This is a worrying and anxious time for all. Many of you have been messaging me asking if your IBS will increase your risk of coronavirus and what can you do about it.
With lots of inaccurate information out there, I thought I would write this blog post on the topic of IBS and coronavirus.
I will cover: your risk, how to optimise your immune system and stocking up on low FODMAP foods.
Please post comments or questions below!
Table of Contents
Corona Virus and IBS – Are You More at Risk?
Coronavirus is still very new, which means we have limited research and can not give guidance for every single health condition out there.
The likelihood is that you will not be more at risk of corona virus if you have IBS. This is because IBS does not directly weaken the immune system unlike other conditions such as heart or lung disease.
Having said that, there are some common issues of people with IBS that may weaken the immune system.
For example, eating a restricted diet or being low in mood can impact the immune system and we know these are issues for those with IBS.
IBS and Coronavirus – Is IBS Considered a Chronic Condition?
If you listen to the news or social media, you will hear that people with ‘chronic conditions’ are more at risk of Coronavirus and its complications.
A chronic condition is defined as: conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both (1).
So, yes, IBS is a chronic condition. BUT this is not relevant in this situation as the media are just using this term as a very broad umbrella term.
They are referring to conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and lung disease.
IBS and Coronavirus – What To Eat To Boost Your Immune System
You will be wanting to know exactly what to eat to boost your immune system right? Surely the correct diet can prevent the Coronavirus?
Yes and no.
Again, we do not have any research looking directly at diet and the Coronavirus. So I can not give you a 100% accurate answer here.
But, what we do know is that not 1 single food will boost the immune system in any way. It is therefore, unlikely that you need to be focusing in on any special food types to fight this virus.
Instead, it is important just to eat a varied diet which cover all the micro and macronutrients you require. This will mean that your immune system will generally function at it’s optimum.
If you have a restricted diet (especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables) this is when your immune system can be weakened.
What Supplements Should I Take To Boost My Immune System?
Have you started taking vitamin C yet? Or perhaps an immune boosting detox?
I have seen SO many people taking large doses of vitamin C in the hope to ward off the coronavirus. I really hope you are not one of them.
Although we know vitamin C plays a role in the immune system, numerous studies have shown that taking supplements makes no difference.
Please save your money and get your nutrition from your food.
Other Ways To Boost Your Immune System
As you know, your immune system is complicated and diet is only 1 factor.
Other elements which impact your health include exercise, mental wellbeing and sleep. As IBS sufferers, these are also areas which we probably don’t do so well with.
Here are so practical tips you can implement
- Sleep – I want you to go through the guidance from The Sleep Council. It is amazing and what I use for both myself and and my clients. Click here.
- Stress / Anxiety – You will likely feel very anxious right now, I know I do! Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor if this is an ongoing issue. I personally find that journalling daily, limiting my time on social media / watching the news and daily meditation work well. But consistency is key.
- Exercise – hopefully you will be avoiding any gyms right now. It is important that we adhere to social distancing at this time. There are MANY other ways to exercise though. I keep it simple and head to YouTube for an at home work out. There are lots of different types to suit everyone’s needs and abilities. You will also find that the workout boosts your mood.
Low FODMAP Foods To Stock Up On
Firstly, I do not recommend ‘stock piling’ foods at all. However, I do think it is a good idea for you to have a 2 week supply of food at home in case you need to self isolate.
The world is not running out of food, so please do not panic! The real problem right now is the panic buying.
These are some of the low FODMAP foods that I have stocked up on for 2 weeks;
- Frozen fish and chicken
- Firm tofu
- Canned lentils and chick peas
- Frozen edamame
- Chick pea pasta
Vegetables / Fruits
- Frozen spinach
- Frozen carrots
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned sweetcorn
- Canned mandarins
- Frozen chopped bell peppers
- Low FODMAP pasta
- Low FODMAP bread
- Low FODMAP flour
- Peanut butter
- Chia seeds
- Long life almond milk
- Long life lactose-free cow’s milk
- Cheddar (can be frozen)
- Maple syrup
- Banana chips
- Garlic infused oil
- Dark chocolate
Reliable Sources of Information
Have you noticed that everyone is now an ‘expert’ on coronavirus? This is going to cause you a lot of stress and anxiety.
So that you get the correct information, I would suggest sticking the the following sources and only checking daily. Otherwise you will be become very overwhelmed!
At present, there is nothing to suggest you are more at risk of Coronavirus if you have IBS.
Following the general guidelines to ensure your sleep, diet, mental wellbeing and exercise is optimised can help your immune system.
Stock up on foods for 2 weeks only, this is just incase you have to self isolate.
If you find your IBS is really flaring up and you would like help. Our dietitian’s are currently offering consultations via online video only as part of social distancing. You can book for a free call with them by clicking here.
How are you protecting yourself against the Coronavirus? Comment below.
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.