Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Solutions

Introduction

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you are not alone. This condition affects as many as 20 percent of people living in Western counties, making it one of the most common health complaints seen by doctors (Nature Reviews). [1] If you are among this group, you probably understand how complex and challenging it can be to get diagnosed and find irritable bowel syndrome treatment options that work for you.

In addition, this chronic condition has likely negatively impacted your quality of life. You might even have encountered medical practitioners who believe irritable bowel syndrome is purely psychosomatic, creating even more stress for you.

However, recent research confirms that irritable bowel syndrome involves physical health through the gut microbiome, food intolerances, sensitivities, allergies, and immune system dysfunction among other illnesses. Nonetheless, it is also true that IBS is associated with several mental health disorders, such as anxiety, emotional stress, and depression, and ongoing research is investigating this connection.

In this article, you will learn about research studies investigating what causes IBS, IBS symptoms, foods to avoid IBS, and IBS treatment options, including the best IBS diets.

Read on and learn about “healing the gut “[Link1] naturally for people experiencing the challenges of irritable bowel syndrome and looking for solutions.

Reizdarm Syndrom Symptome

1. What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

History Base of IBS

The condition we call irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, was first researched in 1892 under the name mucous colitis. The researcher who first described it noticed that many patients with this digestive system disorder also had mental health conditions such as depression. At that time, IBS was also called a nervous colon and spastic bowels.

By 1929, the condition was renamed colonic spasm and described as an irritable or spastic colon, seen in about one-third of gastric outpatients in clinics at the time. Researchers in the 1920s also noted the symptoms of frequent abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements that are characteristic of this health issue. [2]

We now know that irritable bowel syndrome is one of several functional gastrointestinal disorders or GI disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and Celiac disease. 

These disorders involve dysfunction of the large intestine, resulting in abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.Symptoms range from mild to severe, with many people having milder symptoms they can manage through diet and lifestyle. People with more severe cases of IBS often benefit from psychological counseling or medication to help with anxiety or depression.

Having IBS does not increase a person’s chances of colorectal cancer, and the condition does not result in organ or tissue damage. Nonetheless, life with IBS can be challenging, especially if you have not yet found solutions that work for managing symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and pain. [3]

Who Gets Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

People of all ages, from children to teenagers to the elderly, are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. However, people under the age of 50 are most likely to receive a diagnosis of IBS. Teenagers have a higher risk than young children, and many studies have found that women are affected more often than men. However, other studies find the prevalence approximately equal between males and females. One current estimate is that 25 and 45 million people in the U.S. have IBS, with about 60 percent female and 40 percent male. [4]

In addition, IBS appears to run in families. Children with one or both parents diagnosed with this condition have a higher risk factor than children without this medical condition in their close relations. [5] 

gut healthy, colon

2. What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

What Are Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms?

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary slightly from one person to another. [6] However, most cases show the following: Frequent, recurring abdominal pain that does not have another explanation

  • Irregular bowel movements, sometimes with predominately diarrhea or constipation and sometimes alternating between the two
  • Reduced or absent appetite
  • Frequent feelings of bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, and pain
  • Mucus in feces
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Incomplete bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain may go away after a bowel movement.

Many of these symptoms are caused by irregular contractions of muscles in the intestine that moves food along in the digestive tract. An excess of muscle contraction can lead to a bloated feeling and diarrhea, and too little contraction in the intestine can slow down food, resulting in constipation. 

There Is More Than One Type of IBS

IBS is grouped into four subtypes based on the person’s frequency and type of bowel movements. [7] These groups are:

  • IBS-C (IBS with constipation)
  • IBS-D (IBS with diarrhea)
  • IBS-M (IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea)
  • Un-subtyped IBS, covering all other types

The optimum treatment plan depends on which of these subtypes of IBS a person has.

