Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

Probiotics and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are probiotics?

Our gut is home to millions and millions of bacteria – in fact the number of bacteria in your gut is higher than the number of cells in the human body! The total weight of them can even come to 1.5kg / 4lbs. It’s generally agreed that there are about 500-1000 different types of bacteria in our gut, and for a healthy individual we have a harmonious relationship with these guys.

These bacteria are vital to our health; they help maintain the health of the cells in the gut lining, they support our immune function in the gastrointestinal tract (which is where the bulk of our immune system is located!), they aid in the digestion and absorption of key nutrients, and they even produce some nutrients that our body cannot produce itself – making these available for us.

Probiotics are essentially supplements of specific types of the “good guy” bacteria. The idea is that in taking them, you may be boosting the population of the good bacteria, which would help if your body’s balance of bacteria in the gut is off.

You can also find natural sources of probiotics in certain foods, namely fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and other pickled vegetables.

When it comes to supplementation specifically, most research has centered on two main families of bacteria: lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. However, the specific strains/sub-strains of bacteria are going to vary from product to product. Some supplements will just be one specific strain, some may be a mix, and the overall quantity of bacteria can also vary.

 

Should I be supplementing with probiotics for IBS?

One theory is that symptoms of IBS such as gas, may develop due to an imbalance of “good vs. bad” bacteria in the gut. However, actual clinical results have been mixed and largely inconclusive as to whether probiotics are effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

When it comes to our gut microbiome, in general the composition of it is fairly similar between healthy individuals. But when it comes to an unbalanced microbiome, every person’s tends to be unique. Therefore, it’s difficult to judge whether or not a probiotic will be effective.

Since the bacteria in the probiotic are meant to be alive, it’s also difficult to say how many – if any – actually make it through the digestive system and to the large intestine still alive. And a small study done on off-the-shelf probiotic supplements found that 50% of those tested were actually already dead even before use! Since there’s very little regulation in the industry, whether you’re getting what you paid for can be questionable.

The American Gastroenterological Association has recently come out with revised recommendations stating that there is insufficient evidence to recommend probiotics for IBS.

However, a low-FODMAP diet for as little as 4 weeks has been seen to already impact the balance of bacteria in the gut in a negative direction. But research done at King’s College in the UK has shown that taking a probiotic may help rebalance the gut microbiome after following a low-FODMAP diet.

Overall, if you’re going to try supplementing with a probiotic, keep your expectations realistic and only expect a mild improvement, if any.

 

Considerations for supplementing with probiotics for IBS

Start with the natural sources in fermented foods! Ease into it over time, as going for a too-large portion size right away could cause digestive distress. Keep in mind that some probiotic-rich foods could be high in FODMAPs.

If you try a supplement, you can also ease into in it by starting with lower amounts. Research suggests that it is more beneficial to focus on one specific strain of bacteria at first, rather than choosing one with many different types.

Give yourself at least a month (one full female hormone cycle) to judge whether or not they are making a difference. They should be taken just before or during a meal (of course always follow the label’s instructions).

If you don’t see an improvement – stop taking them! You don’t want to be wasting your money. You could also try switching to a different strain of bacteria.

 

Final thoughts

As always, consult your doctor before taking any sort of supplement! If you have a known immune deficiency, have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, or have short gut syndrome, you shouldn’t be taking probiotics. 

There is no research on long-term probiotic use, so taking them for a longer period isn’t recommended.

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes probiotics!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Apply now for a free Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

Digestive Enzymes and IBS

If you are going to try any sort of supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. This post is for general information purposes only, is not meant to diagnose or treat, and is in no way a replacement for consulting a medical professional.

 

What are digestive enzymes?

Enzymes are a specific type of protein and act as a chemical catalyst in the body. Digestive enzymes are the group that break down the food we eat into smaller molecules to eventually be absorbed and used by the body. 

