Understanding the top 4 underlying causes of IBS
(and what you can do about it)
By Jacqui Pariset, MD, founder of Omnia Health A lot of patients come to our practice because they are struggling with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some have lived with it for years. Their life is ruled by diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, cramps, and fatigue. These patients are miserable, frustrated and, unfortunately, practically tethered to a bathroom. When we talk with patients about IBS, they are surprised to learn that it’s actually a constellation of symptoms – not a distinct disease – and that it has a number of underlying causes. As a result, resolving IBS is not a “one size fits all” approach. From a functional medicine standpoint, the key is identifying the underlying cause of each individual patient’s IBS, then addressing those specific issues to heal their gut.
Here are the main causes of IBS that we find with our patients:
- Dysbiosis – Your gut has untold numbers of good and bad bacteria (known as microbiome). The good bacteria are essential to digestion. However, the bad bacteria (the “bugs”) are not supposed be there. When we test patients, we have discovered parasites, yeast, and even worms. If we find dysbiosis, we treat it accordingly. Our goal is to put your gut back in a healthy state with a healthy microbiome.
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – This is the overgrowth of good bacteria from the colon, which have migrated up into the small intestine. Now happily relocated in the small intestine, they wreak all types of havoc: gas, bloating, maldigestion, and malabsorption of nutrients. In fact, it’s common for people with SIBO to have B-12 deficiency. For patients with SIBO, we have a specific treatment plan to reestablish a healthy biome and encourage the good bacteria to stay where they belong.
- Unknown food sensitivities – I’m gluten intolerant, but I didn’t know this for a long, long time. I thought it was strange that, after I ate gluten, my hands would hurt and my joints would ache. After studying functional medicine and nutrition, I found out why: Food sensitivities can cause chronic inflammation in our gut. (Science is discovering that this is way more common than we ever realized!) In our practice, we see that food sensitivities are a huge driver of chronic GI inflammation. Over time, the issue builds up and causes all the symptoms of IBS.
- Stress – Given our society, you may not be able to completely remove stress from your life. But know this: Chronic stress can kill you. For many of our patients, a high stress level is the underlying cause of IBS. If we discover it’s the cause of your GI issue, then our health coaches will help you learn how to manage stress, so it doesn’t affect your long-term health and wellbeing.
Here are the top 5 offenders:
Several of these foods are common filler ingredients in many processed foods. You may not realize how frequently you’re eating these hidden, insidious offenders. But there’s good news: We can identify your food sensitivity, work with you to remove that food from your diet, and help you heal your gut.
If you struggle with IBS, what can you do? Take steps to identify the cause, heal your gut, and live your best life!When you team with a functional medicine doctor, you CAN get better. We see it every day in our practice. The key is to work with someone who knows how to address these issues. At Omnia Health, our first step is to figure out EXACTLY what’s going on. We’ll work hard to identify the underlying cause of your IBS symptoms, then team with you to heal your gut. Let’s address it and tackle it – so you can live your best life!