IBS Causes

Research suggests that irritable bowel syndrome has several potential causes, [8] including:

  • Previous gastrointestinal tract infections resulting in severe diarrhea
  • An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine
  • Defects in digestive system nerves, resulting in improper signals between the gut and brain
  • A history of emotional stress, especially in early life
  • Imbalances in populations of gut bacteria

Some research suggests that Celiac disease is one of the risk factors for IBS. However, the data supporting this is still inconclusive. Celiac disease is a severe form of gluten intolerance, and some people with IBS find that their symptoms decrease when they follow a gluten-free diet. Doctors can use a blood test to diagnose Celiac disease. [8]  

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Some medical practitioners believe irritable bowel syndrome is purely psychosomatic and stems from an underlying mental health disorder. However, recent research does not support the view that IBS is strictly psychological. Nonetheless, there is still a strong correlation between certain mental health conditions and irritable bowel syndrome, and mental health issues appear to be risk factors for IBS. [9]

For example, in one study, nearly 30 percent of people with IBS also had a major depressive disorder. Other studies show a solid link to panic disorder, anxiety, mood disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) In some cases, anti-depressive medications are effective for relieving or reducing symptoms of IBS. [10]

The connection between IBS and mental health involves what is known as the gut-brain axis [Link2] – a communication system linking the brain and nervous system with functions in the intestine. Gut microorganisms play a central role in this two-way communication network that operates through the nerves, endocrine system, immune system, and bloodstream.

Several research studies have confirmed a strong association between irritable bowel syndrome and emotional stress, and some people find relief from symptoms when they engage in psychological therapy. Mental health therapies for IBS include learning relaxation techniques and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Most researchers currently do not believe that mental health problems directly cause IBS. Instead, they think that mental health affects the digestive system in other ways, including: 

  • Stress and anxiety trigger brain chemicals that cause a reaction in the colon
  • Stress makes the person more aware of intestinal spasms
  • An immune system reaction caused by stress exacerbates symptoms

While IBS is no longer considered a psychosomatic illness by most health practitioners, much research confirms there is a genuine link between gut health and mental health. [11]

 

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3. Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities and IBS

The Role of Inflammation

Numerous pieces of research have noted a connection between IBS and food sensitivities, food intolerances, and food allergies. Studies using exclusion diets have shown promise for relieving symptoms of IBS for some people. [12]

Since the gut’s primary function is digestion and absorption of nutrients from food, it makes sense that if someone has an allergy or intolerance to a particular food, eating those foods could easily lead to unpleasant abdominal distress. However, in several studies using exclusion diets to treat IBS, about half of the participants were able to reduce or eliminate symptoms by avoiding certain foods.

The foods most often associated with IBS symptoms include:

  • Wheat and gluten-containing foods
  • Dairy products
  • FODMAP foods

FODMAP foods are explained in more detail later in this article. However, for people with IBS, avoiding these foods, or exploring their relationship to symptoms by using an elimination diet, is a reasonable starting point for treating the condition.

 

Cell-Mediated Intolerances 

Inflammation caused by foods

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Another avenue of research into the causes of IBS is its connection to leaky gut syndrome. The lining of the intestine is where food nutrients are broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream with the assistance of healthy bacteria residing in the gut. The intestinal lining and the health and composition of these bacteria are a crucial barrier between the external environment and the body’s interior.

The digestion and absorption of nutrients are intricately connected to the gut microbiome: the billions of healthy bacteria in the gut that help with digestion and immune system function. These good bacteria help maintain the integrity of small openings in the gut lining called tight junctions that regulate what can pass through from the intestine into the bloodstream.

When tight junctions do not work correctly, they become more permeable, allowing unhealthy bacteria, undigested food particles, and other substances to leak past the barrier and enter the bloodstream, resulting in a chronic condition called leaky gut syndrome. Increasing evidence links leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome.  [13]

 

Leaky Gut Syndrome Illustration

IBS and Immune Function 

Australian researchers have recently discovered that diarrhea-predominate IBS (IBS-D) is strongly associated with a specific type of immune system exhaustion. [14] Their study, published in the journal Gut, followed patients with several types of irritable bowel syndrome for one year, examining blood samples from times when the patients experienced IBS symptoms and when they were free from symptoms.

These researchers found that all patients in their study with IBS-D showed signs of exhausted T-cells when they had IBS symptoms. They also noted the connection between emotional stress and IBS symptoms and the observation that stress can adversely affect immune response. 

 

Disorders associated with Leaky Gut

4. Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

As you can see, irritable bowel syndrome is a complex health concern with at least four identified subtypes, making diagnosis difficult. In addition, not everyone has the same symptoms, adding to the challenges of correctly diagnosing this condition. 

