheapest part of the meal to manufacture. Even if you’re a little unsure, trust me on it.


You’ve probably heard it said that you should eat until you are 80% full, then stop. There is a lot of logic in this because it takes some time for the stretch receptors in your stomach to pass the message to your brain that you are actually full.

If you eat slowly, taking care to properly chew every mouthful, your body will thank you for it because you will be digesting your food better, and you may find you eat less than you normally would simply because you’ve given your brain a bit of a chance to catch on to the fact that you no longer need to eat!


There’s usually something else going on, too, and this cunning trick might be what you need if portion control is something you struggle with. Serve yourself a meal on a smaller plate. I’m not suggesting you go from dinner plate to side plate but try swapping from a 12-inch dinner plate to a 9-inch plate. The same serving will look significantly more generous, tricking you into thinking it’s more food.

Try it, it does work.

9 Ways to Avoid Festive Season Weight Gain (And Still Have Fun)

December is a month that encompasses the Christian and Jewish celebrations of Festive Season and Hanukkah, and also includes spiritually significant days for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans and Zoroastrians. Festivities and commemoration for each faith go on for varying lengths of time.

So how do we end up piling on the pounds over the festive season?

It’s normal to want to indulge over the Festive Season, but the number of people joining diet clubs and gyms in January speaks volumes about how many regret their festive binges.

Maybe you’ve grown up associating food with pleasure and fun, so subconsciously you fear that if you don’t eat tonnes, you won’t have a ‘happy Festive Season/happy Hanukkah’. It’s easy to slip into a ‘one more won’t hurt’ mind-set – just one of the many reasons you might have piled on the pounds during the festive period in the past.

When working with clients on weight loss programmes, I always like to get clear on what has held them back in the past. These are a few of the things that often come up

1. Portion control – have you ever felt you’ve waited all year for Festive Season/Hannukah, so you’re not about the hold back? The extra roasties or chocolates don’t seem to matter.

2. Social life – family gatherings, work lunches and endless parties mean that you are literally overloaded with temptation, sometimes on a daily basis. And hangovers add to the urge to eat junk food and veg out on the sofa

3. Sedentary lifestyle – a busy social life means exercise routines get put on the back burner as we swap dumbbells for the remote control. Swap that for a few brisk walks in the park or some gym time and you’ll have done the hard work of making a start come the New Year- starting is always the hardest bit

4. Mental ‘hall pass’ – willpower goes out the window at this time of year. It’s almost as if you tell yourself that it’s fine to binge on everything in sight as you’ll lose it all when you go on a January diet / detox- which often doesn’t ever start.

Guess what? You can still enjoy the festive season and not gain weight

The trick is to not feel left out by integrating treat foods into the context of an overall healthy diet. So one slice of cake/doughnut/biscuit treat, not four, in one afternoon. And as long as you have some strategies in place before the festive season, there’s no reason why you can’t start the New Year looking and feeling fantastic.

If you don’t have a plan (for parties, going out, visiting friends, having family over and so on) you are setting yourself up to fail. Be clear in your mind what your healthy options are, and if you know you’re going somewhere you won’t be able to eat the right foods, take some nutritious snacks or meals with you.

9 Tips To Avoid Gaining Weight Over The Festive Season

As a qualified BSc Nutritional Therapist, I work with clients to take control of their relationship with food and plan how to get through times when over-indulgence might feel hard to resist.

Here are my 9 tips for how to avoid gaining weight over The Festive Season, and still have fun:


It’s unrealistic to try and avoid all temptation over the Festive Season, but by setting a specific goal – say, limiting yourself to one treat a day, or scheduling in a quick workout once or twice a week to offset your increased calorie intake – will help you stay on track


Fill up on some protein-rich food such as nuts, seeds or chicken before you hit the party circuit


Eating from a smaller dish causes you to eat less, because the food itself looks more substantial. If you transfer food from a 12-inch plate to a 9-inch plate, it looks like more food and you, therefore, feel more satisfied. And avoid seconds unless you are genuinely still hungry


Research reveals that fat from certain foods, including ice cream and roast potatoes, goes straight to the brain and tells you to eat more! It triggers messages that are sent to the body’s cells, warning them to ignore appetite-suppressing hormones that regulate our weight.

The effect can last for a few days, sabotaging efforts to get back to a healthy diet afterwards. Dr Deborah Clegg, who conducted the research, explains: “Normally our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen. When you eat something high in fat, your brain gets ‘hit’ with the fatty acids and you become resistant to insulin (which regulates blood sugar levels) and leptin (the hormone that suppresses hunger). Since you are not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat.


If you want a Quality Street chocolate and all you have to do is reach to the tin and help yourself, chances are you’ll end up eating 3 or 4. But if you have to get your shoes on, walk to the shop in the cold to buy some chocolate, you probably wouldn’t bother.

Ever heard yourself say “take this away from me, so I stop eating?” With food directly in front of you, it’s easy to overindulge. Once it’s removed, you realise you aren’t even hungry – you were just eating because it was there. So keep unhealthy foods out of sight in cupboards- or better still, don’t buy them. If you know they’re in the house, you might not be able to resist


Veggies don’t need to be doused in oil and roasted to within an inch of their lives to taste good. Plus they can really fill you up in a healthy way.

