IBS Resolves Following a Gluten Free Diet
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? This term has been thrown around by GI doctors for many years as a catch all diagnosis for those with bowel dysfunction of unknown origin. Typically, IBS patients don’t respond to increased fiber and respond poorly to medication. In my experience most patients I see have been stamped with psychological problems and are told to see a psychiatrist and to manage their stress.
If you fall into this category of doctor negligence, keep reading. There is hope yet…
A new study published in the journal Gastroenterology confirms a direct benefit of patients suffering with IBS after following a gluten free diet.
In layman’s terms the study can be summarized as follows:
- A gluten free diet reduced diarrhea in patients with IBS
- There was a noticeable and measurable increase in leaky gut (intestinal permeability) in those eating gluten.
- Gluten caused an increased production of inflammatory markers
- Everything was worse in patients who had positive gene markers for gluten sensitivity.
Here is the technical summary of the study conclusion:
BACKGROUND & AIMS:: Patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) could benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD). METHODS:: We performed a randomized controlled 4-week trial of a gluten-containing diet (GCD) or GFD in 45 patients with IBS-D; genotype analysis was performed for HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. CONCLUSION:: Gluten alters bowel barrier functions in patients with IBS-D, particularly in HLA-DQ2/8-positive patients. These findings reveal a reversible mechanism for the disorder.
Source: Gastroenterology. 2013 Jan 25. pii: S0016-5085(13)00135-2.
A Controlled Trial of Gluten-Free Diet in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea: Effects on Bowel Frequency and Intestinal Function.
Vazquez-Roque MI, Camilleri M, Smyrk T, Murray JA, Marietta E, O’Neill J, Carlson P, Lamsam J, Janzow D, Eckert D, Burton D, Zinsmeister AR.
What To Do When IBS Is Diagnosed
Many get a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. As a matter of fact, this condition will affect 1 in 6 Americans. Most doctors will tell you that there is no known cause or blame stress, but there are some known causes and here is a breakdown for you:
- Gluten – one of the most common causes of IBS today is overexposure to glutens. This family of proteins has been shown to cause nerve damage to the synapses in the gut leading to motility issues that can cause both diarrhea and constipation.
- Lack of dietary fiber – lack of vegetable fibers slows down gastric transit time, but also inhibits the growth of certain types of healthy bacteria. This can translate into a variety of different gastrointestinal symptoms. **Note – psyllium fiber and other cellulose based fibers are not recommended here as they can exacerbate IBS.
- Stress – yes stress can play a role, but it is typically not the main issue for most being diagnosed with this condition.
- Infection – bowel infection of viruses, bacteria, and parasites can cause IBS
- Food Intolerance – different than allergy, an intolerance = inability to digest foods. When foods don’t digest in your gut, they ferment. This can produce gas, bloating, and bowel motility issues. The most common example would be lactose intolerance, however; many other foods can also contribute to this issue including processed sugars, and grains.
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies – Nutritional deficiency impacts the function of many tissues, the gut included. A common example of a nutrient deficiency that can cause IBS symptoms in magnesium. This simple mineral plays a role in how the muscles of the intestine properly contract to push foods and fluids through the bowels. Much like magnesium deficiency can cause muscle cramping in the legs, it can cause the same symptoms in the muscles that line the intestines.
- Lack of Exposure to Healthy Bacteria – good germs help to regulate the water balance, inflammation, and digestive processes of the gut. Most of us are overly hygienic and do not get enough exposure to dirt. Remember that aside from eating fermented foods, playing outside in the dirt is one of the best ways to maintain great exposure to good bacteria.
- Poor Hydration – Lack of fluid intake is extremely common. Whether by not drinking enough water or avoidance of foods that have naturally high levels of water (fruit and vegetables), most Americans stay in a state of chronic dehydration. Add to this the fact that many maintain energy levels by consuming caffeinated beverages. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic and causes excessive water loss on a consistent basis.
- Lack of Exercise – Movement of the body stimulates bowel flow. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle often suffer with abnormal bowel function. If you have a problem with constipation, try light calisthenic exercise every morning after waking. You can also check out a great functional exercise program for home use here.
- Medications That Disrupt Any of the Above – Antibiotics, antacids, pain medications, and anti-depressants, can also disrupt the above through a variety of mechanisms. Additionally, these four groups of drugs represent the top prescribed drugs in the US. Even if you don’t take them directly, you can get exposure to low doses in the water supply. That means that drinking unfiltered tap water or showering and breathing steam (indirect exposure) can leave you exposed. See the diagram below:
Now Take Action
After reading the above information, only you can appropriately take action and improve your gut function. Unfortunately, most doctors are not going to do it for you. You just have to rule out any of the above as potential problems your are facing (a functional medicine doctor can guide you) and TAKE ACTION. Taking action in the appropriate manner can help you restore bowel function and subsequently your health. Remember that medicating the symptoms away without finding the origin of the problem is a big mistake.
Here are my top supplements for helping restore bowel function once you have addressed the above issues:
- Ultra Nutrients – a potent gluten free multivitamin to help protect against nutritional deficiencies.
- UltraImmune IgG – a potent antibody formula to help prevent infection and leaky gut.
- GI Restore – for intense cases of constipation, this supplement helps to get the bowels moving again
- Biotic Defense – a potent probiotic to help maintain healthy levels of good bacteria.
- Ultra Omega – a potent formula designed to aid in the normal inflammation response. This is a common problem for those with post infection IBS.
- Max Digest – an enzyme blend that helps break down difficult to digest grains, sugars, proteins, fats, and lectins.