Doctors use several types of tests to make the diagnosis, along with a complete physical examination of the patient and their health history. Using the Rome VI criteria, a doctor can diagnose IBS when a patient has bouts of abdominal pain at least once per week for three months or more, along with pain during bowel movements and changes in the frequency of bowel habits and the consistency of stool. For patients with recurring diarrhea or constipation without severe stomach pain, a diagnosis of functional diarrhea or constipation is more likely. [15]

 

Cell Science Nahrungsmittel Unvertraeglichkeit und Mikronaehrstoffe testen

Laboratory Tests for IBS 

A doctor can use several laboratory tests to determine if a person has IBS or another gastrointestinal tract disorder. For example, some bowel disorders are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). The gases released from this overgrowth can be detected using a breath analysis which can help rule out a diagnosis of IBS. [16]

The Cellular Nutrition Assays (CNA) look for nutritional substances like vitamins in cells to see if they are adequate or deficient. A CNA test can also eliminate or verify a diagnosis of IBS. The Pimentel Lab has also developed a blood test for IBS diagnosis. [17] 

The ALCAT test identifies foods that provoke a cellular response of immune cells called leukocyte activation (LA). This test has been shown in randomized, double-blind studies to be effective for determining which specific foods a patient cannot properly digest, leading to IBS symptoms. Eliminating these foods from the diet can result in an end to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. [18]

Other tests doctors use for diagnosing IBS include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scans
  • Lactose intolerance tests
  • Upper endoscopy examination
  • Stool tests
Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit Anwendungsgebiete Yale Universität Reizdarm Studie

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Options

General Approaches & Guidelines

Many people successfully treat IBS by reducing stress, making changes to their diet, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and seeking mental health therapy. Let’s look at each of these approaches in turn before we explore individualised approaches.

Healing IBS with Stress Reduction 

While there is still much to learn about the causes and treatments of IBS, one fact is clear: There is a strong association between IBS and emotional stress. [19] One theory is that some people are more susceptible to IBS due to genetics, a history of trauma or ongoing stress, or a history of other gastrointestinal disorders. For these people, sustained stress can affect the brain-gut axis, resulting in the onset or exacerbation of IBS symptoms.

You can relieve stress and potentially reduce or eliminate IBS symptoms through:

Meditation and mindfulness practice

  • Regular, moderate exercise
  • Spending time in nature
  • Massage therapy
  • Listening to binaural beats designed for relaxation
  • Supportive psychological counseling

Foods to Avoid IBS   

Many people know that the typical Western diet of processed and fast food is unhealthy. If you have a diagnosis of IBS, your doctor is likely to advise that you avoiding certain foods and centering your diet on other foods that are healthier for your digestive system and overall health. Foods to avoid IBS include: [20]

 

  • Insoluble fiber found in the skin of fruits and vegetables
  • Chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Fried foods and high-fat foods
  • Cow’s milk products, especially for people with lactose intolerance
  • Wheat and rye products, especially for people with gluten intolerance
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Fast foods and processed foods
  • Soy products and other legumes, especially chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils
  • Sugar-free sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol
  • Artificial sweeteners

What Is the Best IBS Diet?

When planning a diet to control IBS symptoms, the following foods are most likely to be digested without problems. [22]

  • Non-dairy, lactose-free kinds of milk such as oat milk, rice milk, and almond milk
  • Low-fructose fruits such as banana, blueberries, grapes, kiwi, and strawberries
  • Non-cruciferous vegetables including eggplant, celery, carrots, sweet potato, summer squash, lettuce, green beans, and yams
  • Non-gluten grains such as rice, oats, millet, and quinoa
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats
  • High omega-3 oil fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel

In addition, drinking plenty of fresh water, eliminating alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks, and increasing dietary fiber are all helpful for controlling IBS symptoms. 

FODMAP Diet for IBS 

One dietary approach for treating IBS is called the low FODMAP diet. FODMAP is short for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols,” which are short-chain, highly fermentable carbohydrates

FODMAP foods are not easily absorbed in the small intestine, increasing fluid in the digestive tract and potentially leading to bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. This website provides a comprehensive list of high and low FODMAP foods.

