What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome? What Are the Symptoms? 

Irritable bowel syndrome is gastrointestinal disorder that occurs more often in women than men.

Individuals with IBS may experience various symptoms such as:

  • Chronic constipation,
  • Chronic diarrhea,
  • Flatulence, bloating,
  • Psychological problems,
  • Skin disorders
  • Stomach problems

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional rather than structural disorder.

The main function of the intestines is the absorption of nutrients and the passage of these  nutrients into the bloodstream. However, since the intestinal function is impaired, these functions cannot be performed properly. In this case, the individual feels physical discomfort, his work  and social life are affected, and the quality of life decreases.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 

Although we don’t know the main cause of irritable bowel syndrome yet, the following factors can play a role in the occurrence of irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Transferred diseases
  • Irregular and poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Excessive use of antibiotics

Who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

We can see irritable bowel syndrome in almost everyone due to less nutritious food, increased stress levels, and sedentary life style.

It is more common in individuals living in developed cities than in individuals living in rural areas. Studies have also shown that it is more common in women than men.

What Are the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Chronic constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, skin problems and psychological disorders can be observed in individuals with this syndrome, as well as a decrease in quality of life in some individuals.

Тhere are 3 IBS subtypes:

  • Constipation based IBS (IBS-C)
  • Diarrhea based IBS (IBS-D)
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation  (IBS-mix)

How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed? 

It is quite difficult to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, since it is a complex disorder and its symptoms can be attributed to many other diseases.

We are using The Rome IV criteria to evaluate the symptoms. The Rome IV criteria for the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome require that patients have had at least two of the following symptoms on average at least 1 day per week during the previous 3 months:

  • Recurrent abdominal pain
  • Relief with defecation
  • Change in the form (appearance) of stool
  • Change in stool consistency

What Is the Relationship between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Nutrition? 

Irritable bowel syndrome affects the digestive system  by

  • interfering with the absorption of nutrients, vitamins and minerals taken with food
  • interfering with the production of vitamins of group B, which are important for the body

It also

  • weakens the immune system weaken
  • decreases the body resistance
  • disrupts carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism

Nutritional therapy in IBS should be personalized and symptom-oriented. All of the following should be evaluated on an individual basis.

  • Daily routines
  • Eating habits
  • Present symptoms (constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, weakness, skin discomfort)

 What is the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet? 

Diet recommended for IBS patients is designed according to the person’s symptoms.

The FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet is based on restricting dietary intake of oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols that can be fermented.

IBS patients following the low FODMAP diet for a period of 3-4 weeks report a decrease in gas and bloating

Following the low FODMAP diet for a long time

  • Causes insufficient intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Is quite difficult to commit to
  • Negatively affect the gut microbiome.

Gluten-Free Diet

The effect of gluten on IBS is still unclear. Although a significant number of IBS patients do not have celiac or wheat allergies, they have a “non-celiac gluten sensitivity”.

  • Some of these patients respond positively to a gluten-free diet.
  • Various studies have reported that 4-8 weeks of gluten restriction regulates IBS symptoms and daily bowel movements, reduces intestinal permeability.
  • In addition to the beneficial results of a gluten-free diet, some studies have also shown increased risk of cardiovascular diseases caused by the restriction of grains.

 

The Elimination Diet

In the elimination diet, gluten, lactose, fermentable carbohydrates, polyols, possible allergens and certain foods that can trigger symptoms are removed from the diet for a certain period of time. It is then re-introduced to the diet in order according to the person’s tolerance.

One study has found that people with severe IBS symptoms tend to follow a restricted diet or an elimination diet. However, it was noted that these diets lead to decreased microbiome diversity.

 

Microbiome-Based Nutrition as a New Approach

Our microbiome structure is as unique, as our fingerprint. Irritable bowel syndrome, like our microbiome structure, manifests itself in each of us with different symptoms and with different sensitivities.

Sometimes the disruption of the microbiome balance negatively affects the absorption of nutrients, sometimes it causes disruptions in the brain-gut axis.  In this case, a detailed microbiome analysis can reveal which group of bacteria was the problem.

An individual diet program is created based on the recommended nutrients to improve the group of bacteria that caused the microbiome imbalance.

 

How to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 

Drug therapy and nutritional therapy are the most basic metods to treat irritable bowel syndrome

Doctors are prescribing drug therapy according to the individual’s symptoms. Patients with constipation are taking laxatives , and  patients with diarrhea are taking antidiarrheal drugs.

We can use nutritional therapy also to treat IBS. Like drug therapy it is also personalized and the following problems are considered when using it:

  • Symptoms experienced by the individual
  • Weakened immune system due to irritable bowel syndrome
  • Impaired carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism

The main reason for these problems is impaired microbiome structure. Our bacteria, that are greater in number than our own cells, need to be well-balanced.

The nutrients we consume enter the bloodstream through the microbiome. In other words, the bacteria in our microbiome  ensure the absorption of nutrients from the intestines into the bloodstream. Impaired microbiome structure means that the healthy absorption of nutrients cannot be maintained.

If effective nutrient absorption does not occur, we may encounter undesirable health conditions such as weakening of the immune system (due to nutrient deficiency), skin problems and mental problems. These are the very symptoms that we are referring to when we speak about IBS symptoms.

Studies have shown that individualized nutrition programs aimed at improving the IBS microbiome have more permanent and more sustainable effect than drug use.

ENBIOSIS is designing nutrition programs that are most suitable for you. Our expert dietitians, working in the field of microbiome, examine your intestinal bacteria with the help of artificial intelligence supported microbiome analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions about Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

We have compiled the questions that people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome often ask

How to Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. However, it has been shown that identifying which microbiome problem causes the symptoms and feeding your microbiome with foods specific to its needs, can improve the symptoms in 78% of cases.

What Happens If IBS Is Not Treated? 

If left untreated, IBS may cause many other problems such as.

  • Nutritional deficiencies in the body
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Disruption of carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism

In case of worsening, IBS can cause

  • Excess weight gain
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney diseases

What Cures IBS? 

A proper diet will be the most effective thing you can do for your irritable bowel syndrome. This will require getting to know metabolism and microbiome structure.

Which Doctor To See For IBS? 

The gastroenterology department can help you with your intestinal problems. However, depending on your symptoms, the gastroenterologist may refer you to other departments.

How Long Does IBS Last? 

It is quite difficult to say anything definite about the duration of the disease. Since each case is different, health proffesionals should conside on a case-by-case basis.

The recovery period also depends on both the severity of your symptoms and your response to treatment.

 

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