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Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Is it really IBS?

Is it really IBS?

Abdominal cramping? Bloating? Pain after eating? Diarrhea and/or constipation? Do these symptoms sound familiar?

Are you wondering if you have IBS?

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. About 2 out of each 3 are women and of various ages, even children.

Now keep in mind that the diagnosis of IBS is what I call a “catch phrase” diagnosis or a diagnosis of exclusion. Meaning the doctor cannot find any form of Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s or Colitis and cannot attach your symptoms to a disease process so he labels you as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

So the question is posed “Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome really a condition at all, or is it just an erroneous diagnosis?” And if it is not a real condition then what else could it be?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating, especially after eating, and changes in bowel habit, which can switch from diarrhea to constipation. So let’s take a look at some underlying issues that could be the real culprit to these symptoms.

First on the list could be an issue of dysbiosis, an imbalance of your gut bacteria. Many of you have some level of education to the fact that we need a proper balance of our beneficial intestinal bacteria in order for our intestinal system to function normally. And yes, an imbalance of these bacteria can result in all of the symptoms associated with IBS. So could it be as easy as just taking a probiotic formula to help rebalance your gut flora? The answer is yes and no.

Yes, it certainly could be that taking a probiotic supplement and eating fermented foods could be the key to rebalancing your gut and eliminating those nasty symptoms. And no, if this imbalance has gone on so long as to work itself into a situation called SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. SIBO is an intrusion and overgrowth in the small intestine of the bacteria that is only suppose to be in the colon, or large intestine. In this instance, taking a probiotic supplement could cause an exacerbation of symptoms and this growth needs to be eliminated before introducing a probiotic. This can be done either conventionally with antibiotics (we all know the side effects there) or more naturally with herbal antimicrobials, such as grapefruit seed extract. Either way it is best to see an Integrative Medical Doctor who practices functional medicine if you suspect SIBO.

Another issue that could present itself as IBS is food sensitivities. Certain foods can greatly irritate your intestinal system and exhibit as pain after eating, bloating and diarrhea and/or constipation. The most common foods that we, as humans, are sensitive to are gluten, soy, dairy and grains. You might want to consider removing one group of these foods at a time and see if your symptoms tend to resolve. If so, BINGO!

And the last thing I want to mention within the scope of this newsletter is, the squeamish thought to most, Parasites! Yes your symptoms that you have been told is IBS could actually be intestinal parasites. More specifically one called Blastocystis Hominus, a microscopic organism that can take up residence in our digestive system. And guess what – this little bugger can give you the exact same symptoms as IBS – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. The thing is some doctors will not go so far as to test you for this and find it easier just to label you as having IBS. If you’ve been trying everything you can think of with no resolve of your symptoms it might warrant you getting a parasitic stool test.

So with all that in mind, you’re probably wondering what to do. Well here are some helpful suggestions:

•Get all gluten out of your diet, not just some…not just try, but get it all out. Commit to this for a single month and see how you feel. If you feel better you most likely have a sensitivity to gluten. Keep away from it.

•Try the same thing with dairy and see if there is any change in symptoms.

•Remove foods with added sugar from the diet. Cakes, cookies, sweets can increase IBS symptoms and contribute to an imbalanced gut environment.

•Introduce a probiotic supplement. Try a 30 to 50 Billion-culture count per capsule. If you have an increase in symptoms stop the probiotic and consult with a health practitioner in regards to testing and treatment for SIBO.

•Try an herbal parasitic cleanse to help the body rid itself of any nasty buggers within the intestinal system that may be contributing to your symptoms.

•Other supplements that may be helpful include L-glutamine, Omega- 3 and Digestive Enzymes.

If you would like more information, see me at Gulf Coast Nutrition or schedule an appointment today. 727-754-2900

Brenda Valen, BS, CNC, CNHP
Gulf Coast Nutrition