Most digestive enzymes are made by the pancreas and during digestion are secreted into the small intestine. But some are also made by the salvatory glands (so are present in our saliva), and by the cells lining the stomach and small intestine.

Each digestive enzyme has its own specific target, for example:

  • Amylase targets carbohydrates, breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars
  • Lipase targets fats, breaking them down into fatty acids and glycerol
  • Pepsin targets proteins, breaking them down into peptides

These are just a few examples of the many digestive enzymes our body produces. One that you may be more familiar with is lactase. This is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose. The lack of this enzyme in some people is what lies behind lactose intolerance! (Keep in mind this is not the same as with a true dairy allergy.)

 

Should I be supplementing with digestive enzymes for IBS?

Supplementation of digestive enzymes originally started namely for people with pancreatic insufficiency – these people were unable to produce enough of their own digestive enzymes in the pancreas.

There’s some, albeit limited, research that certain digestive enzymes could beneficial for people with IBS. The theory being that they can help with indigestion and cut down on the chance of IBS symptoms being triggered by poorly digested food.

However, regulation in the digestive enzyme industry is very poor, and many products on the market lack scientific evidence backing up their beneficial claims. Since enzymes are a type of protein, in many cases there is no proof that these enzymes even reach the small intestine intact – they may be digested themselves in the process!

If you are going to try a supplement, always discuss with your doctor and nutrition professional first. Make sure to choose one that has research showing its benefits specifically for IBS symptoms. Take them following the label’s instructions (generally before and/or during a meal).

Supplements can be pricey, so take the time to evaluate whether you are experiencing any benefit from it after a consistent trial period of a month. If you don’t notice the benefit, don’t waste your money!

 

Types of digestive enzymes for IBS

Lactase (commonly found as the brand Lactaid)

This is a digestive enzyme that aids in the breakdown of the milk sugar, lactose. Studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance that many people with IBS struggle with.

 

Alpha-galactosidase

Around 2/3 of people with IBS have been found to be sensitive to a FODMAP subcategory called GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). GOS are commonly found in foods like lentils and legumes, cashews, and pistachios. The digestive enzyme alpha-galactosidase has been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS like bloating, abdominal distension, and gas.

 

Biointol

Biointol is a combination of different digestive enzymes along with some soluble fibers. A study on IBS patients showed improvement on symptoms like bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, with a slight increase in urgency of bowel movements. However, the study was a fairly small group and there was no placebo group. More research still needs to be done.

 

Pancreatic lipase (PEZ)

A small study on a group of people with diarrhea predominant IBS showed improvement in symptoms like cramping, stomach rumbling, bloating, urgency of bowel movements, pain, and loose stools. More research still needs to be done.

 

Final thoughts

Digestive enzymes could be helpful for some people with IBS. Take care which ones you are taking and make sure to choose ones that have credible research and proven results on IBS symptoms. Some digestive enzymes can come from animal-based sources, so make sure to check the label if you require a vegan/vegetarian product.

Remember that some digestive enzymes, like lactase, are very specific, and so their effectiveness is going to rely on whether or not you’re consuming food that contains that substance. This is why knowing what your food triggers are is so important! 

There is no magical pill that replaces doing the work – and this includes digestive enzymes!

Any supplementation should generally be a second line of support after working with a professional on establishing a healthy, balanced diet and making positive lifestyle changes to address your specific IBS symptom triggers. Always discuss diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, with your doctor prior to starting.

 

Ready to create a concrete plan for reducing your IBS symptoms like bloating, pain, and gas? Want to understand what is triggering your symptoms, finally start feeling comfortable in your body again, and stop feeling anxious whenever you leave the house?

Apply now for a free Breakthrough Session to talk about how we can get you there!

What’s the deal with gluten?

What’s the deal with gluten?

What's the deal with Gluten?

Have you ever wondered what the deal is with gluten, and how come so many people are against it?

On social media these days, it seems like it’s healthy eating 101 to cut the stuff out – but is it necessary?