In one studyof Harvard Medical School of FODMAP diets, 76 percent of patients who adhered to the diet significantly reduced or eliminated their IBS symptoms. Drinking plenty of water is also a crucial part of a healthy diet and can help with healing IBS. [21]

Probiotics and Prebiotics for Healing IBS

Probiotics are foods that contain large amounts of gut-friendly bacteria that can help to restore and maintain the balance of healthy microorganisms in the intestine. Regularly eating probiotic foods can help balance the populations of these beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotic foods include:

  • Live-culture yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses
  • Naturally fermented sauerkraut and pickles
  • Miso, tempeh, and natto

You can also ingest probiotics as a supplement if you cannot tolerate the foods on the above list. Research has found that even inactivated probiotic bacteria in supplements are effective for relieving IBS symptoms for many people. [24]

Prebiotic foods contain carbohydrates that probiotic bacteria eat, helping these healthy microbes thrive in the gut. Some popular prebiotic foods, like garlic and onions, are not advisable for people with IBS. However, slightly green bananas, whole grains, and guar gum provide prebiotic food sources for healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotic supplements are also available. 

Herbal Remedies for IBS

Another dietary intervention for healing IBS is including certain herbs in the diet. Herbs can be consumed as a tea, taken as a tincture, or added to foods. The most helpful herbs for IBS include:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Ginger
  • Fennel
  • Turmeric
  • Caraway seeds and oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Herbs for IBS can work in several ways, including soothing the gut, reducing stress, and as a laxative for relief of constipation. [23]

 

Other Supplements for IBS

People striving to heal from IBS can also benefit from supplements that help regenerate the mucosal layer in the gut, such as:

  • L-Glutamine
  • Lactoferrin
  • Omega-3 fats
  • Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, manganese, flavonoids, and coenzyme Q10

Several studies have found that antioxidants are helpful in the treatment of a variety of functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis, because these illnesses are associated with oxidative stress in the body. [25]

Healthy Lifestyle Choices for Treating IBS

Adopting healthy lifestyle practices can also have a beneficial impact on irritable bowel syndrome. [26] Healthy lifestyle choices that can help heal IBS include:

  • Drinking sufficient fresh water
  • Getting adequate amounts of sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Engaging in moderate exercise such as yoga and walking
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use
  • Adopting good body posture
  • Avoiding exposure to toxic substances such as herbicides and synthetic chemicals

In addition, as mentioned earlier in this article, mental health can play a role in developing IBS. If changes to diet and lifestyle do not relieve symptoms, finding a qualified mental health practitioner for supportive psychotherapy can help reduce stress and treat mental health issues that can exacerbate IBS symptoms. 

6. Personalized Approaches To Avoid Intolerances & Nutrient Deficiencies

Individualized Approaches

Working with a health practitioner who has experience helping people heal leaky gut is also highly advisable. Each person must tailor their treatment methods to match their body type, medical history, and other individual factors.

Expect healing to take between three to six months once you start eating a healthy gut diet and implementing positive lifestyle practices.

Tip: The Alcat Test identifies pro-inflammatory foods which may contribute to leaky gut and provides a list of “recommended foods”. You can identify intracellular nutrient deficiencies and learn which nutrients benefit.

Reizdarm und Alcat Unvertraeglichkeiten

Personalized Diet Based on Lab Data to Improve Leaky Gut

The Alcat food intolerance test is an important tool for prevention and identification of foods that can trigger inflammation in the gut. In a simple blood test, immune cells are exposed to foods, additives, medications, substances in dietary supplements, and more.

Food intolerances are mediated by cellular defenses. The inflammatory processes that occur are often hidden – hence the term silent inflammation -, and are more difficult to detect than an immediate-type food allergy.

Cell Science Systems, Alcat Labor

Cells on fire: In the resting state, neutrophil granulocytes (innate immune cell type) have a round shape. As they ingest danger-molecules or pathogens, they swell – the cell activation process begins. During a strong reaction, granulocytes can burst. Consequently, the highly toxic proinflammatory mediators – the cell’s own “arsenal of weapons”, free radicals and even DNA are released. Chronic activation of the immune system caused by food components can be associated with a wide variety of diseases (image right).

Cell mediated Food Intolerance

The Alcat Test includes a precise interpretation of the test results and makes a clear distinction between allergy, enzyme mediated intolerance and food intolerance, also adressed as sensitivity. It also includes the creation of a personalized profile with dietary recommendations and integrates lifestyle questions (eating out, vacations, celebrations, consumption of stimulants, stress reduction).

