Let’s start by saying I love food.
My last documentary was a road trip uncovering adaptations of Chinese cuisine in America. The show I’m currently on talks about Southeast Asian food in California. As an actress, producer and TV host, my schedule can be unpredictable. While on set, I don’t control what I eat sometimes, and with my strong interest in cuisine, I eat almost everything I want.
At the same time, I have lived with bloating, abdominal pain and indigestion for as long as I can remember – until a debilitating incident two years ago that left me on the floor, undergoing countless scans, two colonoscopies and taking painkillers. After seeing a couple of renowned gastrointestinal specialists, I was finally diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), about 20% to 40% of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms – and two out of three IBS sufferers are female. I’d like to share my personal journey of the situation I was in, what I tried, and how things worked for me. Everyone’s experience is different, but I hope that mine can help you realise that there is a way you can heal what some doctors term, the “second brain”, your gut.
Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are the most common GI issues in the general population. Based on estimates from Healthxchange.sg, nearly one in 10 Singaporeans suffers from IBS.
IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, irregular bowel movements. The exact cause of IBS is not known but symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous systems interact, according to IFFGD. It is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Some studies indicate that up to 80% of people with IBS have SIBO.
And what’s SIBO?
In a nutshell, SIBO means that the bacteria that live in your small intestine are overgrown, and the bacteria that normally maintain balance among your gut flora aren’t working.