IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Smart Nutrition specialise in the treatment of IBS.

As many as 20% of the adult population have symptoms of IBS, and it’s one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. IBS occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50% of people.

Our current medical models and institutions are poorly equipped to deal with the challenges IBS presents. They often fail to cure the condition and leave people to struggle with painful, debilitating and life-limiting symptoms. 

Symptoms

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort

Marked change in bowel habit (loose stools, diarrhoea and/or constipation) for at least six months

Symptoms that are experienced on at least three days of at least three months

For a complete diagnosis, two or more of the following symptoms must apply:

Pain that is relieved by a bowel movement

The onset of pain is related to a change in frequency of stool

This definition, known as the Rome III Criteria, was created by the the Rome Foundation. This independent nonprofit organisation provides support for activities that create scientific data and educational information that assist in the diagnosis and treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). The Rome Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of people with functional GI disorders

What is the cause of your IBS?

  Your own individual health picture or jigsaw puzzle 

Over the past decade, Smart Nutrition have seen thousands of people with IBS. Each person has had their own individual set of symptoms and probable causes; no two people are ever exactly the same.

This is one of the reasons that IBS can be such a challenge to deal with within the current medical model.

Smart Nutrition always talk in terms of a person’s individual health picture.  This is comprised of many different factors and influences and although the majority of IBS patients share quite a few of these, the relevance to that individual is always different.

Below is a list of some of the probable pieces that need to be investigated when looking for solutions to IBS.

Contributory factors

Poor digestion: an inability to digest food completely can lead to a range of different digestive symptoms. For example, if we cannot digest fats correctly, fatty meals can leave us feeling nauseous, bloated with discomfort and can lead to a fast transit time – meaning diarrhoea, often with light-coloured and smelly stools, is a common problem.

If proteins aren’t digested properly, a feeling of fullness higher up and bloating or indigestion is often experienced.  IBS sufferers often feel that food is still present in the stomach the day after a heavy protein meal, such as steak, has been eaten.

Problems with carbohydrate digestion can lead to bloating and discomfort just below the stomach or lower down in the belly.  This is often due to the body not being able to break down different sugars found in foods, but may be due to digestive tract bacteria fermenting the carbohydrates and producing a lot of gas.  

The GI Effects Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis analyses the efficiency of your digestive process, and can help to determine whether this is an area you need to address.

This test determines your ability to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates, and looks at the health of your gut wall as this is closely linked to food intolerance. It also includes inflammatory markers to help differentiate between IBS and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) by checking for blood or mucous in the stool. Levels of good and bad bacteria are also checked (see Dysbiosis below) as ruling out parasites is an important part of addressing IBS.

Dysbiosis: an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, yeast and/or intestinal parasites in the bowel is the cause of many IBS symptoms and can greatly exacerbate the condition.

A bowel infection may simply be something you picked up on holiday or a consequence of poor dietary habits and compromised immunity.  Either way, the offending invaders are easily identified with the specialist Gut Pathogen Test (which is also included in the Comprehensive Stool Test above). 

Yeast overgrowth: an overgrowth of unfriendly yeast such as Candida or Rhodotorula, Glabrata or Geotrichum can cause many of the symptoms of IBS and greatly exacerbate the condition.

Find more information about Candida or yeast overgrowth click here or please click the button below to purchase the test.

Parasites: around a third of people who come to see Smart Nutrition for help with IBS test positive for parasites. If you’ve had a bout of food poisoning or have travelled abroad and experienced an upset stomach whilst away, parasites may be the cause or a contributory factor for your IBS.  

If you have symptoms such as loose stools, abdominal pain, lack of energy and a lot of gurgling and churning in the gut – especially if these happen on a cyclical basis – parasites may well be the problem.

For more information about parasites please click here.

Even if your NHS stool test did not find parasites, Smart Nutrition’s sophisticated testing often locates those that have been missed. We therefore recommend this test even if the NHS have ruled parasites out.

