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Success Story: Jo, 53 years How we healed her IBS, bloating, abdominal pain and bouts of diarrhoea

When Jo started her health journey with me, she had been suffering with IBS

symptoms for over 20 years. Her main symptoms were:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Bloating

  • Cramps in the navel and chest area

  • Foul-smelling stools and gas

  • Bouts of diarrhoea

  • Poor sleep with difficulty staying asleep

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety

  • Bouts of depression

  • Dry eyes

  • Difficulty losing weight

woman with bloating stomach pain

To help address these symptoms, Jo took some probiotics in the morning and seemingly did all the right things, and yet, her symptoms would not resolve. She was going though ‘good’ phases, but then something would set off her digestive symptoms, which would then last for weeks at a time. It was very difficult for her to pinpoint the triggers.

Upon exploration of Jo’s symptoms, she shared that she had been experiencing bloating and abdominal pain that got progressively worse over the years and deteriorated further since her hysterectomy due to heavy painful periods and fibroids. The bloating was at its ‘best’ in the morning and gradually built up throughout the day, by the end of which she felt extremely bloated and uncomfortable. During her flair-ups that lasted for weeks at a time, she would go to bed with ‘belly aches’ and feeling uncomfortable. A nice evening out at a restaurant could also end in a disaster with explosive diarrhoea followed by increased bloating. The aggravated symptoms would take weeks to subside. This situation took the enjoyment out of food, as Jo knew that she would potentially be in pain later. Everything seemed to aggravate her symptoms and she was increasingly tolerating fewer foods.

Mental health has been a concern for Jo since giving birth to her second son and suffering from post-natal depression. Her IBS symptoms were already well-established at this point. She also experienced two nervous breakdowns, the last one being 4 years before our collaboration. She would go through bouts of depression, anxiety and generalised overthinking describing herself as a ‘worrier’.

Jo was in doubt if the timing of starting this health journey would be right due to a very busy work and personal life and an upcoming 2-week holiday in Florida only one month after our initial consultation. That said, Jo felt reassured following our conversation when we discussed that feeling better before her holiday was a possibility, allowing her to enjoy her holiday even more due to her improved symptoms.

What did we do?

Jo completed a comprehensive stool analysis which also indicated that SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) might be a possibility due to severely imbalanced gut bacteria and overgrowth of some specific bacterial strains such as Desulfovibrio piger. Jo opted to do to a SIBO breath test as she was keen to explore the causes of her symptoms once and for all. Its worth mentioning that up to 80% of people suffering with IBS have symptoms caused by SIBO.

stool test sample report
Sample Report

The comprehensive stool analysis revealed that apart of a severe imbalance of gut bacteria (dysbiosis), Jo had difficulty to digest proteins from food and a malabsorption of fats was present. Also, the immune system in her gut was triggered to a high level, potentially due to the Klebsiella bacterial strain which was present in very high numbers. Her SIBO test came back negative which was was reassuring, and allowed us to hone in on the following next steps.

  • A blend of FODMAP and a SIBO specific diet were helpful to calm down all the symptoms before proceeding to the next stage and dealing with the imbalanced gut bacteria.

  • We used antimicrobial herbs to kill off the Klebsiella strain overgrowth

  • While dealing with the overgrowth/imbalance of the gut bacteria we also ensured that we would nurture and support the beneficial bacterial strains by introducing a specific highly tolerable fibre alongside digestive enzymes to support all stages of digestion.

  • We worked on supporting her low nutrient status based on an in-depth assessment of her food diary and medical history.

  • Lifestyle recommendations with specific strategies focusing on sleep hygiene, relaxation, and stress management were also an integral part of Jo's protocol to support her mental health.

  • Jo enjoyed netball and gym sessions, and we put some specific strategies in place to support her energy levels and performance while working on gut health and overall health goals.

  • During this process Jo kept a Food & Mood journal which enabled me to give her direction and step in immediately when she experienced only mild symptoms in the initial stages of the protocol as opposed to a full-blown reaction.

Jo's results on a 3-month Full Support Package

Within a month, all of Jo's symptoms resolved!

She was very dedicated to the process and all the guidance that she took onboard was paying off. If she experienced a mild uneasiness in her abdomen mostly in the initial stages of the protocol, she would know what had caused it based on the assistance I provided.

  • Jo was symptom-free by the time she went on holiday to Florida and was able to fully enjoy her time away in company of good friends.

  • Her mental health soared to the point that after her holiday, she made a comment in her food diary that she was “happy, happy”. Upon questioning of that statement during our session, Jo shared with a beaming smile that that’s indeed how she felt and only one “happy” would not be able to express her true feelings.

  • Overall, she was more resilient and able to deal with life stressors.

  • In the process, Jo lost a stone and was happy that she reached the weight she felt most comfortable at.

  • The dryness and gritty feeling in her eyes was completely gone.

  • Jo's sleep improved as part of our work, and she was able to sleep through the night with only occasional disruptions due to some work or family-related stressors.

  • She experienced good energy levels throughout the day.

  • We reintroduced all the foods removed at the beginning and Jo experienced no reactions.

Read Jo's success story in her own words

“I had been suffering with bloating and stomach aches for years. I’d tried food allergy testing, eliminating food from my diet, but nothing worked and was resigned to the fact that this was something I had to live with which frequently made my life pretty miserable.

I started my journey with Irina after a seminar through work where The Natural Balance spoke about stomach, bowels issues and how they approach the problem with great results. Through desperation I approached them and started on a programme, although in the back of my mind I wasn’t convinced it would entirely cure me.

The first couple of weeks were tough adjusting to a diet after some initial tests diagnosed the cause behind my bloating and stomach pains. However, within a couple of weeks I started to see small wins and gained confidence in everything Irina was guiding me with.

8 weeks later my bloating and stomach pains were almost non-existent, and I could not believe it.

I am so grateful to Irina as living in constant discomfort has a massive impact on both your physical and mental health. Irina was always available to help and guide me with any questions or concerns. She was nothing short of amazing. I am now able to live my life pain and bloating free, not to mention I lost over a stone and have maintained with weight through a few small changes.

Please don’t hesitate to have a chat with these amazing people!”

If you would like to discuss anything you've read in this blog in relation to your own concerns around your health and relationship with food, then please book a call with Irina, or one of our other lovely specialists today.

Eating Disorder Therapist London

Irina Pollastri

Registered Nutritional Therapist, Health Coach,

Eating Disorder and Obesity Specialist


Irina has a special interest in eating disorders and disordered eating, such as binge eating, bulimia, chronic dieting, restrictive eating, emotional eating, and poor relationship with food in general. To provide support in these areas and any co-occurring health conditions, Irina offers a personalised approach, which combines nutritional, behavioural, and psychological interventions.

I am not attempting to prevent, treat or cure any physical, mental or emotional issues. Do not disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical advice because of information you have read on this website. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your primary health care provider.

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