Approximately 60 million people worldwide suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms, painful and annoying, such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, gas and pain, disrupt their everyday life. But there are doctors telling patients that there is no cure, that everything is in their imagination or they are giving drugs that aggravate the problem.
Once in Medical schools, teachers have taught us that irritable bowel syndrome is a psychological condition. However, 21st century medical science proves that this perception is totally wrong.
Scientific research has highlighted many factors contributing to the onset of the syndrome. The inner lining of the bowel with the good microbe can be “disrupted” by anxiety, abuse of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, intestinal infections, low fiber diet and a lot of sugar and alcohol, among others. These agents activate an immune response that causes chaos in the intestinal nervous system, resulting in irritable bowel syndrome.
For the effective treatment of the syndrome, the underlying causes must be addressed and there lies the contribution of Functional Medicine.
In Functional Medicine, we know that a disease can have many causes or that a cause can contribute to the onset of many illnesses. If you have five people with irritable bowel syndrome, the causes may be different for each of them, so for each individual we focus on trying to get to the root of the disease.
Two of the biggest causes of irritable bowel are food allergies and excessive bacterial growth in the small intestine. There may be others, including the lack of digestive enzymes, gut pests, zinc or magnesium deficiency and heavy metal toxicity. That is why it becomes so important to individualize the treatment.
No to the “One size fits all” solution, as there are now different solutions and approaches depending on the underlying causes of irritable bowel syndrome.
Allergens or food sensitivities
A study published in the journal Gut found that the elimination of foods identified by food allergy tests (IgG antibodies) led to dramatic improvements in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Another article, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, clearly states that we must respect and recognize the role of allergies and inflammation that cause food to manifest the disease.
What other studies say in a few words and is that certain foods can irritate the intestine and the digestive system. These food sensitivities are not a real allergy, such as allergies in peanuts or shellfish, but a milder sensitivity that can cause terrible symptoms. Of the many common food sensitivities, gluten is probably the most widespread. Still, if your doctor tells you that your tests for gluten or celiac disease are normal, you can still have a serious reaction.
The dairy products containing proteins, such as casein and whey, can irritate and cause inflammation in the intestine, are another incriminating factor. And of course there are others, including soy, corn and eggs. Reactions to these foods can cause health problems more severe than simple bowel problems such as Obesity, Depression and Acne.
Imbalances in the intestine
The surface of the small intestine, where the food is absorbed, may be the size of a tennis court, but it hosts about 60% of your immune system. This complex gut-immune system is only a layer of cells that keeps all bacteria and “aggressive” food particles safely away. If this coating degrades, the immune system will be exposed to foreign particles of food, bacteria and other microbes.
In simple terms, your intestine’s microbial ecosystem must be healthy in order for you to be healthy. When there is a bacterial imbalance in your intestine, ie the pathogens are more than healthy bacteria, you get sick.
Imbalances in the intestinal ecosystem that can cause or aggravate irritable bowel syndrome include leakages in the intestine, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and yeast overgrowth.
While the approaches to determining these and other bowel issues usually become separate, the “key” to reversing them is “restarting” the bowel, getting rid of the bad and keeping th good things.
How to deal with irritable bowel syndrome
If you suffer from this syndrome what you want is quick relief. If you want almost immediate and impressive results, you should dare to change your diet. Make a simple, anti-inflammatory diet low in allergens, refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods. Keep it really simple and record how you feel after each meal. You may also want to consider removing foods that are “difficult” for the intestine, such as seeds and beans.
Cooperating with a doctor, a specialist in Functional Medicine, may be the “secret” to managing the condition. The specialist will choose a causal and personalized approach with special mapping and specialized Metabolic tests to your bowel, which will lead to a definitive elimination of the problem without having to take antidepressants as treatment, as many “experts” recommend.
Ten simple ways to get rid of the irritable bowel syndrome
– Eat protein. To avoid imbalances in blood sugar, which feed the heavy bowel bacteria, eat protein in every meal. This will help you avoid sudden increases in your blood sugar. Prefer pure and animal protein such as fish, turkey, chicken and lean lambs and many plant proteins such as nuts, beans, seeds and tofu.
– Eat foods rich in fiber. Whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits all contain useful fibers.
– Do not be afraid of good fat. Increase omega-3 fatty acids by eating wild cold water salmon, sardines, herring, flaxseed, even seaweed. Use more animal products with forage or organic products. Eliminate the hydrogenated fat, which is found in margarine, fat and processed oils, as well as many baked products and processed foods. Use vegetable oils such as coconut oil, olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil), cold pressed sesame and walnuts.
– Eat at least 8 to 10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day that contain vitamins that fight the disease, metals, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules.
– Avoid processed foods such as soft drinks, juices and energy drinks that affect the metabolism of sugar and lipids.
– Add good nutrients to your diet, such as zinc, vitamin A, glutamine, fatty omega-3 (fish oil) and evening primrose oil are the nutrients that help repair the lining of the bowel. Also use herbs such as quercetin and turmeric to reduce inflammation and cure the leaking gut.
– Reduce stress. Meditation, deep breaths and yoga help reduce stress.
– Get adequate sleep.
– Work regularly. Even 30 minutes of quick walking can help you, and if you want something more intense, try high-intensity workout or weight-resistance.
– Add probiotics to your diet. Help colonize your digestive tract with good bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii, taking dietary supplements twice a day for one to two months. Start slowly and notice how Probiotics affect your bowel.