Dr. Andrew Campbell: “IBS, Microbes & Your Microbiome: What You Need To Know”
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Do you have abdominal pain, or cramping, or feel bloated, have gas, or suddenly have to rush to the bathroom? Do you worry about foods causing you belly problems? Do you sometimes have mucous in your stools? Does stress sometimes trigger these symptoms?

If so, you are not alone. There are more than 60 million Americans suffering from these uncomfortable and at times embarrassing symptoms. Most likely you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also called IBS, the most common ailment of the gastrointestinal tract in humans and it really affects the quality of your life. About 60% of people who suffer from this are women. There are no blood tests to see if you have this or not. Going through a colonoscopy doesn’t help. In fact, there is nothing that can definitely diagnose you with this, only your symptoms and an astute doctor.

For a long time doctors thought irritable bowel disease was due to nervousness, or certain spices or foods, or even hormones, but all the medical studies have shown that none of these are really the culprit. We now know what causes IBS, and several studies have confirmed this fact. It is due to an imbalance of microbes in your microbiome. Let me explain so you don’t get confused with these words.

Our gut contains a lot of microbes. As a matter of fact, there are 135 trillion of them: that’s 135 followed by 12 zeros. This massive amount of microscopic organisms is called the microbiome. In the last several years, medicine and science have come to realize that the microbiome plays a crucial and essential role in maintaining our health. Importantly, there are more nerve cells in the colon than in the spinal cord. Do you get “butterflies in your stomach”? Ever have “a gut feeling”? Our gut and are brain are connected, and when we have a problem with the balance of bacteria in the gut, our health will be affected.

The microbiome is a balance of many different types of bacteria. We need these bacteria to help break down certain foods so that our body can absorb its nutrients. When there is a change in this balance and bad bacteria take over, it results in deterioration of our health. One effect of the disruption of the normal balance of bacteria is irritable bowel syndrome. This is when bad bacteria take over. What can cause this? There are several answers to this question.

When you are occasionally prescribed a necessary antibiotic for an infection, this will also kill the good bacteria. Usually, people bounce back quickly after this. But if you have had to take antibiotics regularly, or for long periods of time, this can change the normal balance of bacteria in your microbiome and result in irritable bowel syndrome.

The other reason for irritable bowel syndrome is if you commonly and frequently eat processed foods. These are low fiber, high sugar, food-like substances in plastic containers. Think of breakfast cereals, packaged crackers or cookies, soft drinks, bottled juice drinks, pizza, salty snacks, chicken nuggets, instant noodles and soups, bottled dressings and sauces, and the list goes on and on. These are common, low cost, and easily accessible.

 

 

 

What can you do? To avoid all of the foods above would be great, but this may not be so easy. Lots of us have kids, jobs, responsibilities, and to always prepare and eat organic and healthy foods is just not practical. Some folks have to take antibiotics again and again or for long periods of time for certain types of infections. However, if you want to get your irritable bowel syndrome behind you and feel healthy again, there is something that you can do to rebalance your microbiome: take a probiotic. I don’t mean yoghurt or kefir or a capsule you buy in the store. These have been shown repeatedly in studies to not help or only give temporary relief. You need a real probiotic, one that numerous studies have shown to really work. These probiotics are bacterial spore based, so they rebalance and become part of the good bacteria in your microbiome. I and my family take them, and you too can easily get them on line from Amazon. They are called “Just Thrive”. Just take 2 capsules in the morning and within a few weeks, your gut microbiome will be back in shape. You can say good-bye to irritable bowel syndrome.

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