What if your gut is as useful as a bucket with holes in it? You may have what is known as “leaky gut”, which is a common underlying cause of IBS.
“Leaky gut” is the term used to describe intestinal permeability which occurs when there is a weakening of the protein fibers that line the gut wall, resulting in the formation of microscopic “holes” or “gaps” in the mucosa.
If your gut is “leaky”, then you are essentially unable to absorb the vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are required to facilitate the chemical reactions that keep our body performing like a well-oiled machine. It also means that you are not equipped to avoid exposure to the countless toxins and bacteria that we consume and create on a daily basis.
Leaky gut is highly inflammatory and is often the primary factor underpinning all Irritable Bowel Symptoms. Where there is inflammation, there is generally also irritation and pain.
In our experience, once you reduce the inflammation and repair the “holes’ associated with leaky gut most people feel a dramatic resolution to their symptoms.
Last time we discussed the detrimental effects that stress has on IBS, now we’re going to focus on the impact of having bad bacteria in your gut.
As unappealing as it sounds, yes, many of us are walking around with bad bacteria in our guts and we don’t even know it! In fact, dysbiosis (bad bacteria overgrowth) is one of the leading causes of IBS and is primarily the consequence of our poor diets, hectic lifestyles and the overuse of antibiotics.
In our modern society it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the stresses of daily life and our coping mechanisms are generally non-existent or ineffective. While small amounts of stress are beneficial to improve motivation and ‘get up and go’, our ability to turn off the “stress switch”, so to speak, is not as easy as it once was.
Nowadays we are constantly bombarded with conflict and worry surrounding finances, relationships, employment, self-esteem, diet, materialism and disease, just to name a few. Essentially we are bombarded with frequent, ongoing stress which means that the body never gets a chance to recover and repair. As a result, numerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies arise which can eventually lead to poor immune, liver, thyroid, reproductive, adrenal and nervous system function.
In my experience I have found that 90% of people with IBS are also under a lot of stress. Most of us tend to hold our worry and nervousness in our digestive system. The feeling of “butterflies” in your tummy ultimately causes poor digestion and may in fact, aggravate IBS.
With prolonged stress your adrenal glands also become overworked and tired and therefore can not produce the correct hormones to help provide your ‘get up and go’. More often than not, fatigue is a major secondary symptom of people suffering with IBS.
Anti-inflammatory hormones such cortisol are also produced by the adrenal glands. When the adrenal glands become tired, the production of anti-inflammatory hormones also reduces. This is one of the reasons why people suffering IBS often experience gut pain, joint and muscle pain. (We will cover adrenal health in more detail in a future e-class)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional bowel disorder characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and discomfort. This is generally accompanied by changes in bowel function such diarrhoea, constipation or a combination of both, typically over months or years.
Bloating, pain, cramping, fatigue and headaches are other common symptoms associated with IBS.
Our gut is essentially the “seat of our health”, and any imbalance in its function will result in the poor digestion and absorption of our food and nutrients and ultimately, poor health and a disrupted lifestyle.