Nutritional Deficiencies and IBS

IBS ( or Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a non-life threatening, non-progressing, functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. Having Irritable Bowel Syndrome does not increase your chances of developing cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. This affects 10-20% of adults in the United States causing over 3 million visits to the doctor a year. It can affect anyone; however it is predominantly found in women. Its cause is unknown.

According to the Rome II Criteria, symptoms typical to IBS include: abnormal bowel movement frequency (over three times a day or fewer than three times a week), abnormal bowel movement form (hard lumpy pellets or loose watery stools), abnormal bowel movement passage (straining, incomplete passing feeling, and urgency), mucus passing, bloating, and abdominal distention. Symptoms not typical with IBS include: fever, weight loss, blood in stool, pain and/or diarrhea that wakes/interferes with sleep patterns.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion and can take years to get. Normal organic reasons need to be disallowed before IBS becomes a factor in diagnosis.

Treatment for mild Irritable Bowel Syndrome include: stress management, change of diet, lifestyle changes; moderate IBS includes all of the mild treatments plus fiber supplements and OTC anticholinergics; severe IBS includes all of the mild and moderate treatments plus antidepressants. Zelnorm�® is the only proven drug for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and over 60% of patients that have tried it have found relief. Antidepressants used are typically Elavil�®, Pamelor�® and Norpramine�®. Antispasmodics used are typically Levbid�® and Bentyl�®.

There are many nutritional issues that occur with irritable bowel syndrome. The most common, decreased food intake, is due to the pain and nausea that IBS sufferers feel after a meal. Because of these after meal symptoms, weight loss occurs in 65-75% of patients. Also with common IBS drugs being corticosteroids and sufasalazine, these medications increase one’s nutritional needs.

To counteract these nutritional deficiencies, adequate caloric intake is essential. Plus increasing fiber intake helps optimize the intestinal environment and aid in intestinal flora. This fiber should not come from wheat sources, however, due to the prevalence of food allergies in IBS patients.

Frequency of deficiencies in IBS Patients
Iron Deficiencies 40%
Low serum folate 54-64%
Low serum B12 48%
Low serum magnesium 14-33%
Low serum retinol 21%
Low serum ascorbate 12%
Low serum zinc 40-50%
Low serum 25-OH-Vitamin D 25-65%
Low serum potassium 6-20%

Daily Nutritional supplements that are generally thought to be beneficial for the IBS patient are multivitamins, 3000-8000 mg Vitamin C, 200-400 IU Vitamin E, 30-45 mg Zinc, 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil, and 8-10X Pancreatin 350-700mg 3 times a day.

Folklore IBS recipe
Called “Roberts Formula” it has a long history of use but has no research to the effectiveness.
Wild Indigo
Purple Coneflower
Slippery Elm

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