Having gastric discomfort is never a pleasant experience and we have all experienced constipation or diarrhea at some time in our lives. With our clientele, Constipation and diarrhea are two commonly seen gastric symptoms However, if one is experiencing ongoing gastric issues such as chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, or a constant case of both, chances are, one may be experiencing IBS.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome, more commonly known as IBS, is a chronic disorder characterized by various gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Common types of IBS are: IBS-D, IBS-C, and IBS-M.
IBS-D: Gastric issue characterized by chronic diarrhea
IBS-C: Gastric issue characterized by chronic constipation
IBS-M: Gastric issue characterized by alternating chronic diarrhea with chronic constipation
Common IBS symptoms:
Diarrhea, constipation, alternating diarrhea and constipation
Mucus in bowel movements
– Feeling as though a bowel movement is incomplete
– Mild or severe abdominal pain, discomfort or cramping that usually goes away after a bowel movement (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018)
Some conventional treatments may include increasing fiber intake, stress reduction, counseling, and various medications. Some examples of medications include antispasmodics, antidiarrheal agents, laxatives, and antidepressants (Gaby, 2011).
A Functional Approach/Getting to the Route Cause:
While conventional treatments may be somewhat helpful, many patients only obtain temporary relief from these treatments. This is due to the fact that the conventional treatments temporarily target the symptoms, rather than solving the underlying issues. Where IBS is concerned, the underlying issue is fairly often diet-related, a factor in which most conventional health care practitioners unfortunately overlook.
Treating IBS is more than just stopping symptoms from being present in our clients. It also involves looking into a client’s medical history and metabolic levels and finding the route cause of the IBS. Some factors that contribute to IBS in our clients are poor diets, candidiasis, oral thrush, immunodeficiency, or anyone who may have taken antibiotics (Gaby, 2011).
Diet and IBS: Figuring out a proper diet, may be crucial for improving a sufferer of IBS. A patient with a food allergy/food intolerance may experience worse IBS symptoms due to the association between their allergies and IBS (Gaby, 2011) .
Candidiasis: IBS is one of the most common symptoms of patients with Candidiasis, a fungal infection caused by yeast. Often times, people who commonly experience these reoccurring infections, will experience IBS symptoms relating to the underlying issue of their Candidiasis (Gaby, 2011) .
Oral Thrush: Oral Thrush is a condition in which the fungus accumulates in the mouth. Studies have shown a correlation of this overgrown yeast with people also experiencing IBS.
Immunodeficiency: Having immunodeficiencies can prevent your body from fighting infections and diseases and increase the likelihood of getting them. People with autoimmune diseases may experience similar symptoms to IBS. It is important to recognize whether or not a patient has an autoimmune disease to understand why he/she is experiencing these IBS symptoms.
Antibiotics and IBS: IBS may also be associated with antibiotic use. Research suggests that antibiotics cause changes to the microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract (Bhattarai, Muniz Pedrogo, Kashyap, 2017). These changes may cause the gastrointestinal functions to work less effectively resulting in altered intestinal motility, and visceral hypersensitivity often seen in patients with IBS (Ringel & Maharshak, 2013). Instead of giving a patient extreme laxatives or antidiarrheal medications to cure their IBS caused by antibiotics, by realizing this route cause, we can provide them with probiotic alternatives to safely address the underlying issue.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth- SIBO
Most of the bacteria in our gut resides in our large intestine. If for some reason, larger numbers of bacteria start to thrive in the small intestine, it creates havoc for digestion and pain, bloating, and elimination issues. This has to be identified and treated with diet and antimicrobials or specific antibiotics.
Recognizing how these other issues can cause IBS will help us get to the root cause so that we may better understand and help resolve our client’s syndrome.
Helpful tips for improving your IBS (Note: may vary from patient to patient) :
- Chew food thoroughly: When we don’t breakdown our food in our mouth when we first bite into it, it gives our stomach much more digestive work to do. When our stomach is busy digesting large amounts of food, it is harder for it to focus on the other bodily functions, therefore, causing IBS symptoms to occur (Virgin, 2012).
- Avoid specific food items: If you are experiencing IBS, some specific ingredients you should avoid are refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, food additives, and caffeine
- Avoid foods you are intolerant to: Some common food intolerances are Lactose, Fructose, and Sucrose
- Increase or Decrease Fiber intake: Some people with IBS may experience relief with an increase in fiber while others may experience worse symptoms. It is important to be self-aware of how your foods are making you feel.
- Other treatments: Recent studies have shown several other natural treatments being beneficial to relieving symptoms of IBS. Peppermint oil, Melatonin, and Probiotics have all been effective in the functional approach to helping IBS patients. (Gaby, 2011)
Gaby, A., M.D. (2011). Gastroenterology: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In Nutritional medicine (pp. 435-439). Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Publishing, Harvard Health. (2018, December). Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Retrieved August 24, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-a-to-z
Ringel, Y., & Maharshak, N. (2013). Intestinal microbiota and immune function in the pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 305(8). doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00207.2012
Virgin, J., CNS. (2012). The Virgin diet: Drop 7 foods, lose 7 pounds, just 7 days. NY, NY: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Yogesh Bhattarai, David A. Muniz Pedrogo, Purna C. Kashyap. Irritable bowel syndrome: a gut microbiota-related disorder? American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2017; 312 (1): G52 DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00338.2016
Submitted by Shoshana Levine, student and intern at D-Signed Nutriton