Sensitivity to foods, additives or medicines: IBS suffers may have colons that are sensitive and reactive to foods, additives and medications that may not bother other people. 

Smart Nutrition recommend aFood Allergy or Intolerance Test if you think you have a food allergy or intolerance.  You may also want to consider a blood test to check reactions to common food additives.  

The food Intolerence test checks for reactions to proteins in foods. Recent research has found that some people have a problem with sugars in foods, which is addressed by the new FODMAP diet (explained below). Because there are a range of different sugars that people can react to, it’s advisable to begin by avoiding them all and reintroducing them group by group with the help of a nutritional therapist.

FODMAPs: those who are sensitive to FODMAPs (certain sugars found in foods) absorb these poorly in the small intestine, meaning that they move along into the large intestine without being appropriately digested. Here they react with both healthy and unhealthy bacteria to produce unwanted gas.

FODMAPs also act like a sponge in the large intestine, drawing and holding excess fluid which can lead to bloating, wind, loud and volatile digestive noises, loose stool and, depending on the type of gas produced, constipation.

Fermentable FODMAPs include:

Oligosaccharides (eg Fructans and Galactans)
Disaccharides (eg Lactose)
Monosaccharides (eg excess Fructose)
Polyols (eg Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt)

It’s possible to test for lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption, but an exclusion diet is the cheapest way to find out if these are a factor in your IBS.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO): one study of more than 200 patients IBS patients found that 78% tested positive for SIBO. Of those successfully treated for SIBO, 48% no longer met the Rome criteria for IBS.

SIBO refers to a condition in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria are present in the small intestine. Symptoms of SIBO are bloating that usually occurs higher up soon after eating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal cramping,  burping after food, fatty stools and a lot of noise and gurgling.

Coeliac disease: researchers have found very mild coeliac disease in some people with symptoms similar to IBS.

People with coeliac disease cannot digest gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye and barley – their immune system responds by damaging the gut.

Coeliac disease can be identified with a simple blood test.  If confirmed, Smart Nutrition can work with you to repair your gut lining and adjust to living on a gluten free diet.

Stress: feeling mentally or emotionally tense, troubled, angry or overwhelmed can stimulate digestive spasms in people with IBS – think the cramps or “butterflies” associated with being nervous or upset.

The gut has many nerves that connect it to the brain. These nerves control the normal digestive contractions and can cause abdominal discomfort at stressful times. In people with IBS, the colon can be overly responsive to even slight conflict or stress.

If stress may be contributing to your condition, an Adrenal Stress Test can help pinpoint precise imbalances that can then be targeted with diet and lifestyle changes.

Imbalanced female hormones: researchers have found that women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods, suggesting that reproductive hormones can increase IBS symptoms. Imbalances in female hormones can therefore make IBS symptoms worse.

If your symptoms are worse around menstruation, imbalanced hormones may be a contributory factor. A Smart Nutrition consultation helps to address IBS and any underlying hormonal imbalances – please click the link at the bottom of the page.

Back problems and poor posture: the vagus nerve is responsible for the automatic part of your digestion – the mixing and churning of food, stimulation of the production of digestive juices and the movement of food along the digestive tract. Back problems can hinder this nerve and impair digestive function.

Chemotherapy: whilst chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also damages our own body cells – particularly those in the gut. This can make it more sensitive and reactive.

If you are undergoing or recovering from chemotherapy, Smart Nutrition can work with you to support your digestion and overall wellbeing.

Leaky gut: a healthy gut lining prevents certain molecules from passing into the bloodstream. In IBS this can be compromised.

The Leaky Gut Test assesses how well your gut functions to protect your health, and gives an analysis of intestinal permeability.

Useful Links

Please do not return samples to the laboratories that may arrive after Wednesday 27th March and up to and including Monday 2nd April.

The laboratories are closed from the 28th March – 2nd April for the Easter Holiday.