Irritable Bowel is one of those conditions that I think every sufferer should be encouraged to see a naturopath about. It is bread and butter for nutritionists and whollistic trained professionals.
You may have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS as it is shortened to, or you may suspect you have it.
Regardless, you will be suffering with irratic bowel motions which can be mild to socially bothersome!
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a “medical term” used to describe altered bowel habits that have no apparent medical cause.
Your bowel motions can be pebbly and a result of constipation or loose and unformed and even diarrhoea.
Loose motions, urgent motions, smelly ones, bloated bellies all fall under the umbrella of IBS.
According to the medical research one in five people suffer with it.
These can vary person to person but the Typical symptoms of IBS include:
- altered bowel motions
- burping and belching
- bad breath
- feeling like incomplete bowel evacuation
- fluid retention (although in women this is often hormonal)
What causes irritable bowel syndrome?
Having an irritated bowel means something inside your gut (or gastro-intestinal system) is create havoc and mayhem.
This can be a parasite (worms), fungus (candida), bacteria (h.pylori and many others), stress or foods. Drug side-effects and food/chemical side-effects can also lead to altered bowel motions.
How is IBS diagnosed?
Diagnosis can be made based on your symptoms.
If your IBS is severe you may be referred to a gastroenterologist to get a colonoscopy and gastroscopy by your GP. Sometimes they check for food and gluten sensitivities but there is still a prevailing train of thought amongst medical doctors “ that food isn’t to blame”.
However in most cases food is a contributing factor.
Food is a contributing factor – see a professional who specialises in food
How can you manage irritable bowel syndrome?
Over the years, as a (university trained) nutritionist, I have seen food changes dramatically improve people’s IBS and symptoms.
It makes sense too.
If you are eating something that is coming into contact with your gut wall and there is an intolerance OF COURSE your gut wall is going to scream out at you.
It does this by cramping, dumping, bloating and any of the symptoms listed above.
The typical food offenders are dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and kidney beans so it makes sense to cut back on these or stop them all together.
There are many other foods that people react with and it’s worth finding out which ones affect you.
People also vary their OWN intolerances depending on their stress levels.
If their stress levels are high (they will experience high circulating cortisol levels which can increase their inflammatory reaction and intolerance to foods).
Reactions also vary depending on colonised bowel flora (how much good bacteria you have in your tummy or not).
Gluten free, Dairy free for IBS.
Gluten-FREE living is now considered “clean eating” but I consider it essential. In our household we aim to be gluten free.
Emerging evidence from USA gastroenterologists, are claiming that EVERYONE (100%) are affected by gluten. It breaks down the vital links in our gut wall and whilst everyone may not be allergic (celiac) most have an intolerance.
Dairy intolerance is actually higher than gluten intolerance and when you study casein, the protein in cows milk, you see why.
It is a tricky protein chain that is best broken down, not surprisingly, by baby cows… not humans.
Cows milk is for baby cows. Goats milk is for baby goats, and Human Breast Milk is perfect for baby humans. But really no milk is good for mature adults (breast milk loses its social acceptance somewhere along the line).
Whey proteins can be bad for you and lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Now on the issue of casein and milk proteins. Many people supplement with whey protein powders. Isonized or not, it is still a dairy source. This will in many people will create confusion at the gut wall and negate any benefit and can lead to IBS or weight gain.
Gage how you feel after a protein shake with whey.
Does your gut bloat, do you fluff or do you feel tired? Some of these signs are subtle but may be present indicating IBS.
There are many other foods that people can react to, and over the years I have seen them all: lettuce, mushrooms, avocado, salmon, pinto beans and on it goes.
When people come to me with IBS I suggest the following – some of it depends on your budget, some on your motivation (ie how much pain are you in and do you want it gone) and some of it logistic (ie is it feasible to stop gluten and dairy).
Food Intolerance Test
There are a few on the market, the one I use is with a laboratory in Melbourne. It measures your levels of IGg – an antibody made by your body when it feels under attack and is quite accurate for food intolerances.
The negatives are the cost (currently 93 foods costs $380), if you haven’t had the food for 3-4 weeks you may not react (so get a false negative), it does involve pricking your finger with a small lancet (as diabetics do) and the results take 3-4 weeks to come back.
The advantages are its accuracy, its reliability and its comprehensive scales.
You can purchase a kit and I can post it out – just send me an email.
If your results show that you need to avoid dairy and gluten I have an 8 week program that you can purchase that offers you daily eating plans, recipes and all are gluten and dairy free!
Whilst the hair analysis doesn’t check Igg antibodies, it does indicate intolerances (foods to avoid), picks up the presence of bacteria, parasites, fungus and more.
I have found it a fantastic tool and very useful.
I now do it routinely in my clinic (I love the information it offers) and I also offer it as a test you can do from home.
You can order it from my shop and do it from home and send it in. There’s no need to even see me.
You can always try to mitigate symptoms yourself and simply drop gluten and dairy and see if you improve. Eggs and peanuts are well documented to be highly allergic but I do find if you can knock out dairy and gluten eggs are better tolerated and well, a peanut allergy is a different story.
If you have a true peanut allergy please STOP them. I have witnessed people have major allergic reactions as a nurse in the Emergency Department and it can be life threatening.
Doctor ordered tests
I am not a medical doctor but there are a few tests they can offer to help you diagnose things. The first is a RAST or blood test to work out common allergens.
They can also measure IgE which indicates your allergy status. Is it useful? I have seen it lead people to the next step of “YES THERE IS AN ISSUE” but does it help manage it? I am not so sure.
Your doctor can also order a gluten sensitivity test (measuring antibodies etc) but once again many with true gluten sensitivity don’t actually show up on a blood test!
Skin prick tests are done by specialist doctors known as “Allergy Specialists or Immunologists.” The skin prick test is insightful but does have limitations as false/negatives as it measures IgE not IGg.
Endoscopies are medical procedures where they insert a hose with a visual camera either down your throat or up the other passage (insert grimacing smiling icon).
They require a few days of a different diet, going to a day surgery and having a day or two off work. It is however the BEST way to work out the “damage”. It is also a great way to have a biopsy and determine or rule out nasty conditions such as full blown allergy to gluten (celiac disease), parasitology and others but isn’t very good for diagnosing intolerances. For example if you have a food intolerance (not allergy) then these procedures may not enlighten you.
What should you do if you have IBS?
I think be smart!
IBS is the feedback your body is NOT HAPPY. Ignoring that is silly.
Of course I like the services I offer and think they are the best starting point.
Send me an email or order a hair test today.
I have the hair test incorporated with a 3 consultation package here and that is an affordable and great way to change your life.
With IBS you may need to do a few tests but once you have worked it all out, your health will improve, your life will improve and many other diseases will be avoided.
If you have a specific concern that I haven’t addressed here, please send me an email and I will see if I can assist.
Sam Beau Patrick
Nutritionist and naturopath
M: 0405669 135