What Causes IBS?

IBS— irritable bowel syndrome—causes abdominal pain and changes in your bowel movements that include constipation, diarrhea or both. It all depends on the type of IBS you have. Other symptoms include the feeling you haven’t finished in the bathroom, even though you just went, bloating and white mucus in your bowel movements. It can cause considerable discomfort, but normally doesn’t cause digestive tract damage. Unfortunately, IBS can last years.

Your brain and your gut may not be working together well.

If there’s a problem with the brain-gut interaction, it can affect the functions of the body. One of those indications are the symptoms of IBS. It may cause food to move too slowly through the digestive tract or make it move too quickly. Both of those can cause bowel movement changes, an abnormal amount of gas and pain.

People with IBS may have similar problems.

When studying IBS, doctors did find some factors that were common to most people with IBS. Not all people have had all these things occur in life, but may have one or two. Depression, anxiety and somatic symptoms are common in people with IBS. Digestive tract bacterial infections are as well. The gut microbiome is often unhealthy with bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines and/or a change in the type of bacteria in the small intestines. Stressful events in early life like sexual abuse or physical abuse can also be one of the commonality among IBS sufferers. IBS sufferers often have food sensitivities and intolerances. Genetic make-up may also play a role.

The treatment will vary based on the individual.

For some people, lifestyle changes may be all they need to get help with IBS. Changes include eating more fiber, identifying and avoiding food you can’t tolerate, such as gluten or dairy, reducing stress and increasing physical activity (which can also reduce stress). Adequate sleep is important, too. Some doctors recommend probiotics if they find a problem with gut microbes. Sometimes mental health therapies can help, such as relaxation training, hypnotherapy to improve gut health and cognitive therapy to help change behavior and thought patterns that affect IBS. Doctors may also prescribe medication to help with diarrhea, constipation or spasms.

  • Adding more fiber to your diet may be a help. Soluble fiber is a prebiotic that feeds beneficial microbes. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools. Studies show soluble fiber helps most. It’s found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, oats and beans.
  • Maybe gluten is your problem. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley. It can cause many of the symptoms of IBS, even if they don’t have celiac disease.
  • Try a low FODMAP diet. A low FODMAP diet strives to reduce food that contain certain hard-to-digest fermentable carbs. Wheat, garlic, onion, certain fruits and vegetables and beans contain them.
  • IBS used to have many names, such as colitis, spastic colon or bowel and nervous colon. About 12% of the population suffers from IBS.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness

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