One of my favourite festive side dishes are thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, steamed and then fried with garlic, pine nuts and a dash of white wine. It’s so tasty, I make it all year round. Slow-cooked red cabbage and apple is another fantastic way to get some much-needed nutrients


It takes around 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that you’re full. If you eat quickly, you’re more likely to overeat. Slowing down gives you time to recognise and assess how hungry you really are.

One trick I use is counting chews (it’s tedious but, believe me, it works). If you chew a bite 10 times, you’ll eat slower. I also found myself enjoying food more, as there’s more time to actually taste what I’m eating. Eventually it becomes second nature to chew more


Emotional support is crucial when it comes to dieting. Research shows that people who felt supported by their friends and family were 50% more likely to stick to a healthy eating plan. So ask your loved ones to help you avoid temptation by not to offering you sugary treats. Buddy up with a family member who is also trying to lose or maintain their weight. Having that moral support will boost your chances of success (and you won’t be riddled with that horrible feeling of regret the next day)


If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up or see it as an excuse to write off the rest of the day and eat everything in sight. Just leave it in the past- don’t ruminate about it, and move on.

If you’re resigned to Festive Season weight gain and are promising yourself you’ll do something about it in the New Year, why not make a commitment to your future self by booking a FREE call with me to see what the options are. I offer a range of health and weight loss packages that can help you reach your personal health goals. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to get to (and stay at) your happy weight.

                   M: 07812163324          Email:


Yours in health


Sylvia Salvendy

Nutritional Therapist, Health Coach & EFT Practitioner

BSc Nutritional Therapy, Dip BCNH, CNHC, mBANT

Accredited Certified EFT Practitioner AAMET

Zest4Life Health Coach




Interstitial Cystitis (IC)

What is it?

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) also referred to as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), or bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting women, men, girls and boys, regardless of age or race. Most IC patients have recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, which is associated with urinary frequency (needing to go often) and urgency (feeling a strong need to go).

The severity of the condition varies – it can range from fairly mild symptoms to experiencing chronic pelvic pain. The sudden urge to urinate can cause excruciating pain and may also be accompanied by abdominal pain, pressure or spasms. Pain can be in the abdominal, urethral or vaginal area and can be so extreme that it can wake the sufferer up in the night. Pain can be aggravated by stress/ anxiety, travel and sexual intercourse.

Causes of IC

The exact cause of interstitial cystitis (IC) remains a mystery, but researchers believe a trigger (caused by one or more events) may initially damage the bladder or bladder lining, and ultimately lead to the development of IC. Triggers may include bladder trauma, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and hypersensitivity/inflammation of pelvic nerves for example.

How Diet Might Trigger IC Flares

Irritation to the Bladder Wall

One theory is that a layer of the bladder wall is damaged which may allow substances found in the urine to seep into the sensitive layers of tissue which make up the bladder wall. When urine that contains these substances hits these parts of the bladder, they become irritated, causing pain and discomfort after eating bothersome foods and beverages.

Inflamed Nerves

Other scientists propose that substances in certain foods and beverages may excite sensitive nerve endings found in the bladder, resulting in bladder symptoms.

Increased Nerve Sensitivity

People with IC appear to have higher levels of pain receptors that are sensitive to certain compounds in foods. For example, they may have more receptors for capsaicin, the substance found in peppers. While bell peppers contain very small amounts of capsaicin and so usually don’t exacerbate IC, hot peppers contain higher amounts and may trigger IC flares.

Organ Cross Talk

Researchers have also proposed that IC bladder pain is caused by cross talk from the colon to surrounding organs. The pelvic organ nerves- the bladder, colon and prostate- are bunched together like telephone wires and plug into the same region of the spinal cord near the tailbone. People with IC have bladder nerves that are constantly transmitting pain signals to the spinal cord. When the colon is irritated, colon nerves also send pain signals to the same area on the spinal cord and this amplifies the pain.

Help For Relieving IC Symptoms


While research into the link between IC and foods/beverages is limited, it has shed light on certain foods and drinks which a broad number of IC sufferers have found trigger flare-ups. Changes in diet help many sufferers control their symptoms but studies have found there is a lot of variability from one IC patient to another. Thus, figuring out what to eat- and not to eat- can be stressful.

Along with avoiding common food triggers, a food elimination diet can be helpful, as well as identifying food sensitivities and keeping a food and symptoms diary. There are also a number of supplements which can help support integrity of the bladder lining and help reduce inflammation and pain, both issues implicated in IC.


Exercise– The health of your bladder depends on good blood flow to the area, and on having flexible and strong muscles around your bladder and other pelvic organs to protect and support them. Thus exercise, such as low impact aerobics, or yoga may be beneficial.

Stress– Most people with IC recognize that stress plays a part in exacerbating symptoms or triggering flare-ups. Learning basic relaxation techniques, mediation or EFT (also known as tapping) are evidence-based tools that can help mange stress.

Smoking– Research has shown that cigarettes irritate the bladder and may worsen IC symptoms of frequency, urgency and pain. Thus, quitting smoking may help reduce the severity of your IC symptoms.


Gordon B et al (2015) Nutritional Considerations for Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome. J Acad Nutr Diet 115 9 1372-1379

Interstitial Cystitis Association (2016) Interstitial Cystitis and Diet  last accessed 7.3.2017 at

Jhang JF, & Kuo  HC1 (2016) Pathomechanism of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome and Mapping the Heterogeneity of Disease. Int Neurourol J 20 Suppl 2 S95-104

Shorter B et al (2007) Effect of comestibles on symptoms of interstitial cystitis. J Urol 178 1145-52