Hayley Tamaddon thanks fans for support as Jasper is in hospital

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In her latest show, the actress is hosting a dinner party, where she has to guess which one of the special guests is an actual distant relative, but when the actress took part in ITV’s The Junk Food Experiment back in 2019, symptoms of her irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) became so severe that she was advised by medical professionals to quit the show. During the experiment, Tamaddon, and other stars doubled their daily calorie intake to 4,000 by gorging on Britain’s three most popular take-aways: Burgers, pizza and fried chicken.

Speaking about why she wanted to take part in the 21-day experiment, which was guided by Dr Michael Mosley, Tamaddon said: “I’m quite partial to a little bit of fast food, and used to eat quite a lot of it before I was diagnosed with severe irritable bowel syndrome [IBS].

“I was diagnosed a few years ago after I ended up in hospital numerous times in extreme pain. Since then, my diet has completely changed and it’s worked wonders.

“When this came up I thought, maybe if I test myself like a guinea pig it might help someone else with IBS. Weirdly, I was looking forward to seeing what would happen to my insides!”

However, despite her optimism, two weeks in Tamaddon was left in “agony” after being told that the damage the junk food might be doing may not be “reversible”.

“It’s a massive commitment. I love fast food but I wasn’t anticipating how much we’d have to eat to make the experiment work,” Tamaddon went on to explain.

“In my first week I ate 2500 calories of fried chicken a day. It was tougher than I thought it would be.

“I had heart palpitations, very little energy and my tummy was in agony. The doctor noticed my statistics started to change. Basically that’s where it all went downhill for me!”

“I hadn’t been able to get enough water into my system, because what I was putting in was coming out the other end too quickly.

“I love to box and I have a trainer. So before I did this experiment my fitness was great. Then I ate fried chicken for a week and everything changed.”

When asked what she learnt about IBS and the importance of diet after taking part in the series, the actress went on to say: “It’s really made me think about certain things I eat.

“For my part, I hope it will help people with IBS. If you suffer tummy issues after eating, go to the doctor and get checked.

“Maybe you’re gluten intolerant or have IBS. Everyone is different. You don’t need to be in pain. There isn’t a cure but you can control it.”

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The NHS explains that IBS is a common condition that affects the digestive system and can cause multiple uncomfortable symptoms.

Once diagnosed it is a lifelong condition, with individuals experience the following main symptoms:

  • Stomach pain or cramps – usually worse after eating and better after doing a poo
  • Bloating – your tummy may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
  • Diarrhoea – you may have watery poo and sometimes need to poo suddenly
  • Constipation – you may strain when pooing and feel like you cannot empty your bowels fully.

Some other symptoms that can be triggered by IBS include flatulence, tiredness and a lack of energy, nausea, backache and bowel incontinence.

Currently the exact cause of IBS is unknown, but experts believe that it may be linked to a combination of factors. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that experts think problems with brain-gut interaction may affect how your body works, thus causing IBS symptoms.

For example, in some people with IBS, food may move too slowly or too quickly through the digestive tract, causing changes in bowel movements. Whereas other research has suggested that genetic factors may make some individuals more at risk of developing IBS.

In order to help relieve symptoms of IBS, the NHS says that there are “lots of things” individuals can do. In order to ease bloating, cramps and farting the health body recommends the following:

  • Eat oats (such as porridge) regularly
  • Eat up to one tablespoon of linseeds (whole or ground) a day
  • Avoid foods that are hard to digest (like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beans, onions and dried fruit)
  • Avoid products containing a sweetener called sorbitol
  • Ask a pharmacist about medicines that can help, like Buscopan or peppermint oil.

In addition, in order to help reduce diarrhoea, individuals should try:

  • Cutting down on high-fibre foods like wholegrain foods (such as brown bread and brown rice), nuts and seeds
  • Avoid products containing a sweetener called sorbitol
  • Ask a pharmacist about medicines that can help, like Imodium (loperamide).

Dieticians may also recommend a low FODMAP diet, which involves avoiding foods that are not easily broken down by the gut including some fruits and vegetables, milk and wheat products.

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