The treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
In previous blogs I have covered specific foods to avoid in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An overall bad diet of white sugar, white flour and white fat found in many packaged and highly processed foods can disrupt the ecology of the gut by turning non-harmful bacteria into harmful bacteria. We all carry about 3-4 pounds of bacteria in our intestine and colon that contain greater than 100,000 billion bacteria of about 500 different types–many more cells than our whole body. These bacteria can work for us or against us depending upon our diet and usage of antibiotics. The total of these bacteria is called our microbiome which also includes bacteria on our skin surfaces. If there is an overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria they can change the molecular structure of the food we eat causing reactions to that food. This is called an acquired food sensitivity i.e. you weren’t born with it. This imbalance can result in diarrhea, constipation, skin problems, headaches, joint and muscle pains, bloating and even heart disease.
So an important treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy but not through the highly advertised yogurts on TV. I recommend plain yogurt since the flavored kinds have very little of the beneficial bacteria. I may recommend a special stool test not performed by local laboratories to get levels of good and potentially bad bacteria. Then I will know which specific types of good bacteria to recommend. Many times a person will say “I have been taking this kind, is it good?”. When the test will come back and shows very low levels of the good bacteria I will recommend highly researched probiotics available only through health care professionals for them. They will need to take it for six months or longer. People with IBS seldom have just that as a health problem, and tend to have other conditions that are in some way related to disrupted bacteria in their gut. Helping your gut bacteria is essential for treating irritable bowel syndrome.