IBS

  I am not a doctor – so I can’t help you with any medical advises. For these you will need to consult your doctor. But you will find (on the bottom of each page) medical articles on which I based my information. My advise is that after you read the information I presented – to print the references and have a discussion with your doctor.

  While I can’t help you medically, I am a certified Life Coach and Professional Engineer (PEng). So I can counsel and encourage you in taking the best decisions in your personal life.

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  Please read also the Lectins, the Evil Protein. It will explain certain facts about why you have gut issues and weight gain.

  I found only right that after writing about gut health and inflammation, the next topic will be IBS.

  So, what is IBS? According to Mayo Clinic:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term. Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

  The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A bloated feeling
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool

  Doctors don’t know the exact cause of IBS. Here is the medical theory: “The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools. Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.”

   Again, according with the medical community, common triggers include:

  • Foods. The role of food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome is not yet clearly understood, but many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. A wide range of foods has been implicated — chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol to name a few.
  • Stress. Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress, such as finals week or the first weeks on a new job. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them.
  • Hormones. Because women are twice as likely to have IBS, researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods.
  • Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth), can trigger IBS.

  And while all this is correct. Beyond a cause there is a root of this disease.

  Conventional wisdom has always held that there is no inflammation seen in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But, cutting edge research has begun to find evidence of low-grade inflammation in digestive tract tissue in some IBS patients. Here are the things that you need to know in order to have an understanding of the role that inflammation may play in the development and maintenance of IBS.

  First let’s understand two definitions:

  • Mast cells: Mast cells are found in tissue all over the body. They are believed to play an important role in protecting the body from pathogens — outside agents, such as germs or viruses, that pose a threat to your health. It is thought that mast cells induce a rapid inflammatory response in response to a pathogen. It is thus not surprising that mast cells appear to be highly involved in what we commonly know as allergies.
  • Cytokines: I already touched on cytokines on the “Gut Health and Inflammation” page. But I am going a bit further in explaining their role here. So, again, cytokines are proteins that are released by mast cells and other cells associated with the immune response. It is thought that after the quick inflammatory reaction triggered by mast cells, a longer lasting inflammatory process occurs due to the release of certain kinds of cytokines more specifically inflammatory cytokines.

  In order to make easier to understand the correlations between inflammation and IBS let visualize this – the body gets infected by a nasty stomach virus (gastroenteritis). Mast cells react quickly, followed by cytokines, to fight back against the infection. The release of these substances causes abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea. In most cases, this inflammatory response is temporary. Once the body senses that the invader has been conquered, the inflammatory process closes down. The research appears to point to the possibility that this inflammatory process persists after the main infection is gone. And it is also entirely possible that there are some individuals who experience chronic low-grade inflammation without ever experiencing a clear-cut case of gastroenteritis. In any case, the continued activation of mast cells, even on a very mild basis, could contribute to the motility dysfunction that characterizes IBS. In addition, mast cells can be found very close to nerve cells in the intestines, perhaps contributing to ongoing pain and visceral hypersensitivity that is typical of IBS.

  Now if we look back at what can cause a chronic low-grade inflammation. Under “Gut Health and Inflammation” page I listed: Antibiotics and other medications like birth control and NSAIDs, diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods, diets low in fermentable fibers, “dietary” toxins and industrial seed oils, chronic stress, chronic infections. Is easy to imagine how our modern lifestyle is keeping us (and our gut) in a permanent state of low-grade inflammation. A lot of foods in our supermarkets are very hard for our gut to digest, if not really impossible to digest. Not only that they don’t give us any nutrients. But our gut needs to do extra work to eliminate them from our body. They are just keeping our gut in a continues state of trying to digest or trying to eliminate.