Or perhaps you’ve already cut it out, but yet your IBS symptoms are still sticking around.

Now I know I might ruffle some feathers with the following statement, but…

…research hasn’t shown any sizeable link between gluten and IBS symptoms (when celiac disease, the autoimmune condition related to gluten, is properly controlled for).


However, many people do report anecdotally that their symptoms have lessened when cutting it out.

The thing is, it might have nothing to do with gluten!

Many gluten containing foods also contain fructans – a FODMAP! Where gluten is a type of protein, fructans are a type of carbohydrate – specifically a long chain of fructose molecules.

This is why you might still experience symptoms when ditching the gluten – fructans are found in more foods than just wheat, like onions and garlic.

And the good news is, most people with IBS can tolerate some fructans in smaller servings. For example, a couple slices of sourdough bread or a small side of pasta likely is low enough in fructans for many IBS-sufferers to tolerate – even though they contain gluten!

This is just yet another example of how individualized IBS triggers can be. What works for one person might not for you.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t tend to be one, overarching catalyst triggering your symptoms, regardless of whether you find yourself sensitive to gluten and/or fructans.

(As an aside, if you suspect you’re sensitive to gluten, be sure to be properly screened for celiac disease by your doctor.)

Check out this week’s video below to dive deeper:

What’s Holding You Back?

What’s Holding You Back?

What's Holding You Back?

Have you found yourself talking time and time again about how you wish things were different?

You don’t want to feel bloated anymore.

You want to go on vacation without the fear of feeling miserable the whole time from cramps and pain.

You want to buy an article of clothing that doesn’t come with a stretchy waistband!

It’s one thing to want those things, but it’s another to actively work towards making that your reality.

I tend to see three big aspects holding people back from doing the work and realizing their goals.

1/ Only focusing on the roadblocks

All your mental energy is going into thinking about how hard the journey is going to be. You become overwhelmed in determining the steps you need to take and your anxiety and internal resistance just continues to build.

You’ve forgotten what the end goal looks like. You’re focusing on the challenges and not on the opportunity you have. It’s time to reframe your mindset and stop getting bogged down by the details.

2/ A lack of accountability

For some, it can be extremely hard to hold yourself accountable for making personal changes. Stop beating yourself up for “a lack of willpower” and instead harness the potential of an accountability partner! Whether this is a friend, family member, colleague, or coach, (or even strangers on the internet!), sometimes you just need someone to report in to to keep you moving forward.

3/ An identity crisis

Sometimes the hardships we go through can become, consciously or no, a part of our identity. You might not be aware of it, but you could be “identifying” with your symptoms or disorder. The idea of suddenly becoming symptom-free may actually be causing you to question your identity, and this transition can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s only by releasing this identity that you’ll be able to ultimately move on.

Check out this week’s video below to dive deeper into these three roadblocks!

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

What are FODMAPs?

You’ve maybe heard this strange term floating around, especially if you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). But what does it actually mean?!

FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for:

Fermentable

Oligosaccharides

Disaccharides

Monosaccharides

And

Polyols

While these are perfectly healthy nutrients, foods that contain these substances can sometimes cause a flare-up of symptoms in people with IBS. (But note that FODMAPs do not cause IBS!)

Check out the video to learn more.

 

Healthy Living & IBS

Healthy Living & IBS

Healthy Living & IBS

You are what you eat – right?

Well… partly – but there’s so much more to it than that!

When it comes to healthy living (IBS or not), I like to focus on 5 key foundational elements with my clients.

And (shock, horror) only one of them is nutrition!

While nutrition is often the biggest piece of the puzzle, there are other areas that you absolutely need to look at as well, otherwise you’re probably undermining all your efforts in the kitchen.

By taking positive action in each of these five foundational areas, the halo effect on the rest of your life can really be profound.

These are the places where one change can easily blossom effortlessly in to more change, and before you know it your entire lifestyle has been overhauled for the better!