My approach to dealing with IBS
My approach involves assessing the individual as a whole, firstly reviewing diet, lifestyle, family history and genetic susceptibility and environmental influences. We also look at potential trigger points to give clues, this might be exposure to pathogenic bugs such as food poisoning, exposure to bugs while travelling abroad, perhaps even looking at mental and emotional stressors and other immune challenges that may have caused a temporary depression in immune function.
Once the basics have been established the nutrition and functional medicine approach is to follow a fairly structured process individualising it to each and every individual along the way.
This involves looking at removing things that are potentially driving the IBS type symptoms. This might include investigating and addressing certain types of infections or overgrowths, or may mean removing certain foods that seem to trigger reactions, or we have actual evidence of immune or inflammatory responses.
Once we understand what might be provoking your symptoms we can look to address the triggers.
This means replacing certain food, lifestyle and environment challenges with ones that are going to be supportive of your goals. It may also mean supporting the body with specific nutrients or compounds that support digestion if there is evidence of poor digestion symptomatically or through testing.
It is well established now that the types of bacteria we have within us have a significant impact on how our digestive system functions. Ideally the bugs within us coexist in supporting our health. Unfortunately when they get out of balance this can lead to unwanted digestive symptoms.
There are now many ways in which we can help address that imbalance, particularly through the use of selective probiotics and prebiotics and where appropriate these can be used to help repopulate the gut.
Unfortunately a major cause and effect of imbalances in the digestive system is the breakdown of our intestinal lining that protects the inner workings of the body from what is travelling through our digestive tract.
Our digestive lining is like a bouncer on the nightclub door, allowing good things in, kicking bad things out and stopping bad things to get in. When this breaks down and things get into the body that should not this can trigger off systemic immune and inflammatory response that can lead to symptoms throughout the body including changes in mental function, joint pain, autoimmune responses to name a few.
One of the most important areas to work on is supporting the integrity of the lining so that the body no longer feels as if it is constantly under attack from the outside world.
Rebalance is something that is worked on from the start. It involves rebalancing your nutrition, sleep, stress, movement etc for the long term to help support the changes we are making but also to help prevent reoccurrences of IBS issues in the future.
Most people want a magic pill to make themselves feel better, but unfortunately we are much more complex than that, so finding an approach that is unique to you is crucial in the longer term resolution of your symptoms.