  You may ask yourself: if most of the supermarket foods are not recommended for our gut then what we are suppose to eat? As I stated in the “Paleo Diet” page “Looking at a bit of scientific background. The modern human gene pool has changed little over the last 50,000 years or so, having been developed over the previous one or two million years. Darwins’ concept of Natural Selection suggests that organisms tend to thrive if they adhere to conditions present during their evolutionary development. In other words, an organism is adapted over time to thrive in certain environments, but not others. The Agricultural Revolution (starting about 10,000 years ago) and the Industrial Revolution (onset a couple centuries ago) have produced an environment and food supply vastly different from that of our Paleolithic ancestors, different from what Homo sapiens were thriving in for hundreds of thousands of years.”

  If we take in consideration both the medical and anthropological facts is far fetched to believe that with our modern lives we are unknowingly creating a chronic low-grade inflammation in our bodies that on long run leads not only to IBS – but research (that I listed under “Paleo Diet” page references) shows that is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and some cancers?

  As I stated on the “Home” page – I created this site to help others with the knowledge that I found during my own journey to get healthy and better. Long ago I was diagnosed with IBS (and fibromyalgia … and one doctor got the far to suggest chronic fatigue – in the end proved to be myasthenia gravis that I will talk about it later). And except being given some medication – I didn’t get any advice on what may have got me to that point. That is when I start my journey to get my health back. Took a lot of years and a lot of reading through the medical, yes medical research. And this site came to life in a effort to try to help others to avoid some of my mistakes.

  So, after all what are foods that our body can digest easily. Here is a very comprehensive list of such foods. And while “Paleo” diet is against any grains, I tried some of them (or as a side in a restaurant or while craving bread and going for few slices of gluten free bread) and find out that rice, quinoa and tapioca don’t give me any tummy troubles. As about the rest of the list – I tried to a time or another almost all the foods and I never had a major problem. I will say though that I found out that eating a bit more of fresh fruits and vegetables will get me in trouble – that is how I found out that I may have also a fructose and sucrose sensitivity. So, in the end, you may need to do your own trials. Also, I am sure that once my gut heals enough there will not be any more issues with fruits and vegetables – as lately when I go in a salad binge for a day or two, nothing happens.

  But, back to IBS. From the moment I switch my foods to the ones listed under the “Paleo Diet” I forgot what IBS is. And even more I forgot what fibromyalgia is. I found out that I was gluten sensitive and a lot of the joint pain was trigger by gluten.

  But, I went beyond that. I had a nagging question. Why gluten was not such a big issue until my 30s? What happened to make me sensitive when I didn’t have any problems until my late 20s. Didn’t feel that “getting older” was the right answer. So, I continue to search for answers. At this point I can say that even if I may not have all my aswers, at least I found a vast majority of them. Please, check what I wrote under “Gut Health and Inflammation” page. I practically invited this sensitivity and other health issues in my life unknowingly. I took quite enough ibuprofen and now there is research that in itself it can trigger gluten sensitivity.

  So, I was able to heal – yes, I really believe that I healed – my IBS by cleaning up my food choices. And the first step was going Paleo. Now I went even further and I follow a Keto diet that helped me to lose weight also. But I recommend to first start only to go Paleo until you heal your gut – may take as little as one year and as long as ten or more years. Depends how much damage you did to your gut. Now I can enjoy even a cup of coffee without thinking about IBS. But I didn’t drink nothing stronger that a black tea for more than ten years fearing a IBS flare-up.

  But, let’s see what is one of the major factors on IBS. Please continue reading the “SIBO” page.


References:
1. Barbara, G., De Giorgio, R., Stangellini, V., Cremon, C. & Corinaldesi, R. Gut 2002 51:i41-i44 A role for inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome?
2. Delvaux, M. Gut 2002 51:i61-i67 Role of visceral sensitivity in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome
3. Liebregts, T., Birgit, A., Bredack, C., Roth, A., Heinzel, S., Lester, S., Downie-Doyle, S., Smith, E., Drew, P., Talley, N. & Holtmann, G. Gastroenterology 2007 132:913-920 Immune Activation in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome