Steph McGovern reveals health reason she turned down I'm A Celebrity – what is IBS?

Stock image of Steph McGovern on the red carpet in May 2022. She has revealed she is living with IBS. (Getty Images)
Steph McGovern had revealed she has turned down appearing on I'm A Celebrity because of the health condition IBS. (Getty Images)

Steph McGovern has revealed she has been forced to turn down the opportunity to appear on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here because she suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The TV presenter, 40, says she's been asked several times to take part in the popular ITV show but living with the health condition has prevented her from agreeing to be a contestant.

The Steph's Packed Lunch host explains she has concerns about how the jungle diet, which typically consists of rice and beans, would impact her body.

While it isn't the creepy crawlies or the infamous bushtucker trials that put the star off, it is the worry that consuming certain foods might negatively impact her bodily functions.

“I’m not scared about eating things,” she tells Entertainment Daily. “My main worry is about would be how my body would react.

“I’ve also got IBS so I’d be scared that if I ate something that disagreed with me I’d probably end up [bleep]ing myself on TV.

“It’s not mentally how I’d deal with it, but more physically how my body would work,” she adds.

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Stock image of Steph McGovern on the red carpet in April 2022. (Getty Images)
Steph McGovern has previously opened up about living with IBS. (Getty Images)

It isn't the first time McGovern has discussed having IBS, after previously revealing how she has learnt to cope with the condition since being diagnosed as a teenager.

"I’ve had IBS for as long as I can remember, but I just assumed it was one of those things you either have or you don’t have and there isn’t any cure," she told The Mirror. "So for a long time, I just accepted it. I used to get awful cramps and run to the loo.

"Then I did a show for the BBC called Easy Ways To Live Well and I discovered my gut was in the worst third of the population. I started to adapt my diet but then I fell pregnant with my little girl and couldn’t do that. So now I’ve started to focus on my gut health again and it’s changed my life."

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What is IBS?

According to the NHS, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system.

The NHS estimates that around 13 million people are living with the condition in the UK.

Watch: Kerry Katona reveals she has been diagnosed with IBS

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Typical symptoms of the condition include stomach pains or cramps after eating, which may be relieved by opening your bowels; bloating; your stomach feeling swollen and you may notice this after certain foods; along with diarrhoea or constipation.

"These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time," the NHS adds.

It is also worth noting that the symptoms of IBS can be similar to a number of other conditions, so it is always worth seeking medical advice if you are concerned.

“Symptoms that are unlikely to be IBS and need further investigation include weight loss, appetite loss, blood in the stool and severe, acute pain," explains Dr Angela Rai, GP at The London General Practice.

"Other causes of stomach pains include gallstones which may present with severe upper or right-sided abdominal pain; gastro-oesophageal reflux which may present with indigestion type symptoms; appendicitis which can give sudden severe lower right-sided abdominal pain and may be associated with fever.

"Any serious symptoms need urgent medical attention," she adds.

IBS impacts around 13 million people in the UK. (Getty Images)
IBS impacts around 13 million people in the UK. (Getty Images)

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How is IBS treated?

While there is no official cure for IBS, diet changes and medicines can often help control the symptoms.

"If you’re diagnosed with IBS by your GP, they’re likely to recommend things like exercise, suggest peppermint oil or perhaps offer medicines to help manage symptoms," explains Dr Brian Fisher, GP and clinical director at Evergreen Life.

Dr Fisher has put together some other suggestions for those who have been diagnosed with IBS to try, some of which your GP may help with.

  • Identifying what can help you de-stress. Examples may include mindfulness, breath work, gardening, knitting and talking with friends.

  • Testing for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which can cause a variety of digestive and non-digestive symptoms.

  • Comprehensive microbiome stool testing to identify gut microbiome imbalances and help identify if specific strains of probiotics would be helpful.

  • Chewing your food and eating slowly.

  • Trying to avoid: wheat, gluten, grains, sugar, dairy, sugary fruits, legumes – as a trial to see if it helps.

  • Considering if you’re vitamin B12-deficient. SIBO can cause a deficiency in vitamin B12, so if you’re experiencing SIBO symptoms or you’ve been diagnosed with SIBO, you might also have B12 deficiency, so it might be worth getting a test.

  • Taking a blood test to check your vitamin D level, as emerging evidence suggests, for some people, taking vitamin D supplements may help but it isn’t guaranteed as it’ll depend on the root cause of your symptoms.

"IBS is very individual, so not all these suggestions may help; they simply offer avenues to explore," Dr Fisher adds. "

The goal will always be to understand the reason for your symptoms, and then you can focus on working on that perhaps with your GP or another health practitioner."

Dr Rai suggests keeping a diary might help to keep track of your IBS symptoms.

“To try to manage IBS symptoms, it is useful to keep a diary to see what you eat and what may be triggering your symptoms," she explains. "Reducing fatty, processed and spiced food, alcohol, and caffeine may also help.

"If your symptoms persist see your GP. Stomach pains can occur for many reasons. Seeing your GP can help with diagnosis and reassure you if you are worried.”

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