Have you ever noticed a pattern of feeling bloated, constipated or pain in your stomach and can’t quite figure out why? You may have heard of certain conditions linked to the gastrointestinal tract such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, and Crohn’s disease. It can be confusing to distinguish the difference between them because they all have similar symptoms and they all contribute to damage to GI. While these issues have been around forever, they are just now starting to get recognized and diagnosed in the modern world. Before you go ahead and diagnose yourself, here’s a closer look into each type of digestive disorder and where they all stem from.
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME:
IBS is often used as a “garbage can” diagnosis since there is no lab test that can actually confirm if someone has IBS or not, rather it is characterized by its symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Gut dysbiosis or lack of healthy bacteria in the gut is also one of the biggest problems seen in those with IBS. It can be triggered by prolonged anxiety, stressful life events, physiological stress, food sensitivities, abnormalities in the gut, and infections.
How is IBS treated?
Conventional treatment for IBS that a medical professional might prescribe includes anti-diarrheal, anti-spasmodic and anticholinergic medications, which work by suppressing the symptoms. In many cases, the side effects of these medications can be even worse than the initial symptoms, and even so, they are not treating the underlying cause. Since IBS is a syndrome that is also known as a collection of various symptoms, it is likely that the cause of the issue is different for every individual. Common triggers include SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), damaged gut lining, disrupted gut microbiota, food intolerances, or infections. It can be quite frustrating to determine the actual cause and many people spend extensive resources looking for answers. A clear-cut and customized way to find out what is causing symptoms of IBS is to get your body assessed with Nutrition Response Testing.
Crohn’s disease is categorized as a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), where the body’s own immune system attacks parts of the digestive system. It causes inflammation of the GI tract and damage to the colon. Symptoms include loss of appetite, chronic diarrhea (sometimes bloody) cramping, pain in the abdomen, and weight loss. Stress can worsen symptoms but doesn’t necessarily cause the disease.
What might trigger Crohn’s disease symptoms?
It affects every individual differently. It might be a kind of bacteria, a foreign substance in your own intestines, or even your family history. IBD is much more severe than IBS and can lead to blood in stool and nutritional deficiencies long term due to malabsorption. It is important to understand the underlying reasons why the immune system began attacking itself (the gut is an important part of the immune system) and address those issues. Nutrition Response Testing can provide those answers and so that it stays in remission for long periods of time.
LEAKY GUT/ INTESTINAL PERMEABILITY
Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is when there is damage to the intestinal lining. This makes it difficult to absorb nutrients and biological substances and allows bacteria, toxins, and undigested proteins and fats to leak out of the intestines and into the bloodstream. You can think of it like having the gates broken from your intestines to your bloodstream, where many of these particles that should never have been able to enter have now gotten through. This creates a big problem, as the majority of your immune system is found in the gut.
The result of leaky gut often causes a variety of symptoms such as abdominal bloating, gas, cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes and is often a precursor to autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s. As you may have noticed, many of these symptoms are identical to those of IBS and Crohn’s disease, which explains why having leaky gut is often thought of as a cause or trigger of IBS and Crohn’s disease. What might cause your gut lining to become damaged in the first place? Common triggers include chronic inflammation, food sensitivities, damage from taking medications (especially NSAIDS) and antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, or a compromised immune system.
Where do you go from here?
Many foods and external factors are known to trigger inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. People often report a decrease in symptoms when they cut down or eliminate on foods such as wheat, corn, beef, soy, stimulants, dairy, non-nutritive sweeteners, and food additives. You can find more information here on how to identify food sensitivities. It is also important to keep in mind that stress and other lifestyle factors can greatly increase inflammation in the body, which in turn will cause flare-ups of GI symptoms. Fermented foods, which have been around for years are also known to help restore the healthy bacterial colonies found within the gastrointestinal tract.
Identifying root causes of GI symptoms
Before you go ahead and start eliminating everything out of your diet, consider coming in to get your body’s organ system checked. Not only can Nutrition Response Testing help identify foods that don’t react well with your system, it can also help pinpoint which organs are under stress and why. Healing the body’s organs correctly with shifts in diet and appropriate nutritional supplementation for your body will initiate healing from the inside out, without drugs or surgeries, and your symptoms will begin to improve.