In our minds health and happiness are something that go hand in hand. And no doubt we started the New Year by sending a text, a FB message or perhaps (so old-fashioned nowadays) a hand-written card, wishing friends and family a happy and a healthy 2016.

For you it’s not just a figure of speech.

If you are living with the daily symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you can truly appreciate the link between two entities. IBS is one of the conditions that heavily affects quality of life and it must be an uphill struggle trying to juggle your daily activities with the frustrating embarrassing and painful symptoms of IBS.

But how is it that with all the advances in cosmic technology so complex, like building space stations orbiting earth, landing a space probe on a comet, and emergence of space tourism in the near future, we are still unsuccessful at treating seemingly trivial diarrhea and constipation, major symptoms of IBS?

Various factors are associated with IBS

What is known is that several factors could be associated with IBS. This means that if you live with IBS, these factors may not have directly caused faults in the system, triggering symptoms however are often present in the past or present life of IBS sufferers.

1. FOOD INTOLERANCE

This is probably the most well-known reason attributed to IBS which in many instances is at the “bottom” of the problem. Diet modification with the help of a registered nutritionist or a dietician can put things on the mend, significantly reducing the symptoms. However in half of IBS sufferers, despite the diet modifications the symptoms persist to no avail. If that’s the case, you may need to look further.

2. ALTERATION IN GUT BACTERIA

In the last year or so numerous articles in the media were devoted to gut bacterium – trillions of bacteria that peacefully and helpfully coexist with our own cells in our intestines. Apparently gut bacterium play important role in more aspects of our health than mere digestion. It may sound like a science fiction, but new evidence suggests, that gut bacterium, beyond exerting influence on local cells of the digestive tract, are also interacting with the brain. What is clear is that diversity and stability of the gut bacterium is compromised in people with IBS. Sometimes IBS symptoms appear following a course of antibiotics or a gastrointestinal infection. Diet high in sugar & processed food and binge drinking seems to provoke more aggressive microbes to displace some of the peaceful and helpful bacteria.

3. STRESS

Many of us instinctively hold stress responsible for playing a role in many diseases and illnesses and perhaps more so in IBS. Research now supports this common belief as more details are gathered about a dual communication system between the gut and the brain, known as a brain-gut axis. This complex communication network enables cross talk or passage of information between the gut and the limbic system of the brain, predominantly responsible for memory and emotional responses. Stress is linked to creating misunderstandings or signal misfiring in the network leading, for example to so-called visceral hypersensitivity, when even minor stomach tension is registered and translated into pain sensations in people with IBS. Some evidence show that psychological symptoms precede abdominal dysfunction in 75% of the cases and could be associated with not only recent stressful events but often to early life stress in childhood.

4. LOW GRADE INFLAMMATION

Many people with IBS show the presence of low grade circulating inflammation and are often diagnosed with “leaky” gut. That usually happens when the intestinal wall becomes more porous, allowing bacteria to pass through it into the body. Unwelcome newcomers are then swiftly detected by the body’s immune system triggering a protective response, set to destroy them. The cycle of inflammation however goes on as the gut wall continues to “leak” bacteria from the inside of the digestive tract. The result is the intestinal wall stays inflamed unable to initiate healing process and to support its healthy functioning.

It can be frustrating to get your head around it, can’t it?

In reality medical scientists are still trying to piece together what and where things go wrong in IBS before moving on to the potential cures. Therefore, to the frustration of millions of people, IBS diagnosis is still based on the cluster of the symptoms one is experiencing because the adverse physiological changes in this syndrome are not yet clear.
What is important however…is to understand as much as possible about the condition you suffer with because that in itself it can bring empowerment and positivity to your life.

So if you want to see what IBS factors are relevant to you, bear with me.

 

  • TRY TO IDENTIFY WHAT CAUSES YOUR IBS SYMPTOMS

    A book “Irritable Bowel Solutions: The Essential Guide to IBS, Its Causes and Treatments” by Professor John Hunter will guide you through series of questions eliminating things not relevant to you to find out the most likely reasons for your symptoms.

  • REVIEW YOUR DIET

    Introduce more foods with anti-inflammatory and probiotic properties like oily fish, Siberian pine nut oil, miso soup, sauerkraut (read my blog on how to make sauerkraut yourself).

  • ADD EXERCISES TO YOUR LIFE

    We can’t escape the fact that exercises exert anti-inflammatory effect on the body and also burns stress hormones. Any kind of activity is good, so you can stick to one you particularly enjoy. What is even better is to join a variety of activities and to embrace different types of workouts to suit the weather and your mood.

It makes sense to address all the factors together

No doubt that, one day IBS will be a quick fix. For now though, understanding IBS seems more complex than space exploration but bear in mind that we are harbouring, what looks like a universe inside us.

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Back to you

Your personal insights and suggestions are so important to me. What IBS triggers and soothers can you share? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thank you.

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