IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is IBS? 

IBS is a broad diagnosis that gets thrown around a lot. It occurs when there is an excess amount of lactic acid. It stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and accompanies various digestive symptoms such as…

 

Abdominal Pain/Discomfort 

Constipation/Diarrhea 

Gas/Bloating

Nausea 

Anxiety/Depression 

Low Appetite 

Painful and Urgent Bowel Movements

Indigestion/Acid Reflux 

Mucus in Stool

 

If you have ever been diagnosed, your doctor likely checked for conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Celiac Disease first. If these weren’t suspected, then you get told you have IBS. This diagnosis does not mean much because you still don't know what is causing your irritable bowel and intestinal inflammation. In our practice, we often see one of the underlying issues of IBS to be Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) which very commonly presents itself with acne. SIBO is known to make up over 80% of IBS cases which is why we have an E-Book in our shop dedicated to properly resolving this condition. 

 

It's important to know that your IBS symptoms are very manageable with diet and lifestyle changes. You just need to figure out what exactly is triggering it and work on restoring metabolic health. This is where we as practitioners and functional lab testing comes in handy.

 

We often see people adding in probiotics or eating loads of fermented foods because they are known to be "gut healthy". However, probiotics can cause acne and further gut issues. Fermented foods/drinks have tons of lactic acid which people with IBS already have too much of and this increase in lactic acid can overwhelm your liver and slow your metabolism. In addition, most people suffering from IBS have low gut motility so when they supplement with probiotics or consume fermented foods/drinks, the bacteria actually ends up in their small intestine instead of their large intestine leading to bacterial overgrowths like SIBO. Or even worse, some people already have SIBO and are just adding fuel to the fire. We strategically use specific probiotic strains like saccharomyces boulardii and spore based strains in our practice sometimes but only once SIBO has been addressed and we have done microbiome testing. If a client has strong stomach acid levels, other probiotic strains will die before they even make it to the large intestine. We also see a lot of IBS sufferers increasing their fibre and water intake which isn't necessarily best practice either. When restoring gut health, we need to make sure we are getting sufficient intake of minerals. Drinking litres of water everyday when you are not even thirsty is going to wash away minerals. It is more ideal to drink a moderate amount and maximize absorption with natural electrolytes like magnesium bicarbonate in our shop. When it comes to increasing fibre- most of those people are constipated. However, they are not usually constipated due to a lack of fibre but because of a slow metabolism. Therefore, increasing fibre will not fix the issue and can actually be quite aggravating for some. We see a lot more success when clients prioritize fibre from fruits & root vegetables rather than hard to digest grains and green or cruciferous vegetables. With many IBS clients, we often have to reduce intake of all hard to digest and inflammatory foods while adding in loads of gut nourishing foods in order to bring them back to baseline. However, we do not support elimination diets or any sort of broad restriction of foods as that tends to create more issues further down the line. 

Three Types of IBS:

IBS-C: primarily constipation and an under-active stomach 

IBS-D: primarily diarrhea and an over-active stomach

IBS-M: a mix of both 

 

First, we will decipher which one of these types you fall under. Then, we will investigate what is triggering it through health history and symptom/diet analysis. We may potentially do a comprehensive stool analysis called the GI-Map test. If needed, we will also run an HTMA test to get a better look at your metabolism on a cellular level. This gives more insight as to why you are experiencing digestive issues. 

Common IBS Causes:

Leaky Gut 

Dysbiosis 

Parasites 

Yeast Overgrowth 

Cortisol Dysregulation

SIBO 

Food Sensitivities 

Hormone Imbalances

Lack of Digestive Enzymes 

Lack of Exercise 

Low Stomach Acid

Excess Serotonin

When a client comes to us with IBS, there is almost always some gut dysbiosis present. This means there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in their gut microbiome. There is trillions of different bacterial and yeast species that make up one's gut microbiome. This microbiome influences not only one's skin but their immune system, hormones, mood, digestion and basically every aspect of their health. Ever heard of the saying 'All Disease Begins in The Gut'? This is very much true. Research has proven that when this balance of bacteria is off, acne tends to appear in many people. After all, our skin has a microbiome made up of bacteria and yeast too just like our gut microbiome. Our gut microbiome actually heavily influences our skin microbiome as gut dysbiosis can lower microbial diversity on the skin. We call this the gut skin axis. This can lead to bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes (part of the human skin microbiota that has been linked to acne) overgrowing and becoming problematic. These microbial imbalances in the skin and gut lead to a disrupted skin pH/skin barrier, more skin permeability and an increase in sebum production. In addition, when we experience IBS symptoms like constipation or have pathogenic parasites present, toxins are going to be re-circulating which burdens our liver. This shuts down our main detox drainage pathway. These toxins will find a new way out and it's usually through your skin which can cause acne and other skin conditions to arise like rosacea and eczema. Ultimately, constipation and acne are highly correlated. 

Reasons for Gut Dysbiosis:

Birth Control 

Antibiotics 

SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)

Alcohol 

PUFA's (polyunsaturated fatty acids) 

Processed Foods

NSAIDS

Laxatives 

Proton Pump Inhibitors 

 

Unfortunately, a lot of IBS sufferers that seek help from us are taking medications like SSRI's due to poor mental health as there is a strong gut brain connection via the vagus nerve. However, they are not aware the damage excess serotonin from these medications can cause on their gut health. We would consider excess serotonin to be one of the leading causes of IBS. There are studies showing the majority of people with IBS have excess serotonin levels in their urine. Most of serotonin production happens in the gut and it actually is a chemical involved in the genesis of stress. An overproduction can lead to a number of GI issues especially leaky gut. This is partly because when serotonin is chronically high so is cortisol and when cortisol is chronically high, your gut becomes permeable. Now your body can't escort the endotoxins or aggressive estrogen metabolites out. Serotonin is not such a happy hormone after all. 

 

Additionally, many people are unaware the damages birth control and antibiotics have on your gut microbiome. Although antibiotics may be killing the overgrown and pathogenic bacteria at the time, they also kill the good beneficial bacteria causing dysbiosis. This actually sets you up for more overgrowths as the gut microbiome is all about balance and diversity. Overtime, antibiotics will destroy your defence mechanisms like your immune system, stomach acid and your mucosal barrier which makes you more susceptible to pathogens. This also compromises your ability to properly digest food + absorb nutrients. We see this resulting in a never ending cycle of IBS symptoms. This is why our practice is devoted to finding the root cause so you can be symptom free forever! 

 

You don’t have to experience painful symptoms or fear food any longer. Check out our 1:1 membership for personalized diet, lifestyle and supplementation in order to rebalance your gut/skin microbiome. We offer in-person appointments in Toronto, ON and online worldwide! Not sure if 1:1 is feasible? We also offer a skin clearing program that teaches you how to fix your gut called The Acne Solution.