Irritable bowel syndrome: 5 ways to break the cycle.

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Is IBS a true disorder?

My own personal experience with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that led to my ulcerative colitis is that eating too much processed solid foods and canned food products will have a load up of toxins in your bowels that is hard to rid yourself of. So much so that millions of people in America and Great Britain are prisoners of their own intestines, suffering from IBS. The thing is, most IBS sufferers fail to seek treatment because many do not believe IBS is a true disorder.

Misery the Name of the Game

IBS causes misery for those suffering from it. 60% of IBS patients have chronic diarrhea, while the rest are chronically constipated. This all leads back to the processed meats with toxic material contained in it as well as the canned goods pumped up with preservatives to prolong shelf life. A few IBS sufferers alternate between the two conditions that happened to be my case. I experienced abdominal pain, bloating and gastritis that was an embarrassment to say the least.

Must Curtail Social Events

Fortunately, even severe IBS doesn’t cause serious damage. However, the symptoms can be so disruptive that they force some people to cut back on social events which was my dilemma because of the constant gas. I remember one dinner gathering at my house for a birthday so gaseous that I blamed it on the dog. Sometimes the condition was so difficult to control that I was afraid to even leave the house for fear of a gas attack that would leave residents of my town retching and gasping for fresh air.

It’s Physical – Mental – Sometimes Both

Medical professionals generally agree that IBS has both a physiological and a psychological element to it. No one has been able to pinpoint the exact cause of IBS, but several interesting associations recently have come to light.

Dr. Frissora investigative study found that IBS is a chemical imbalance in the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is a second nervous system, present in all vertebrates, which manages the digestive system. The imbalance cause the ENS to fail to communicate with the central nervous system, causing a breakdown in normal bowel function.

Triggered by Specific Event

It appears that up to 30% of IBS cases are triggered by a specific event, for example: a course of antibiotics – a severe gastrointestinal infection like food poisoning – a traumatic event like a physical assault. Hormones, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, can also trigger long term IBS.

5 Ways To Break the Cycle

Lifestyle changes can make a dramatic difference for those who have IBS. Dr. Frissora advises the following for all types of IBS…

1. Follow a careful diet plan. Avoid fast foods and other high fat temptations like carbonated beverages and drinks sweetened with sorbitol or fructose.
2. Give up alcohol and foods made with high fructose corn syrup. These make symptoms worse.
3. Don’t chew gum; it introduces excess air into your system and exacerbates symptoms.
4. Exercise on a regular schedule at least three times a week for an hour. Joining a gym would be a good idea.
5. If you smoke, quit. Smoking introduces many carcinogens into your system and is not healthful internally.

Constipation

IBS patients with constipation often find that supplements containing magnesium loosens the stool. These patients also should avoid wheat and dairy products, which aggravate symptoms.

 

Resources for this article were gleaned from Christine Frissora, MD, associate professor of medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital & Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City.

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