Saturday, March 29, 2014

What you may not know about IBS?

Meditation can help with IBS. Make sure you have no fur-kid distractions.
I thought I knew a lot about IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). But what I recently found out (after 10+ years of suffering) has been the most important. Up to 80 percent of the 50 million IBS sufferers in the U.S. may have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

If you have IBS, join me in my journey with my unwanted sidekick, SIBO. There won't be as much variety in food as carbs are limited but we can share what to try, eat and whatever else seems to be helping.

Here's what is commonly known about IBS:

  • I knew IBS caused me stomach pain, severe cramps, bloating, burping, gas, frequent constipation, loose stools, diarrhea and a sense of incomplete evacuation.
  • I knew that symptoms often arrived unexpectedly and trigger foods were unpredictable.
  • I knew it was called a "functional" disorder because they can't find anything physically wrong inside the stomach or intestines.
  • I knew IBS was a diagnosis of "exclusion" because they can't figure out what's causing your symptoms.
  • I knew there were a whole bunch of theories about what causes it including gut motility problems (got it), immune system reactions, atypical brain-gut interactions, overgrowth of candida but no definite connection (got it), food allergies or intolerances (got it).
  • I knew doctors diagnosed IBS based on common symptoms because there is no widely accepted test.
Here's some other stuff I knew that didn't really do me much good:
  •  Diet recommendations were all over the map and not grounded with science; some helped; some made it worse.
  • Eliminating foods based on food intolerances from antibody testing had little bearing on improving symptoms. In fact, studies show poor results (about 10 percent have improvement).
  • Other diets I've tried (low carb, Paleo, FODMAP, SCD) had slightly more success but not enough to declare "eureka!"
  • Drugs have limited effectiveness and numerous side effects (some potentially dangerous).
Here's what has been most important and offers new hope (in the long run, not the short term):
  •  The real cause of IBS symptoms may be gut bacteria or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
  • 78 percent of patients with IBS had SIBO, according to a study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
What is SIBO?
  • SIBO is an abnormally high number of bacteria in the upper part of the small intestine.
  • These bacteria become harmful and produce toxins, enzymes, intestinal gas, disrupt digestion, cause discomfort and damage the small intestine.
  • The symptoms of SIBO are the same as IBS: diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, acid reflux (burping), flatulence, nausea, fatigue.
  • In severe cases, individuals develop leaky gut and autoimmune disease.

Get your sleep while dealing with SIBO

What causes SIBO?
  • Stomach motility issues (slow digestion)
  • antibiotic use
  • reduced stomach acid
  • immune deficiency
  • trouble absorbing carbohydrates such as lactose, fructose
Get plenty of Vitamin D

How do you diagnose SIBO?
  • Most patients with IBS show SIBO through a positive lactulose breath test; in controlled studies, 83 percent had SIBO. (Finding someone to do this testing may prove difficult.)
  • Stool testing also can show overgrowth but you cannot be certain where the harmful bacteria is hanging out, although certain types of bacteria may be indicative.
  • Symptoms and patient history also may be used to diagnose.
How do you deal with SIBO? This is the hard part!!!!
  • Antibiotics have had limited success. In my case, no success.
  • Diet is the only other option. I am using the low fermentation diet plan. This means I limit carbohydrates that have a high fermentation potential (FP). Problematic carbohydrates are lower glycemic, higher fiber, contain certain sugars, and for various other reasons, are hard to digest. These types of food stick around too long and cause fermentation.
What's the prognosis?
  • I have been on the low FP diet for about three months. It was extremely rough going at the start. Now, things are getting easier but I still have some rough days.
  • I cannot paint a perfect picture of this. However, the other diets I have tried did me more harm than good. They tended to be too high in carbs, especially those low glycemic and high fiber, and difficult to digest.
What's next?
Consider looking at SIBO if you have tried everything else, reached the end of your rope or just want to see if this is the answer. More ideas and what to eat can be found in Fast Tract Digestion IBS: a Science-based Diet to Treat and Prevent IBS and SIBO by Norman Robillard, Ph.D.

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