You probably know if you have irritable bowel syndrome*(IBS) — with symptoms like bloating, gas, distention, constipation, diarrhoea, cramping… They tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods. These symptoms can often be debilitating and lead to a reduced quality of life.
Five people with IBS would have the same symptoms but each may have different causes, as there are many underlying culprits to the syndrome. Conventional approach tends to merely suppress symptoms but doesn’t address the underlying causes. Exploring what specifically triggers your IBS symptoms is essential to improving your condition.
What are the main triggers?
Food sensitivities and allergies
These could be caused by gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Dairy can be problematic as well, as lactose may cause bloating, gas and diarrhoea in some people. Other common food sensitivities may relate to soy, corn and eggs which may cause gut inflammation.
Malabsorption of high FODMAPs food
Some carbohydrates named FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols) may be problematic for those with IBS. These short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the gut. The production of gas by these bacteria is a major contributor to symptoms.
Gut inflammation and ecosystem imbalances
Many things can make your gut lining erode, including: stress, antibiotics or recurrent courses of anti-inflammatory drugs, intestinal microbial, viral or parasitic infections, poor diet low in fibre and high in sugar and alcohol… . If that lining breaks down, your immune system will be exposed to foreign particles from food and bacteria and other microbes. Imbalance in your gut flora where pathogenic bacteria overwhelms healthy bacteria is also implicated in IBS.
This is precisely why it is so critically important to personalize the approach based on the unique circumstances. By addressing underlying causes, excellent outcomes are possible.
*Always have your symptoms checked by a General Practitioner, although IBS can’t be confirmed with a test, your GP may recommend blood tests, scans, X-rays or other tests in order to rule out any other structural bowel disease.