Types Of IBS Causes And Your Best Solutions

types of IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, has become the go-to, catch-all diagnosis for any digestive complaints that don’t have an obvious cause/solution. However, the types of IBS causes and solutions vary from patient to patient.

Common IBS Symptoms Include:

To put it simply, IBS refers to a dysfunctional digestive tract. So, if you or your child have been given this diagnosis, it is likely that you were told the same generalized advice;

“It is stress related and to resolve it you need to better manage your stress.”

Sadly, this is very common response and often doesn’t fully help the problem. Now, I agree that stress is absolutely a big factor in IBS, however it is not the ONLY factor. In fact there are 3 which we need to consider to accurately treat IBS.

3 Major Contributing Factors To IBS

  1. Stress
  2. Unbalanced Microbiomes
  3. Food Sensitivities

Stress Versus Rest And Digest

To understand IBS, we need to understand the basics of digestion which is;

digestion occurs when we are at a RESTED state

To be more specific, it occurs when we activate our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) a.k.a. rest and digest. This is our recovery mode where we nourish and repair our systems.

The PNS sends cues to activate proper digestion such as:

  • Producing stomach acid
  • Releasing digestive enzymes
  • Activating intestinal movement

These are all essential to break down food properly. The PNS is in direct opposition to our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Or in other words, fight or flight.

Our SNS is activated when we are under stress. Biologically, our stress response was designed to respond to physical threats (i.e. running from or fighting off predators). Therefore, our SNS directs all energy to our:

  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Muscles

And slows down “non-essential” functions such as digestion and reproductive function, which of coarse makes sense. Think about it, if you are running from a bear, you don’t need to be digesting your last meal at the same time?

However, the issue is that our current stressors usually are not physical in nature. Therefore, this response is no longer well- adapted. For example, if you get stressed at your morning meeting, you will likely not able to digest your lunch properly.

Why?  Well, when we are chronically stressed and chronically activating our SNS, we lose proper cues to the digestive system. Therefore it is unable to function optimally. In other words, we aren’t able to break down our food properly and end up with:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Balanced Microbes

You cannot have a conversation about IBS without talking about the microbiome. The microbiome are the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that live in our body. Especially our digestive tract. They play crucial role in active digestion as well as being involved in mood regulation signalling.

When it comes to our microbiome, we are mostly concerned about maintaining proper balance. The ratio of different microbes in our gut directly influences our digestive functioning.

Therefore, too much or too little of specific microbes, will throw off proper functioning. So, if the digestive system is not functioning optimally, undigested foods will be consumed by our microbiome producing excessive amounts of gas (i.e. bloating).

Balancing the microbiome is key for effective treatment of most types of IBS symptoms. This might include anti-microbial treatments, probiotics, and specific diets.

To learn more, click here to check out my previous article, What’s The Big Deal About Probiotics?

Food Sensitivities

Our food choices are crucial when it comes to our health. This is especially true when it comes to digestion. When you are dealing with a dysfunctional digestive tract, there are certain foods that are more difficult to digest and thus cause further issues. People with IBS are also more sensitive to certain foods.

Now, food sensitivities are very different from food allergies. However, they are both immune reactions.

Food allergies cause big inflammation throughout the body such as hives, itching, and anaphylaxis. Where as food sensitivities cause small amounts of inflammation specifically in the digestive tract. This irritates our intestinal lining which can cause constipation, diarrhea, and discomfort.

The Most Common Food Sensitivities In Most Types Of IBS

  1. Gluten
  2. Dairy (especially milk, cream, and soft cheeses)
  3. Foods high in preservatives (i.e. prepackaged granola bars, crackers, yogurt)
  4. Foods high in FODMAPs or Fructose

Eliminating these foods on a trial basis while providing support to eliminate the inflammation and damaged caused, is a key step in treating IBS. Quite often you can significantly reduce the number of food sensitivities you have through this temporary elimination when it come to these types of IBS symptoms.

What I Eat in a Day for IBS + Bloating | Elimination Diets 101

Final Thoughts

IBS is both chronic and complex. There is no quick solution thus several different treatment approaches are available. However, with the proper guidance and support, it is possible to live without daily gas, bloating, and pain.

