Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal diagnosis worldwide. It is more common in women than in men, and while it can be found in children, it is often first identified in adolescence.
IBS is a chronic functional gastrointestinal syndrome with symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping and altered bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea, or alternating between the two extremes. We call it a “functional” disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined, even though patients experience discomfort.
What Causes IBS?
IBS is a complex disorder with underlying causes including infection, unbalanced gut bacteria, food allergies or sensitivities, certain medications, surgery, low-grade inflammation, childhood nutrition and emotional trauma. Persistent stress, depression or anxiety often exacerbate and intensify IBS symptoms.
- People with IBS have altered patterns of intestinal muscle contraction.
- People with IBS are more sensitive to pain within the digestive tract.
How is IBS Diagnosed?
IBS is diagnosed based on an assessment of your symptoms and a physical exam. Further testing may be required to rule out more serious illness.
How does Stress Affect IBS?
Stress is one of the most common triggers of IBS symptoms. The colon is controlled by the brain and nervous system, and therefore stress management may relieve IBS symptoms. Numerous therapies can help you better manage stress including lifestyle counseling, cognitive therapy, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal medicines.
How does a Nutrition Help IBS?
For many people, eating a proper diet lessens IBS symptoms. Dr. Dundas will help discern which foods may be aggravating your digestive tract and will make diet change recommendations.
Crohn’s disease is a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The most common areas of inflammation for people with Crohn’s disease are the last part of the small intestine (ileum) and the colon. Inflammation may be confined to the bowel wall, which can lead to scarring, or inflammation may spread through the bowel wall.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease can range from mild to severe and may develop gradually or come on suddenly. When the disease is active, symptoms include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping, bleeding with bowel movements, ulcers in the intestines or mouth, reduced appetite, unintentional weight loss, fever, and fatigue
What Causes Crohn’s Disease?
A number of factors, such as heredity, a malfunctioning immune system, and imbalances in the “good” and “bad” bacteria that reside in the intestines play a role in the development of Crohn’s disease. Diet and stress may aggravate existing Crohn’s disease; however, they don’t cause it on their own.
What Complications can Crohn’s Disease Cause?
- Bowel obstruction
- Fistulas (an abnormal connection or ‘tunnel’ between the intestine to another part of the digestive tract, the skin, the bladder or the vagina)
- Abscess (a pocket of infection)
- Anal fissure
- Malnutrition and anemia (diarrhea and abdominal pain may make it difficult to eat and for your intestine to absorb enough nutrients to keep you nourished).
- Inflammation of the joints, eyes or skin
- Increased risk for colon cancer
How is Crohn’s Disease Treated?
When treating Crohn’s disease, the goal is to reduce the inflammation that triggers symptoms. Treatment should also improve long-term health by limiting complications that would otherwise arise without treatment. In the best cases, integrative treatment leads not only to symptom relief but also to long-term remission. Conventional treatment for Crohn’s disease usually involves drug therapy or, in certain cases, surgery.
Integrative medical therapies can play a supportive role in improving your symptoms and quality of life. Integrative medical treatment of Crohn’s disease involves dietary modifications, stress management, acupuncture, nutritional supplements, specific therapeutic probiotics and standardized herbal medicines. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, integrative medical therapies are used on their own, or in combination with prescription drugs.
How Can Nutrition Help Crohn’s Disease?
Specific dietary recommendations can help reduce Crohn’s symptoms, aid healing of the intestines and replete nutrient deficiencies. Conversely, certain foods can aggravate Crohn’s symptoms, especially during a flare-up. We’ll help you determine which foods are best for you to eat and how to prepare these foods. Nutritional counseling is particularly important for people with nutrient deficiencies or who have lost an unhealthy amount of weight due to Crohn’s disease.
In addition, nutritional supplements may be necessary, such as: omega-3, multivitamins, iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D, among others.
What Lifestyle Changes Help Crohn’s Disease?
Lifestyle Changes such as quitting smoking and reducing/avoiding alcohol and coffee are important for people with Crohn’s. As well, regular exercise can be very helpful.