What is IBS? Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not a disease, but rather a group of symptoms which occur together in the gut: cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea or constipation, or both. These signs can make it tricky to identify IBS because it is diagnosed by clinical symptoms rather than performing a medical test, such as a blood test.
IBS is typically diagnosed after a patient has recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days per month, in the previous three months, combined with a change in the frequency of bowel movements or a change in stools’ appearance.
IBS can occur at any age but often begins in the teens or early adulthood. It is twice as common in women as in men. If you have IBS, you’re not alone! Simply put, IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the world. Researchers estimate that up to 15 to 20 percent of Western world suffers have IBS.
What causes IBS?
IBS can be caused by stress, anxiety and depression which are all connected and driven by gut bacteria in the microbiome. The overgrowth of bacteria in the gut has been definitively linked to IBS by a study performed by Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in 2012. It was the first to use a “gold standard” method of connecting bacteria to the cause of the disorder.
Dr. Camilleri M.D, a gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic, explains that psychological factors and genetic predisposition also cause IBS, as do underlying irritants which disturb gastrointestinal functions such as problems with digesting certain foods, prior gastroenteritis, and bile acids and fatty acids (involved in the digestion of food) arriving in the colon.
Recent science has demonstrated that in certain patients, IBS appears to be an autoimmune condition. In patients with IBS associated with diarrhoea, their immune system T-cells seem to be “exhausted.” These normally active immune cells are less responsive to stimulation, secreting fewer mediators and dividing less. This type of response is often observed with chronic infections.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
IBS symptoms may include pain and cramping, diarrhoea, constipation, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, changes in bowel movement, gas and bloating, food intolerance, fatigue and difficulty sleeping, anxiety and depression.
How can kefir help?
Along with trillions of live bacteria, kefir contains significant amounts of calcium which contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes in your system. A study conducted by the National Centre of Biotechnology discusses the role of calcium and how it is released into the pancreas to regulate the secretion of digestive enzymes.