What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the name given to a longstanding illness consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel symptoms that cannot be explained by any other disease.
What are the Symptoms of IBS?
Symptoms can include:
· Abdominal cramps, often relieved by going to the toilet –
Many people with IBS describe the pain as a spasm or colic. The severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe, both from person to person, and from time to time in the same person.
· Frustrated defaecation (needing to go to the toilet but not being able to)
Other Symptoms which may occur include:
· Feeling sick (nausea).
· Poor appetite.
· Muscle pains.
· Feeling quickly full after eating.
· Bladder symptoms (an associated irritable bladder)
How common a problem is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. In fact, studies estimate that 8 million people in the UK suffer with IBS and up to 1 in 5 people suffer with IBS at some point in their lives.
IBS is a group of symptoms, including abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel movement patterns. Doctors call IBS a “functional gastrointestinal disorder.” So, in IBS, the function of the gut is upset, but all parts of the gut look normal, even when looked at under a microscope.
IBS can affect anyone at any age, but it commonly first develops in young adults. IBS is slightly more common in women than it is in men. For some people the symptoms are mild and occasional, others have long periods of unpleasant symptoms.
IBS isn’t just uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing,it is a sign that something is not right with your gut. We also know that treating the symptoms while leaving the underlying cause untreated can lead to even more serious problems, including an autoimmune disease.
So what are the underlying root causes of IBS?
Unfortunately there isn’t one specific answer. It really depends on the individual. Whilst it isn’t officially classified as an autoimmune disease, it shares some of the same risk factors of autoimmunity, such as leaky gut, dietary factors, toxins, infections, and stress, as well as an underlying inflammatory condition.
The latest research suggests however, that there are in most cases 6 main underlying causes.
These are as follows:
1. Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome, more properly known as increased intestinal permeability, refers to a state in the body in which the tight junctions of the epithelial cells that line the digestive tract are damaged and/or altered and therefore do not provide the tight barrier function that they were designed for.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract serves as a barrier that prevents undigested food particles, microbes, toxins, and other undesirable substances from entering the body through the bloodstream.
However, when the cells lining the intestinal wall become damaged, they break apart. This then results in these substances “leaking” into the body. The immune system sees these as “foreign bodies” and launches an attack to get rid of the invaders. This then creates an in inflammation response in the body.
It is the increased permeabiltity, as well as the role of inflammation in IBS, that may account for many of the extra-intestinal symptoms experienced by many IBS patients. This may come as a great relief to those of you who have had those symptoms dismissed or minimized in the past.
A number of studies carried out in the US have shown a link between IBS and leaky gut.
2. Candida Overgrowth.
Candida produces symptoms that often get diagnosed as IBS. These include things like bloating, constipation, wind, diarrhoea. Candida or yeast overgrowth occurs as a result of the body becoming too acid.
This is caused by a diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods, which creates the
perfect environment for Candida growth to get out of hand.
You can do a simple test at home to see if Candida overgrowth is an issue for you.
This is the Spit Test. Whilst it is not 100% foolproof it does give a very good indication. Alternatively, you can ask your doctor to test you for Candida.
SPIT TEST INSTRUCTIONS
Take a tumbler that it is a quarter full with filtered water up to bed with you at night.
In the morning, when you first wake up and before you drink anything or brush your teeth, take a mouthful of the water.
Give the water a good swill round in your mouth and then spit it out back into the glass.
Leave it for about 5 minutes and then looking at the glass from the side check to see if you can see tails or strings hanging down from the top of the water as in the diagram.
To get the Candida overgrowth under control and to fix a leaky gut a 4R approach is required.
This is provided in The Ecstatic Gut Health Restorer Programme™ . The programme is designed to make this process as simple as possible so that you can significantly improve your health.
3. Food Allergies or Sensitivities
Typically food allergies or sensitivities result in symptoms such as bloating, wind, stomach pain, and changes in stool frequency and consistency similar to the symptoms of IBS.
Food sensitivities can take up to 72 hours to show up and this can make it difficult to pin point the food that is the cause of the problem. The most common food allergies are to gluten, dairy, peanuts, corn, soya and eggs. These can irritate the bowel and cause IBS type symptoms.
The best way to go about identifying which foods might be a problem is to completely eliminate all the common ones listed above and then slowly introduce each one back into your diet just one at a time. Allow at least a week for you to assess the impact of bringing each food back into your diet.
4. SIBO – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO occurs when the bacteria in your gut gets out of balance and overgrow. In one study, nearly 80% of people with IBS were found to have SIBO. When the SIBO was treated, nearly half of the patients experienced improvement in their IBS.
The majority of our gut bacteria should be in the colon. When the bacteria migrate backwards into the small bowel or when there is low stomach acid or poor pancreatic enzyme production, bacteria in the small bowel can overgrow and cause symptoms, such as diarrhoea, gas, or bloating.
You can ask your doctor to order a SIBO breath test if you feel that this might be a factor for you.
Many people with IBS find that their symptoms get worse when they are stressed.
There have been a number of studies that have shown that there is a link between stress and IBS. You may not realise this, but your brain and your gut are connected. This is a two way connection. Your brain sends signals to your gut, but your gut produces key neurotransmitters that your brain uses to regulate mood.
Neurotransmitters and Serotonin
What you might not know is that about 80 to 90 percent of the human body’s total serotonin is found in specialized cells in our guts, not in our brains. In fact, serotonin was tied to food long before it became an important mood hormone. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep. So if there are issues in your gut, then it can cause you to experience increased stress levels. Also, what you eat affects your mood.
When you are suffering with IBS it will be important to manage your stress levels by practicing meditation, relaxation and mindfulness techniques, as well as ensuring a healthy level of exercise. You can find free meditations here.
Parasites, are another cause of IBS symptoms and they can cause diarrhoea, wind, constipation, bloating, cramps, nausea, poor digestion, fatigue, muscle aches, bleeding, rectal itching, and abdominal pain. One thing parasites can’t do is live without you. You provide them living space and food, but unlike friendly bacteria, parasites do nothing for you in return. They only act against you.
They are more common than you would believe and they are not just a Third World problem. Most parasites are found in the digestive tract.
Parasites damage the body in a number of ways, by absorbing nutrients that you need and by directly damaging your digestive tract; and, if they are capable of migrating, possibly damaging other areas of your body as well.
If a parasite is contributing to your IBS, there are prescription medications specific to certain species of parasites that can be used.