Irritable Bowel Syndrome
More and more suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are not alone. Once a relatively rare disorder, IBS now affects an estimated 20 to 30% of the U.S. population. Although women are two times more likely than men to seek treatment for IBS, it is thought that men and women are affected in equal numbers. It is the most common reason for a referral to a gastroenterologist.
IBS is characterized by a malfunction in the digestive tract. Usually, waste material is delivered through the tract to the rectum by rhythmic contractions of the intestines. In IBS, those contractions become erratic and irregular. Bowel movements are unpredictable and painful, with attending constipation, diarrhea, or an alternation of both. The abdomen may be cramped or bloated, certain foods can no longer be tolerated, and other all-too-familiar signs of gastric distress develop. In some cases, waste matter is pushed through the tract with such force that stool incontinence results. Studies have also found that people with IBS have increased sensitivity to pain in the digestive tract.
Fundamental Causes of IBS
There are really five main fundamental causes of IBS. The modern day, fast food diet is definitely one of them. Refined foods that are hard to digest contribute to many symptoms of poor digestion. Secondly, poor stress coping mechanisms trigger nervous system reactions that contributes to IBS. Unresolved emotional traumas can also have this negative effect as well. Thirdly, chronic infections of the digestive tract with fungi, parasites, bacteria, can be causative factors. Fourth, poorly functioning digestive organs contribute to IBS symptoms. This includes dysbiosis, where there is a deficiency of the good bacteria involved with digestion and detoxification. The last cause and least common are structural abnormalities. Spinal misalignments for example impair nerve flow to the digestive tract that contributes to digestive problems.
It is important you consult with a doctor to find out if you have IBS or some other condition that causes similar symptoms. However, in Dr. Stengler’s opinion natural therapies are the only sensible approach for the long term control and resolution of this condition as they treat the underlying cause(s).
Following are tests that help assess possible reasons for Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
- Intestinal Permeability-blood
- Digestive function and microbe/parasite/fungi testing-stool analysis
- Food allergies/sensitivities-blood
- Bacteria Overgrowth of Small Intestine-breath samples
Diet and Lifestyle
The first step in treating IBS is to determine whether your problem is actually an allergy to food. See Sensitivity Testing. If you can trace your symptoms to a particular food or foods, make it a priority to avoid those allergens. Keep a close eye on how dairy products affect you; lactose is often a trigger for IBS-like symptoms. Gluten and sugar products are common offenders as well.
Saturated, hydrogenated, and partially hydrogenated fats disturb the intestines and are hard to digest. Stay away from red meat, butter, margarine, and fried foods. Avoid mucus-forming foods that encourage toxins to accumulate. Foods that promote mucus include all dairy products, fried and processed foods, refined flours, and chocolate.
Caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and tobacco all irritate the stomach lining, so eliminate them from your diet. Many of these items also contribute to stress.
Although a high intake of fiber is a necessity, steer clear of wheat bran. It often triggers allergies in IBS sufferers, and because the fiber is insoluble, it can propel waste matter through the intestines faster than is comfortable. Ground flaxseeds are a better choice. Avoid ice-cold drinks that inhibit digestion and may cause cramping.
Regular exercise is important to reduce the effects of stress that can trigger IBS.