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Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS

A Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as spastic colon or irritable colon is a disorder which comes with abdominal pain and cramping, as well as variations in movements of the bowel. (1) There are a variety of reasons for which might cause IBS, but a specific cause has not yet been discovered, (2) (3) only that there are certain correlations between specific conditions and irritable bowel syndrome. The main theory driving many of these symptoms is that some people who suffer from IBS have a very sensitive colon that can react badly to certain foods and stress; (4) thus an appropriate diet and a healthy lifestyle are key to managing irritable bowel syndrome. It’s also possible that the immune system is involved in the process if it has to deal with some sort of an infection. (5)

The colon is responsible for the absorption and regulation of fluids with its lining, called the epithelium. (6) This lining is affected by both the immune and nervous systems. Normally, the epithelium works well, but if the contents of the colon are moving too quickly, then it can lose its ability to absorb fluids. (7) This can mean that there is too much fluid in the stool. However, there are people whose colon movement is too slow, causing extra fluids to be drained from the feces and resulting in constipation. (8)

Causes of IBS

It’s also possible that some certain foods or stress that would otherwise not bother most people can cause a person’s colon to respond strongly. There isn’t really a list of foods, because everybody’s metabolism is different. For some people, it can be caused by too much fiber, for others too much spices, still others too much carbohydrates and yet others too much fat or protein. (9) The stimuli vary so much that the only way to truly identify what causes IBS symptoms is to experiment with different foods until a good diet is found. This is not usually a problem as irritable bowel syndrome is in no way life-threatening, it is just discomforting. (10)

Another cofactor in the irritable bowel syndrome phenomenon is the neurotransmitter called serotonin. (11) Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain which can deliver messages from one part of the body to another and in the case of the gastrointestinal tract (12)  (where 95% of the neurotransmitter is found), (13) it is responsible largely for passing on information gained from vision and smell to the brain. Serotonin is the messenger molecule that takes the information gained when you look and smell food to the rest of your digestive system to prepare itself for the incoming meal. (14) In some cases of irritable bowel syndrome, patients have a diminished receptor activity in their GI tract, which results in an increased pain receptors, thus more pain felt during cramps, spasms and bowel movement. (15)

Bacteria and IBS

Another issue with irritable bowel syndrome is that it could be due to some sort of a bacterial imbalance and subsequent infection. (16) Our bodies are the homes for millions of different species of bacteria that cohabit with us and all serve a particular function. (17) Managing populations of this bacteria is largely regulated by your diet and lifestyle, (18) so the more balanced and healthy your diet is and the more natural your lifestyle is, the more likely that your body will be able to regulate overgrowing populations of certain bacteria. (19) With some patients that have irritable bowel syndrome, it has been shown that some bacteria get out of control in the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system is unable to deal with them. (20) It has also been shown that some people who have had gastroenteritis and have had surgery in relation to that end up with a bacterial infection caused by the surgery; this is known as post-infectious IBS. (21)

Another one of the main causes of irritable bowel syndrome is that some people might be suffering from a mild form of celiac disease, which has symptoms similar to IBS. (22) This disease is that people cannot digest gluten, (23) which is a substance found in wheat, barley and rye. The immune system is thrown into chaos when gluten is digested and responds by damaging the small intestine. (24)

Diagnosing and treating IBS

If you have had abdominal pain or discomfort for at least 12 weeks out of a year, you need to think about some other points. (25) If the abdominal pain is relieved by a bowel movement, your bowel movements have decreased or increased in response to this movement and if your stool changes in the way it looks, then you should see a health care professional to determine if you have irritable bowel syndrome. (26) Additionally, women who have IBS sometimes have more symptoms during their menstrual periods, which has been postulated as having to do with reproductive hormones. (27) People with IBS also suffer from depression and anxiety issues which can make the symptoms worse, but having IBS can also cause stress and anxiety. (28)

While medication can be an important part of the procedure for relieving irritable bowel syndrome, (29) it is important to find out exactly what it is that causes the patient to suffer from the condition. The way this is determined is usually to keep some sort of a food journal and record information about the bowel movements, regarding constituency of the stool, time and frequency of bowel movements and the types of foods and how often they induce bowel movements. (30) When you go over this information with your health care professional, it’s easy to identify the foods that cause problems and to find substitutes for them to make sure you maintain your level of nutrition adequately. (31) (32) If a substitute for a certain food can not be found, or if you don’t like that food, then you can take vitamin and mineral supplements in prescribed daily amounts to make up for that nutrition. It is also important to be careful with over-the-counter medications such as laxatives and fiber supplements, because using them in amounts not discussed with your doctor can lead to further problems such as abdominal bloating, increased gas and also habit formation. (33)