In a previous article, I discussed the importance of the vagus nerve and its connection to digestive health and its potential role in the pathophysiology of IBS. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) counterbalances the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system, normalizes heart rate, and promotes healthy digestion and relaxation. It also has an antidepressant effect and helps keep inflammation in check. Increased vagal health (known as vagal tone) is linked with greater intimacy and social bonding, whereas diminished vagal health is associated with negative moods, loneliness, and social isolation.
The makeup of the microbiome -- the unique combination of microorganisms (mainly bacteria) known as the microbiota that inhabit the human body and are concentrated primarily in the gut -- has been implicated in a wide range of health concerns. This has motivated researchers around the world to develop analytical techniques to better understand the microbiome and its constituents and explore how they affect health and disease. The microbiome has been of particular interest to gastroenterologists in terms of how it relates to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other intestinal disorders.
There are many myths surrounding IBS, and most of these do more harm than good. Sadly, even the medical establishment and physicians who should know better continue to embrace and promote these outdated fallacies, placing a terrible burden on patients trying to obtain a proper diagnosis and seek treatment.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by altered bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, or both, accompanied by abdominal pain or discomfort. Visceral (gut) hypersensitivity is believed to be a key factor in the cause of IBS pain and may also contribute to symptoms such as stool urgency and bloating. The cause of visceral hypersensitivity, however, is currently unknown.
Triclosan is a chemical that was developed in the 1960s that was designed to kill bacteria. Because it is so effective at this, it became ubiquitous in hand and body washes, antimicrobial soaps, foot and body sprays, personal care products (including face and body lotions), shaving products, makeup, and toothpaste.
When you have an IBS flare-up, are in pain, or are experiencing a variety of difficult symptoms, exercise might the last thing you're inclined to do. Nevertheless, certain types of exercise can be extremely beneficial for IBS sufferers, even (or especially) during a flare-up.
Bananas are just one of many kinds of fruits, so why do we give them so much attention? For starters, bananas are different from the majority of fruits in that they are both starchy and sweet, and these qualities put bananas in a class of their own in terms of their versatility.
Sleep and IBS make for strange bedfellows. If you suffer from IBS, you no doubt know that a good night's sleep can make a world of difference in how well your digestive system functions the following day. A poor night's sleep, however, can have the complete opposite effect. And, of course, an overactive, underactive, or painful gut can disrupt sleep and make matters even worse.
The human digestive tract contains both friendly (aka "good") and not-so-friendly (aka "bad") bacteria. Good bacteria improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and help increase the absorption of nutrients. Bad bacteria are commonly defined as pathogens, which means they may cause infection, make us sick, or even be deadly.
When people talk about a vegan low-FODMAP diet, or really any low-FODMAP diet, the dialogue tends to revolve around which foods are off-limits. This can lead to the erroneous and flawed belief that avoiding high-FODMAP foods means permanently excluding many nutrient-dense and delicious ones and enduring a lifetime of misery, deprivation, and nutritional deficiencies. But how closely does that assumption align with reality?
For some people, avoiding high-FODMAP foods doesn't provide complete relief of IBS symptoms. That's understandable, since IBS isn't yet curable and tends to be cyclic, with periods of greater stability and calm interspersed with flare-ups and times of symptom exacerbation. There often isn't any explanation for why the condition gets better or worse if a person's diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits haven't changed. It appears to just be the nature of the beast.
The beginning of a new year is when many people commit to making positive changes for the next twelve months. Sadly, those lofty promises often fizzle out in just a few weeks. Despite our noble intentions, our objectives may simply be unrealistic or out of our reach. Instead, if we focus on taking small steps toward our ultimate goal -- steps we can truly achieve -- it's possible we'll actually get to the finish line, or at least be a whole lot closer to it.
Prune juice is an age-old remedy for constipation, but is there any merit in using it for constipation-predominant IBS? Prunes, now officially called dried plums, are an excellent source of fiber that can help maintain bowel regularity. But are prune products right for you?
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