Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the United States. Chances are, you or someone you know has it. Although, it’s not a disease most of us like to talk about, since the symptoms are so embarrassing and unpleasant, it’s at the top of your mind even if you aren’t comfortable mentioning it to a health care provider.
IBS is an abnormal condition of the intestinal tract. People suffering from IBS complain of the following common symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating and gassiness
- Chronic (if not intermittent) abdominal pain and discomfort
- Irregular bowels movements alternating from constipation and diarrhea on a spectrum of more than three per day or less than three per week
- Difficulty passing stools, a feeling of urgency to do so, and feelings of the bowel movement being “incomplete”
- Malformed stools that tend to be either hard and lumpy or loose and watery.
While the root cause of IBS has not yet been identified, the symptoms can be debilitating and are triggered by diet and stress.
What Causes IBS?
IBS has a few important contributing causes. The most predominate finding is gut dysbiosis or an overgrowth of the unhealthy gut bacteria which produce methane and hydrogen gases. These bacteria and the gas they produce are thought to irritate the inside lining of the small and large intestine. When it irritates the nerves that control smooth muscle stimulation in the gut, called peristalsis, you can imagine that cramping, pains, and diarrhea or constipation result.
Yet there are other contributing factors besides just microbial dysbiosis that are important to know about. Traditionally IBS has been thought to be largely a brain-gut disorder, with many patients suffering gut symptoms along with psychological distress. Science now reveals there are other conditions inherent in IBS. We know that with most all patients suffering from IBS there are one or more of the following mechanisms involved:
- Decreased intestinal barrier function, also called leaky gut, and the resultant immune dysregulation that triggers allergies and inflammation of chronic disease.
- Intestinal lining hypersensitivity from neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that were formerly thought to be just in the brain, but now we know are more predominate in the gut.
- Bile acid malabsorption.
Therefore, the most successful treatments will be to improve the intestinal organisms through diet, prebiotics and probiotics.
How To Restore Your Biotic Balance
Among the more common natural remedies for irritable bowel syndrome is probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. That’s because an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut, also known as dysbiosis, can lead to irritable bowel syndrome. Nurturing your body and intestinal tract with probiotics can restore balance and help manage the disease.
Since your intestinal tract is ground zero for this disease, you need to cultivate a healthful environment every day, and that means plenty of probiotics. These good bacteria can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, and especially in a high-quality probiotic supplement. For best results, choose a probiotic supplement that contains at least five but preferably more strains of beneficial bacteria. The most commonly used organisms are species from Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. A diet low in sugar and processed foods and high in natural, whole foods will help support good bacteria in the gut and the benefits of the probiotics.
Vitamin D and IBS
A recent study found that people with irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. They also found that vitamin D supplements can ease IBS symptoms. After looking at these studies, they concluded that people with irritable bowel syndrome were significantly more like to have low vitamin D levels than the general population. In fact, one of the studies they examined found that 82 percent of IBS sufferers had low vitamin D levels.
These researchers also concluded that vitamin D supplements reduced IBS symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
Considering most IBS sufferers struggle to find a successful treatment for their problem, this is big news. A cheap, highly available supplement could be the solution!
Let’s look at how the brain-to-gut and gut-to-brain neurotransmitters, the gut brain axis, can be helped with the food we eat. A few groups of foods are specifically beneficial for the gut-brain axis. Here are some of the most important ones:
- Omega-3 fats: These fats are found in oily fish and also in high quantities in the human brain. Studies in humans and animals show that omega 3’s can increase good bacteria in the gut and reduce risk of brain disorders.
- Fermented foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and cheese all contain healthy microbes such as lactic acid bacteria. Fermented foods have been shown to alter brain activity.
- High-fiber foods: Whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables all contain prebiotic fibers that are good for your gut bacteria. Prebiotics can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in humans.
- Polyphenol-rich foods: Cocoa, green tea, olive oil and coffee all contain polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that are digested by your gut bacteria. Polyphenols increase healthy gut bacteria and may improve cognition.
- Tryptophan-rich foods: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Foods that are high in tryptophan include turkey, eggs and cheese.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
The most common offending foods that cause IBS are dairy, grains, gluten found in rye, wheat and barley, legumes, beans, fried and processed foods, and cruciferous vegetables.
Another great product to restore your gut health is GI Essentials. G.I. Essentials is the most advanced formula on the market today for optimal gastro-intestinal health. It has been designed to support gut health, soothe the digestive tract lining, promote regularity, microbial balance and support proper immune function.
If you or someone you know suffers from the debilitating symptoms of IBS, Call Doctor’s Nutrition Today at
1-800-824-0194 and talk to us about what we can do for you to regain your gut health. Be sure and ask about GI Essentials, probiotics and vitamin D. Also ask us about blood tests we can do to determine the health of your gut.
- Low vitamin D levels associated with IBS — Medical News Today. Retrieved January 25, 2018.