Friday, January 15, 2016

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Autoimmune Disorder

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) is miserable, no matter what you call it. Characterized by bouts of diarrhea, bloating, cramping, or even constipation. This problem makes it hard to function day to day in our fast paced world. That fast pace may be one of the reasons there seems to be an epidemic of this problem.

Many people  feel IBS is an autoimmune problem, where the body is attacking the lining of the intestines and causing these problems. There are other things in our world today that may be doing the attacking, and not our own system.

One is a lack of good bacteria in our systems. Although our germ phobic culture has labeled all bacteria bad there are actually some that are indefensible to good health. These bacteria live on our skin, but mostly they live in our gut. Gut is a 'scientific' term that we use to describe the whole digestive system, from the mouth all the way to the anal opening where waste products exit the body. Most people are referring to the intestines when they talk about the gut. Taking all our systems into account there are some estimates that there are over ten times as many bacteria in our bodies as there are human cells. Most of these bacteria are working for us, not against us.

Many different things can kill the good bacteria in our systems. Fluoridated water, chlorinated water, heavy metals, antibiotics, sugar, food additives found in processed foods. All of these add up to constantly destroy these little guys that mean so much to our good health. You may be thinking that you haven't taken antibiotics in years, but if you eat commercially grown meat, eggs and dairy you are eating antibiotics on a daily basis.

Other things that increase the tendency towards IBS is being low on certain nutrients. Vitamin D is one of those nutrients. Some people have a hard time calling Vitamin D a nutrient because we cannot get it from the food we eat. Our bodies manufacture it from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunshine. If it is winter, rainy, we work indoors, we play indoors, or we use sunscreen we are more than likely low on Vitamin D. Lucky for us that don't live in the tropics we can supplement vitamin D orally. The standard dosage seems to be 5000 units a day. This is high enough to meet most needs, but low enough to keep us from accumulating and storing too much. There is some controversy as to what is too much. Some scientists put an upper limit, but they can't tell us what the toxicity symptoms would be.

Another nutrient that plays a part in this digestive problem seems to be magnesium. The overdose symptoms of magnesium are cramping and diarrhea, but that only occurs if you supplement orally. Topical supplementation of this mineral insures that you cannot overdose. Magnesium is critical for the proper working of all muscles. This includes the muscles that move food and waste products through the intestines. A lack of tone in these muscles could cause both diarrhea and constipation.

To heal the gut and eliminate the uncomfortable episodes of IBS begins with changing the diet. Eliminating sugar, grains, and most dairy seems to help most people. In addition to that you would probably benefit from introducing supplements of Vitamin D, probiotics and magnesium. Supplementing digestive enzymes has also helped. In addition a diet based on fermented foods, grass fed meats and eggs, and plenty of fresh vegetables have helped many.

Eating during an attack of IBS seems counterproductive. You aren't hungry and the food just seems to make the problems worse. Many doctors recommend eating many small meals at this time. Another approach would be to practice intermittent fasting. Get plenty of water, and some probiotic liquids and don't worry about putting anything solid into your system. Unless you are extremely under weight with severe nutritional deficiencies a day without eating will be of benefit. Studies show that resting your digestive tract increases its efficiency, and improves your metabolic rate.

Reducing stress also seems to help. Try reducing stress on a day to day basis through exercise and other coping skills. During an episode go even further. Put on your most relaxing music and climb into a bath tub with Epsom salts and lavender essential oils. If just laying there makes you antsy instead of relaxed bring a relaxing book with you. Schoolwork and heavy subjects need to be put aside. Pick something that will either make you laugh or cry. Both a great stress relievers.

There are a lot of good things we can do for our health on our own without having to see a doctor.  If you are in doubt about something check with your doctor to see if it would be harmful. If it won't hurt you give it a try.