Living With IBS: Top Causes and Natural Treatments
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the digestive system. It affects the large intestine and can cause abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence. IBS is very common, affecting more than 3 million people annually. While there is no cure for IBS, natural treatment options are available to relieve symptoms. In this article, we will discuss the potential causes of IBS and the best ways to treat this mysterious disorder naturally.
Potential Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. However, several factors are believed to play a role in its formation:
Infection. A severe case of diarrhea caused by a bacteria or virus could cause IBS. In other instances, bacterial overgrowth could be the cause.
Stress. Chronic, long-term stress could increase the risk of IBS. This risk is increased for those experiencing childhood stress.
Change in gut microbiome. The gut is home to billions of healthy fungi and bacteria. Individuals with IBS may have an overabundance of bad bacteria in their gut microbiome.
Muscle contractions in the intestine. Contractions of muscles along the intestinal wall can impact digestion. Weak muscle contractions can hinder food digestion and lead to hard and dry stools. On the other hand, contractions that are too strong or last too long increase the risk of gas, diarrhea, and bloating.
Brain and the nervous system signals. Poor signals between the brain and nervous system could cause the body to overreact during digestion. This might cause discomfort when the abdomen must stretch when having gas or passing stools.
Top Symptoms of IBS
IBS has many potential symptoms. Here are the most common:
- Anxiety and depression
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Food intolerance
- Bloating and gas
- Changes in bowel movements
- Alternating bouts of constipation or diarrhea
- Pain and cramping
These symptoms are common for a variety of health issues, but IBS symptoms can last for 3-6 months or longer. See a doctor if any of these warning signs persist.
There is no cure for IBS. However, here are some of the most popular ways to treat the disease:
Physical exercise has been shown to improve GI symptoms in IBS. Researchers note physically active patients with IBS will face less symptom deterioration than physically inactive patients. 
The following exercises may help alleviate IBS:
- Cardio (low intensity)
- Swimming (low intensity)
Note: Low-intensity exercises are often advised for those suffering from IBS. High-intensity exercises could aggravate IBS, making conditions worse. In addition, exercises that stress the core are not advised for those with IBS.
Diet: Best and Worst Foods for IBS
Diet is key to treating IBS. For many people, this means eating a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Many find short-chain carbohydrates difficult to digest in the small intestine. As a result, many experience feelings of digestive stress after consuming them.
When high-Fodmap diets were compared to low-FODMAP diets in studies, pain, and bloating “were significantly reduced” in patients receiving a low-FODMAP diet. Researchers conclude a low-FODMAP diet could favor IBS symptoms, especially abdominal pain, and bloat. 
The following chart lists the top low-FODMAP foods for IBS sufferers and foods to avoid:
Top Foods For IBS
Worst Foods for IBS
Medications with lactose:
Birth control pills
OTC meds for gas or stomach acid
Nuts (in moderation):
White meat chicken
White meat turkey
Lean cuts of beef (sirloin, top round)
High fructose corn syrup
Onions and leeks
Cereals (large amounts of wheat and rye)
Yogurt (sugar free)
Meal replacement drinks
Note: some low-FODMAP foods may be ok for some but cause digestive issues for others. Try them out to see which ones are best for you.
For some individuals, eating can trigger IBS symptoms. Intermittent fasting is a form of caloric restriction where food consumption is limited for an average of 14-20 hours at a time. Studies on intermittent fasting found it to “significantly improve” several common IBS symptoms: 
- Abdominal pain/discomfort
- Abdominal distension
- Interference with life in general
Note: Intermittent fasting means no food consumption for hours at a time. This could pose a problem for those who take medication that must be consumed with food. If you are on any medications, talk to your physician before attempting an intermittent fast.
Stress and IBS
Exposure to chronic stress is believed to alter brain-gut interactions, which can lead to several gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Studies on stress indicate it can have 6 negative effects on the gut: 
- Alterations in gastrointestinal motility
- Increase in visceral perception
- Changes in gastrointestinal secretion
- Increase in intestinal permeability
- Negative effects on the regenerative capacity of the gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow
- Negative effects on intestinal microbiota
Popular stress-relieving activities include gardening, exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and solving word puzzles.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, can be obtained outdoors and by exposing the skin to sunlight. On average, 15 minutes of direct sunlight is all needed to get the daily requirement. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 41% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. 
Studies indicate vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with IBS and those recently diagnosed with the disease. Researchers also note that vitamin D deficiency could impact the severity of IBS.  In addition to sunlight, the following foods are good sources of vitamin D:
- Canned tuna
- Egg yolks
- Cod liver oil
- Sardines and herring
- Vitamin D fortified foods (orange juice, cereals, oatmeal, soy milk, cow’s milk)
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements are often used to help alleviate IBS symptoms. The following all-natural supplements are designed to help improve gut health:
ION* For Gut Health - 32oz Bottle
ION* For Gut Health is a mineral supplement that comes from 60-million-year-old soil and has been scientifically proven to help maintain a healthy gut. The active ingredient in ION* For Gut Health is Terrahydrite®, which supports the gut lining and helps protect it from various toxins such as glyphosate.
ION* For Gut Health is specifically designed to protect the GI tract from the following:
- Allergenic foods such as gluten
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
- Antibiotics (taken directly or inadvertently via factory-grown livestock)
- Pesticides and herbicides accidentally consumed through the food supply
By helping to heal the gut and gut lining, the body is then able to focus on strengthening the immune system. This helps to decrease the risk (and severity) of illness, infection, and disease.
ATRANTíL – Bloating Relief and Everyday Digestive Health
ATRANTíL is an all-natural product that helps to relieve bloating and discomfort from gas in the gut. This product is designed to get to the root cause of bloating instead of just treating symptoms. This is accomplished by attacking the archaebacteria and other harmful bacteria that cause gas.
ATRANTíL is a nutraceutical, which is a dietary supplement that provides health benefits in addition to its basic nutritional value. Its effectiveness comes from three key ingredients:
- Peppermint leaf. Helps calm the small bowel, which allows time for other key ingredients to work at maximum efficiency.
- Quebracho extract. These flavonoids come from a South American hardwood tree that soaks up hydrogen. (Hydrogen provides an unfriendly environment for archaebacteria to thrive).
- Conker Tree extract. This natural antibacterial stops methane production by binding to the reductase enzyme that resides in the weakened archaebacteria.
This 3-step process helps to relieve bloating and digestive discomfort naturally.
Systemic Formulas: #467 - LGUT - Leaky Gut Mastery
Leaky gut is believed to increase inflammation risk and reduce immune function. Created by Dr. Shayne Morris, LGUT contains all-natural ingredients that have been shown to decrease intestinal permeability. Top ingredients in LGUT include the following:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt
- Lion’s mane mushroom
- Proprietary Blend: L-Alanyl-L-Glutamine
Irritable bowel syndrome impacts millions of people annually. The cause of IBS is unknown, but many potential triggers have been identified. There is no cure for IBS, but diet and lifestyle changes may help ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Do you suffer from IBS? Tell us your story and share what you are doing to treat this disease.
 Elisabet Johannesson 1, Magnus Simrén, Hans Strid, (et al). Physical Activity Improves Symptoms In Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 May;106(5):915-22. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.480. Epub 2011 Jan 4. [PMID: 21206488]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21206488/
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