Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by recurrent irritation and inflammation of the large intestine, resulting in abdominal bloating and pain that is relieved by bowel movements. IBS affects 15% of the population and accounts for almost 50% of all referrals to GI specialists.
IBS is a blanket term to describe a group of symptoms for which the cause has not yet been found. Read on to discover the many possible underlying causes of IBS.
Symptoms can include:
• Cramp-like pain in the middle or to one side of the lower abdomen
• Pain usually relieved with bowel movements
• Loose or more frequent painful bowel movements
• Diarrhea or constipation, often alternating
• Symptoms of upset stomach: flatulence, nausea and loss of appetite
• Headache and/or backache
• Rectal pain
• Varying degrees of anxiety or depression
• Excessive secretion of colonic mucus
There are many underlying causes of IBS that can include:
• Food allergies are one of the most common causes of IBS. Approximately two-thirds of patients with IBS have at least one food allergy. Most common allergens are wheat and dairy products.
• Antacids decrease hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for proper digestion and also destroys unfriendly or pathogenic bacteria in the stomach.
• Stress disrupts the secretion of the body’s digestive factors: hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes.
• An imbalance in the “good” bacteria in the gut. Antibiotics wipe out the friendly as well as unfriendly bacteria which can disrupt normal gut ecology.
• Response to dietary factors that interfere with digestion, such as excessive consumption of tea, coffee, carbonated beverages and simple sugars.
• A diet high in refined sugar quickly raises blood sugar levels, causing a sharp decrease in intestinal peristalsis – the rhythmic contractions of the intestine that propel food through the digestive tract.
• A poor diet can greatly increase the symptoms of IBS. Foods such as meat, saturated fat, trans fats, sugars and refined carbohydrates are all low in factors that promote gut health.
• Excess alcohol consumption is an irritant that increases gut permeability to toxins and potentially allergenic foods. In addition, alcohol increases the adrenal glands secretion of stress hormones, including cortisol, which disrupt digestive secretions.
• Candida, an overgrowth of yeast can occur in the body and cause IBS. Elimination of Candida is essential to reverse the IBS.
• A lack of digestive enzymes can trigger IBS symptoms especially gas and bloating.
Discovering the underlying cause of IBS is the first step in full recovery from this condition.
- Get tested. Consider IgG Food Allergy Testing as a starting point in discovering the cause. This type of testing is available through Dr Cobi. Please contact our office for more information.
- Do an elimination diet. For a period of 21 days avoid the following foods: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, shellfish, peanuts, beef, pork and sugar. After 21 days slowly re introduce the foods back in one at a time to determine which food is causing the IBS issues.
- Increase your fiber. A blend of soluble and insoluble fiber helps to support healthy intestinal transit time and bowel regularity and also offers excellent support for those with occasional constipation and/ or diarrhea. Dr Cobi’s Top Picks: Fibermend and Metafiber.
- Build your good bacteria. Probiotics help to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora or good bacteria and is designed to provide intestinal support on multiple levels. Dr Cobi’s Top Picks: Ultra Flora Balance and HMF IBS.
- Boost your enzymes. Digestive enzymes help to aid in overall digestion. Individuals who may be low in hydrochloric acid production and have malabsorption of protein, carbohydrates, and fats often suffer from chronic gas and bloating. Digestive enzymes work very quickly at eliminating these symptoms. Dr Cobi’s Top Picks: BPP Enzymes and GI Digest.
- Take Peppermint Oil. According to a 2007 study done in Italy over a four-week period, participants taking peppermint oil capsules experienced a 75% reduction in their IBS symptoms. Peppermint oil is a natural supplement traditionally used to treat digestive problems. It contains menthol, a chemical that has been found to relax muscles in spasm in the GI tract. It may help with abdominal pain, gas, bloating and constipation.
(Book an appointment with Dr Cobi for an individual treatment plan utilizing testing procedures, effective supplements and specialized dietary approaches such as a low FODMAP diet and more. For more information, contact our office).