A functional treatment approach to IBS should always include:

  1. Lowering stress and activating the parasympathetic nervous system
  2. Restoring microbiome diversity
  3. Eliminating food sensitivities.

If you’re looking for start taking action today, download my free guide to Beat Bloating in 7 Steps. These are my foundational steps to start re-training your digestive tract and gain control over your IBS.

What Is Gut Microbiome?

gut microbiome

In this article we’re going to explain what exactly is the gut microbiome.  However, before we do let’s dive into how to the gut functions.  When you think about the gut, you might just think of it as part of your “digestive factory” processing the food you ingest. However, this is only a small fraction of what it and your digestive system are responsible for.

healthy gut

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The gastrointestinal tract, also called GI tract for short, is an organ system. It takes the food we eat, digests it to extract and absorb energy and nutrients, and then excretes the remaining waste as feces and urine.

In addition, it acts as a moderator for various important bodily functions. It is quite literally the “core” of our well-being. From immune cells to neurotransmitters. A properly functioning GI tract allows our health to thrive. However, in the same sense, an improperly functioning gut can cause a variety of illnesses and health conditions.

gut health

The Nervous System And Your Gut Microbiome

Contrary to popular belief, your gut actually possesses its own ‘nervous system’. Comprised of its own neurons and ability to produce neurotransmitters. This is called your enteric nervous system, which has been said to function independently of your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Yes, that’s right, your gut quite literally has the means to act as a second brain!

The brain and the gut communicate via two pathways. Neural communications which include the vagus parasympathetic system and systemic communication which include the HPA axis, neurotransmitters, bacterial metabolites, and cytokines.

We have known for a long time that the vagus nerve plays a significant role in the
communication between the two organs. However, the importance of the systemic communication between the two have been also reinforced. In fact, evidence exists that the brain and gut still continue to communicate even when the vagus nerve is severed.

While many believe that the brain is the primary organ in charge of information transmission to the gut, your enteric nervous system actually sends far more information to the brain than it received from it. This reinforces the importance of gut health even further as research now shows that problems in your gut can have a direct impact on mental health.

Click here to read, The Brain In Your Gut .

10 tips for gut health

Gut Feelings

At some point you have probably heard someone say, “I had a gut feeling.” Well, recent research shows that there might be some truth behind this saying. Those butterflies in your stomach actually have a direct correlation with thoughts, emotions and moods.

Although we are not entirely sure how the link between the gut and our mental wellbeing functions, we know that certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) are largely mediated through the good bacteria found in the gut.

As a matter of fact, the gut produces a large quantity of the body’s neurotransmitters! In addition, it also possesses two thirds of the body’s immune tissue, has greater metabolic activity than the liver, and possesses ten times more microbialm cells than human cells!

It also possesses a genome (genetic material) 100 times larger than the human genome. Your body is literally filled with bacteria. Before you freak out—rest assured this is a good thing.

Click here to read, 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health .

Gut Microbiome And The Benefits Of Bacteria

These tiny microorganisms that make up your gut microbiome have an enormous impact on our overall health. Around 100 trillion bacteria live in the gut and provide important benefits such as;

  • Helping you detoxify from the toxins you are exposed to
  • Balancing the nervous system by serving as a source of neurotransmitters
  • Optimizing immune function
  • Absorbing vital nutrients

Most of the time, when we experience problems in these areas, we are quick to blame genetics or age, not realizing how our lifestyles play a big role in our gut health. This ultimately determines the functioning of many of the other systems as mentioned above.

Studies show that a whopping 70% of Americans have digestive related symptoms and diseases. The underlying causes of said gut-related diseases can be rooted back to;

  • Excess toxins
  • Allergens found in food including mold, pollens, and chemicals
  • Microbes such as ticks, yeast and parasites
  • Physical and psychological stress
  • Poor diet and antibiotic overuse

In fact, 40% of all adults and 70% of all children in the U.S. take one or more courses of
antibiotics every year, which wreaks havoc on their gut health and leaves them susceptible to other issues.

For further information click here to read, Gut Problems? 7 Key Steps For Healthy Digestion .