IBS Awareness Month: Supporting IBS-D
Continuing my blog series on IBS, in this post I’m going to look at the subtype IBS-D – Irritable Bowel Syndrome where diarrhoea is the main symptom. (For my blog on IBS-C – IBS with constipation as the main symptom – click here.)
HOW MUCH OF A PROBLEM IS IBS-D?
The symptoms most frequently reported for IBS-D are abdominal pain and discomfort, abdominal bloating, distension, urgency and – of course – diarrhoea. This complaint can be very uncomfortable, and indeed embarrassing, with some people struggling to leave the house on days when the problem has flared up.
In surveys of people with this condition:
• 46% of IBS-D patients agreed with the statement: “I’m willing to try anything to help manage my IBS.”
• 11% agreed with the statement: “When my IBS is bad, I wish I was dead.”
• 20% of people with IBS-D agreed with the statement: “My IBS has badly affected my working life”. (1)
Clearly, the impact of this condition, both physically and emotionally, should not be underestimated.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
IN THE DIET:
• Ensure you are properly hydrated. Diarrhoea often means that extra fluid is leaving your system. It may be an idea to ask a pharmacist for an electrolyte drink to use.
• Eat enough of the right type of fibre! It may sound backwards to use fibre to help when the bowel is moving too frequently, however, certain fibres – including oats, beans, sweet potato & mango are known as soluble fibres. This means they absorb water and would therefore help to form a more solid bowel movement.
• Look for supplements that include L-Glutamine. L-Glutamine is an amino acid: It has been shown to help reduce inflammation in the intestinal mucosa and slow down diarrhoea. Glutamine has been hailed by many of my clients as ‘the ultimate remedy for IBS-D’. Clinical studies have also indicated that L-Glutamine may improve ‘gut permeability’ (leaky gut) – thought to be one of the causes of IBS-D. (2, 3)
• Try some Saccharomyces Boulardii. This amazing yeast has been shown in research to slow down the bowel by reducing inflammation and preventing infection. S. boulardii may also help to encourage the growth of other friendly bacteria. The suggested level is around 5 billion bacteria per dose, and again many of my clients have reported benefits. (4)
• Add in some beneficial bacteria. In previous blogs, I have talked about how scientists have determined we can used specific bacteria to target specific health complaints. The good bacteria shown to be particularly helpful in reducing diarrhoea and reducing inflammation in the bowel include; L. casei, L. rhamnosus and S. thermophilus. (5) These bacteria could also be taken in conjunction with Saccharomyces Boulardii.
A LOVELY CASE STUDY
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of consulting with a very lovely older gentleman. He was suffering dreadfully with IBS-D, so much so that all his days, his trips out of the house, and even his meals were planned around his bowel habits – and his knowledge that there were toilets he could access if required. As a result, his quality of life was severely limited, and he felt very unhappy.
We discussed changes he could make to his diet, and I suggested he try a remedy combining L-Glutamine with saccharomyces boulardii and those probiotics – L. casei. L rhamnosus and S. thermophilus. He took my suggestion (“I’m willing to try anything!”) and started on a high dose of 6 capsules per day.
After only 7 days he was noticing a benefit – he telephoned me with cautious delight, hoping not to be disappointed over the next few days. He was not disappointed. The improvements continued, and he gained more and more faith that our regime was working! I have a particularly fond memory of the day he came in to tell me he had just booked a coach holiday with his wife – the first he had felt confident to take for years!
1) IBS Global Impact Report 2018
2) Effect of glutamine supplementation on diarrhoea J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 May;38(5):494-501.
3) Min-Hyun Kim; The Roles of Glutamine in the Intestine and Its Implication in Intestinal Diseases; Int J Mol Sci. 2017 May; 18(5): 1051.
4) (9) Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders; Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar; 5(2): 111–125.
5) Saavedra JM et al Feeding Streptococcus Thermophilus…for the prevention of diarrhoea Lancet 344 (8929)
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed(Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for more than 20 years).