We may be on the cusp of something that’s both promising and effective for IBS treatment. The results are preliminary – and the evidence not bullet-proof – but it’s exciting stuff.
The finding, that food allergies and the genes that cause them may increase risk of IBS with diarrhea, takes us in a new direction. IBS is a mysterious beast, and a punishing one. Between 10 and 15% of Americans live with irritable bowel syndrome and know the pain of being chained to a toilet.
It’s an interesting development, and it makes sense. Food allergies can lead to symptoms that mimic digestion problems like diarrhea. So it’s quite possible this link will lead to further studies, and more importantly, an IBS treatment that works for the millions of folks in desperate need of a solution to their suffering.
New Evidence Links Food Allergies to IBS Diarrhea
The new evidence is two studies. Both were done by the same research team and presented to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting.
Both linked allergic asthma, rhinitis and eczema to diarrhea and bad digestive reactions in certain people with IBS. That’s according to the team, which suggests diagnosis of food allergies for each patient may be an effective treatment for the ailment.
The first study consisted of 122 IBS patients with allergies and 32 people with IBS but no allergies. Those in the former category were more likely to have diarrhea and their main symptom. Curiously, the folks with no allergies tended to suffer from constipation much more than diarrhea
Diarrhea may mimic what happens with food allergies, says the team.
In the second study, researchers did a skin test on 48 people who had IBS with diarrhea – 65% of whom reported digestion problems after eating trigger foods. The test was done to see if their skin reacted to food allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, cereal, meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
The test found that 60% of the subjects’ bodies were ‘primed’ to react to their trigger foods. And their bodies reacted, with symptoms like hives and swelling, nausea and asthma.
The finds suggest that food allergies play a significant role in IBS with diarrhea, though the studies aren’t perfect. Much of the evidence is limited to skin-prick testing, which can’t confirm that a person has food allergies.
Still, even sceptics in the medical community agree that food allergies could lead to irritable bowel syndrome, and that doctors might slowly ease IBS patients into new dietary patterns to reduce its symptoms. That’s something unique to each patient, and which may prove more effective than swatting at symptoms with IBS medications.
So How Do You Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
With patience, an open mind and ongoing communication with your doctor and the people around you. IBS is a finicky creature, and what works for some folks may do nothing for others. That’s why you’ll want to apply this general set of guidelines and experiment, which includes:
Record your symptoms – You need to listen to your body. One of the best ways to do that is with an IBS journal in which you watch and record your symptoms. Write down your bowel habits too, and other daily activities that affect it. Do this for several weeks and share it with your doctor.
Do you see patterns? That’s your body telling you something. Start with that and go from there.
Reduce the Pain
IBS is unique to each person; one person’s trigger food may leave another unscathed. With that said, these tips bring relief to many folks with irritable bowel syndrome:
- Limit caffeine and alcohol
- Reduce your intake of fatty foods
- Limit dairy foods, fruits and artificial sweeteners (if diarrhea is your main symptom)
- Boost fiber intake if you’re constipated
- Avoid foods including beans, cabbage or uncooked cauliflower or broccoli
As well, to prevent IBS your doctor might recommend to:
Exercise – Good for the body, good for the gut. Try something easy, like walking or jogging. Don’t limit yourself to that however – just get moving and do it often. You may find you sleep better, have more energy, and less IBS to go with it.
Quit smoking – There’s really no down side to quitting this nasty habit. Smoking appears to make IBS worse.
Take your medicine – Your doctor may prescribe IBS medicine for cramping, diarrhea, constipation or anxiety.
Reduce stress – Some evidence suggests mindful meditation can reduce IBS by more than 25%.
Note that some people find success with natural IBS products. Try IBS Relief System by Digestive Science, which strikes a good blend of digestive enzymes and probiotics. It’s an effective system, and worth considering, if you live with the pain of IBS.
What About Food Allergies?
Food allergies are a dangerous road and can lead to anaphylactic shock. That can be fatal, and beyond the scope of what we can discuss here at Natural Health Source.
You’ll need to discuss the particulars of food allergies with your doctor.
But make sure you do. The studies mentioned in this article illustrate there’s a connection between IBS and food allergies. The link between food allergies and IBS with diarrhea in particular seems interesting, and worth exploring.
Read up on the Mayo Clinic’s article to learn more about food allergies, if you’re interested.
It’s another reason to keep an IBS journal as well. By watching your meals and the reactions you have to them, you can observe and take notes. Bring them to your doctor and see what he says.
We may be waiting a while for a universal IBS solution, but it’s an interesting development. Food allergies are unique to each patient. An IBS treatment that addressed food allergies may offer patients a lasting solution to a problem that ruins lives and relationships.
Tell your gut to relax. New IBS treatments may be on the way – and if you’re a betting person, food allergies may be at the center of them.