Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): The Search For Relief Part 2

IBS: The Search For Relief Part 2Pin
IBS: The Search For Relief Part 2

My Elimination Diet Update

For those of you who didn’t read Part 1, I’m in the middle of a 23 day elimination diet to see if anything I’m eating is causing my IBS symptoms. First, I have to say that an elimination diet is very challenging, especially until you figure out what you CAN eat.

Since I also struggle with emotional eating, I have twice been tempted and succumbed to that temptation by eating a doughnut and a piece of pizza. Both times, I felt like I had swallowed a brick. This morning after the pizza slice, I was so groggy getting out of bed. Yuck!

I know that wheat is a problem. I’m not sure about cheese. I know I cannot tolerate milk. I bought a loaf of gluten-free bread so I could have toast and sandwiches. No tummy problems after eating the gluten-free bread!

While doing this diet, I’ve been researching more about IBS.

“Solving The IBS Puzzle” Review

I just finished reading Solving The IBS Puzzle: A Patient’s Guide to Treating IBS From Diagnosis to Treatment by Sylvie McCracken. This book is the result of a lot of research while she struggled with her own battle with IBS. There are loads of information about the possible causes and various treatments for IBS in her book. Much of this information was new to me.

It consists of 4 parts:

  • What is IBS?
  • Understanding the Gut
  • Causes of IBS
  • Curing IBS

I didn’t realize just how complex our digestive systems are! There are many things that can go wrong, and they then impact other functions like falling dominos.  We’re certainly wonderfully made.

Sylvie tells us that IBS is primarily a condition due to motility issues in our gut. If we have IBS with diarrhea, our gut empties too fast. If we have IBS with constipation, our gut empties too slowly.

She spends a lot of time discussing how our digestive system works; goes over the gut-brain connection which I had never heard of; and covers the role of bacteria in our gut.

Our Gut Has It’s Own Brain!

We’ve probably all heard of the sympathetic nervous system-the one that controls our fight-or-flight response to stress. And the parasympathetic nervous system-the one that functions when we are resting. But there is an enteric nervous system that can function independently from the brain.

The enteric nervous system (ENS) is “in charge of controlling digestion,” and gut related immune functions. For example, you eat something with dangerous bacteria in it. Your ENS speeds up gut motility to get rid of them, resulting in diarrhea. That motion is called peristalsis.

There is another type of motion in our gut, called the migrating motor complex or MMC. This movement occurs after we haven’t eaten anything for about 4-5 hours. The wave-like movements push undigested food and waste out of our stomach and small intestine. Our gut-brain (ENS) controls this process. “During MMC, there are also increases in gastric (stomach), biliary gallbladder), and pancreatic (pancreas) secretions.” It is thought that these secretions help get rid of excess bacteria.

“Studies have shown that people with IBS have disrupted MMC,” so we don’t clean out our stomach and small intestine like we should.

Causes of IBS

Then she explores the causes of this disruption in motility. She has a whole chapter devoted to each cause:

  • the post-infection theory- after bacterial gastrointestinal infection-ie. food poisoning
  • small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • antibiotic use
  • poor diet
  • stress

The most note-worthy thing I learned in these chapters, is that “84% of IBS patients test positive for SIBO.” No one knows if IBS predisposes one to SIBO or if many IBS patients are just misdiagnosed when what they really have is SIBO. SIBO is a “recent discovery with its connection to constipation only being uncovered in 2004.” SIBO causes a great deal of bloating, like looking 6 months pregnant. It can be detected via a breath test.

Curing IBS

In the final chapters of the book, Sylvie discusses available treatments and their pros and cons. The most important take-away for me was that everyone is different, so that we each have to experiment and fine-tune what works for us. I really wanted there to be a straight forward, easy solution. It doesn’t exist.

She covers several diets, probiotics, prokinetics, and fecal transplants as methods to reset our gut bacteria. Each method has its own chapter. She pulls it all together with her IBS Action Plan at the end. Prolific references are available at the end of this book for further reading.

This book is an excellent place to start as we unravel what has caused our IBS and how we can calm it down. I read this book voluntarily and I receive no compensation for recommending it.


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Till next time, Kathy

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By Kathryn

I'm a writer, disabled registered nurse, and former home school parent of 6 children ages 19 to 32. I'm also a domestic abuse survivor.

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