Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or “IBS” for short – This seems to have been a “buzzword” for quite some time now. I remember first hearing it and thinking to myself, “sounds like an unknown that needs a label!” Well, I think most people have heard this term now, but the following are the symptoms associated with IBS:
- Abdominal Pain or Discomfort
This is really an umbrella term, with many different conditions and diagnoses associated with it. The most common are:
- Lactose Intolerance
- Fructose Malabsorption
- Coeliac (Celiac) Disease
Having one or more of the above conditions can be a roadblock to your health and wellness, if not addressed properly.
Lactose intolerance is not only a well known condition but very common. It is where a person doesn’t have appropriate levels of lactase, the enzyme required for the breakdown of lactose (milk sugar). For people with lactose intolerance, eating lactose can cause symptoms of bloating, stomach cramps, loose stools, diarrhoea, nausea and flatulence. Avoiding dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream will decrease the amount of lactose in the diet and therefore decrease the symptoms.
Lesser known, but making more headlines lately is Fructose Malabsorption. It is similar to lactose intolerance but with Fructose Malabsorption, a person has impaired ability to absorb fructose, (fruit sugar). This results in fructose passing through the intestines and being fermented by bacteria, causing both gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal bloating/cramps, constipation, loose stools, diarrhoea or flatulence) and increased proliferation of certain intestinal bacteria and yeast which metabolise fructose.
The most common fruits with high fructose that should be avoided are: apples, pears, guavas, mangoes, watermelon, lychees, pawpaw.
Note, Fructose Malabsorption is not to be confused with Fructose Intolerance. Fructose Intolerance is a hereditary condition in which there are deficient liver enzymes to break fructose up. In patients with Fructose Malabsorption, the small intestine fails to absorb fructose properly. This results in excess hydrogen caused by an overgrowth of otherwise normal intestinal bacteria.
Coeliac Disease is from an intolerance to gluten. It is a disease of malabsorption (nutrients not absorbed properly) as well as having an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Coeliac Disease can be hereditary. The small intestine is unable to absorb nutrients from food. Diagnosis can be difficult because of the similarity of other symptoms, but blood tests are used to help in the diagnosis.
With all of these, Lactose Intolerance, Fructose Malabsorption and Coeliac Disease, you may start by being your own detective and making a food diary; noting which foods trigger which symptoms can be very helpful. This can help strengthen the practitioner-patient relationship.
Let me encourage you if you have any of these symptoms to start listening to your body and taking note. Then seek a health practitioner to assist in the proper diagnosis and management to get you on the path of health and wellness.
Chiropractic treatment has helped in many cases to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, allowing patients to lead more active lives; however chiropractic cannot cure these diseases.