The Alcat Test has been validated in double-blinded studies for determining specific dietary recommendations relevant to food intolerances that might help prevent disease.  → More information

This personalized diet concept allows you to address effectively underlying inflammatory processes and prevent the development of chronic diseases.

Information about the Alcat Food Inflammation Test and Cellular Micronutrient Tests 

Conclusions

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disease affecting the digestive system and resulting in painful and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and constipation. This chronic condition was once thought to be essentially psychological. However, we now know that while irritable bowel syndrome is often associated with mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and stress, physical health also plays a central role in this illness.

Diagnosing and treating IBS can be challenging because this disease has several subtypes and requires individually tailored solutions. Nonetheless, there are now several reliable laboratory tests for diagnosis, and dietary and lifestyle changes can produce positive results and improve the quality of life for most people.

 

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100 Alcat Food Intolerance Test + 100 Micro/Macro Nutrients

Combi Food Intolerance Test and Cellular Nutrition Assays

Alcat Lebensmittelunverträglichkeitstest Angebote / Testpakete

Combi Test Package  →

Price € 854 (€ 869)

245 Alcat Food Reaction Test + Additives / 100 Micro/Macro Nutrients

Comprehensive multi-combination profile: for optimal metabolism & nutrient supply

Literature / Sources

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/nrgastro.2014.127

 [2] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(97)05276-8/fulltext#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9Cirritable%20colon%E2%80%9D%20first,similar%20to%20its%20present%20one.

[3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/ibs-vs-colon-cancer#connection-between-both

[4] https://aboutibs.org/what-is-ibs/facts-about-ibs/#:~:text=IBS%20affects%20people%20of%20all,3%20IBS%20sufferers%20are%20male.

[5] https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/childrens-hospital/gastroenterology/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome.aspx

[6] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016#:~:text=Irritable%20bowel%20syndrome%20(IBS)%20is,need%20to%20manage%20long%20term.

[7]  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016#:~:text=The%20walls%20of%20the%20intestines,Nervous%20system.

 [8] https://celiac.org/about-the-foundation/featured-news/2016/02/irritable-bowel-syndrome-gluten-related-disorders-and-the-low-fodmap-diet/

[9] https://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/stress-anxiety-ibs#:~:text=Although%20psychological%20problems%20like%20anxiety,cause%20your%20colon%20to%20react.

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16898626/#:~:text=Irritable%20bowel%20syndrome%20(IBS)%20is,also%20diagnosed%20with%20major%20depression.

[11] https://ibshealth.today/understanding-ibs/ibs-and-mental-health/

[12]  https://www.gastroenterologyandhepatology.net/archives/january-2019/food-allergy-vs-food-intolerance-in-patients-with-irritable-bowel-syndrome/

[13] Leaky Gut and IBS: Is There a Connection? – Today’s Practitioner (todayspractitioner.com)

[14] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170620122901.htm#:~:text=A%20specific%20type%20of%20irritable,the%20immune%20system%20in%20patients.

[15] https://www.healthline.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/tests-diagnosis#:~:text=IBS%20is%20a%20collection%20of,use%20a%20variety%20of%20tests.

[16] https://health.usf.edu/medicine/internalmedicine/digestive/breathtests

[17] https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/research/labs/pimentel.html

[18] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170925006049/en/Independent-Study-Shows-Alcat-Test-Can-Significantly-Improve-Symptom-Severity-for-Those-with-Irritable-Bowel-Syndrome

[19] https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(11)00087-4/fulltext

[20] https://www.webmd.com/ibs/ibs-triggers-prevention-strategies#:~:text=Diet%20Triggers%20for%20IBS%20Diarrhea,Carbonated%20drinks

[21] https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/a-new-diet-to-manage-irritable-bowel-syndrome

[22] https://allieddigestivehealth.com/the-best-worst-foods-for-ibs/

[23] https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-remedies-for-ibs.html

[24] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-even-inactive-ones-may-relieve-ibs-symptoms-2020062220303

[25] https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/468988

[26] https://www.rosemedicalgroups.org/blog/5-lifestyle-changes-that-help-with-your-ibs#:~:text=When%20it%20comes%20to%20IBS,make%20a%20plan%20to%20quit.