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Researching potential ways to alleviate symptoms of IBS, two teams of scientists from the United States and China, investigated the impact of supplements and vegetables on IBS patients.
Symptoms of IBS include:
• Stomach pain or cramps
• Passing mucus from the bottom
• Problems urinating.
As well as green vegetables, the teams also looked into the impact on IBS of supplements, specifically the oral chlorophyllin supplement, one derived from the green pigment found in plants.
After conducting their study, the researchers concluded: “Consuming green vegetables or green pigment supplements such as chlorophyllin might help people with inflammatory bowel disease.”
In common with other chronic conditions, IBS can sometimes be triggered, resulting in a flare-up. Such triggers include alcohol, caffeine, certain foods, stress, and anxiety.
There is currently no cure for IBS. However, the disease can be managed through several actions. The NHS recommends cooking homemade meals using fresh ingredients, keeping a food diary to avoid any triggers, trying to find ways to relax, exercise, and the occasional use of probiotics.
Many IBS sufferers experience painful bouts of diarrhoea. To alleviate symptoms of this particularly uncomfortable symptom, the NHS recommends a diet of high-fibre foods such as brown bread and brown rice, as well as nuts and seeds.
While IBS is a common digestive condition, some experts say it may be much less common than originally thought, and that up to 80 percent of IBS sufferers might have something else entirely.
According to experts in the field, up to 80 percent of patients with IBS may have a condition known as SIBO instead. Standing for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, it is caused when too much bacteria grows in the small intestine.
According to medical practitioner Melanie Dixon, the biggest difference is the location of the bloating: “With SIBO the bloating is higher up because it’s in the small intestine which is above the large intestine so the bloating is right under the ribs.”
Meanwhile, IBS patients will experience bloating further down due to the position of the large intestine. On the bloating,
Ms Dixon added: “People tend to bloat very quickly after food, and it tends to be after carbohydrate rich foods.”
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of SIBO include:
• Acid reflux
These symptoms can worsen if someone with SIBO is misdiagnosed as having IBS.
In common with other conditions, SIBO can cause complications if it isn’t treated in good time.
Ms Dixon said the SIBO “can cause system issues because SIBO causes inflammation, the gut bacteria become imbalanced and when you’ve got inflammation in the gut, that disrupts the immune system in the gut which leads to inflammation so it can lead to joint or neurological disorders”.
Subsequently, SIBO can affect overall health by reducing the strength of the immune system and weakening the body’s ability to protect itself.
While less common that IBS, there are still treatments available on the NHS to help treat patients; the most common of these is an antibiotic known as rifaximin.
Rifaximin is described by the NHS as a “promising, easily handled, and safe drug for the short-term treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth” which can be prescribed by an NHS GP”.
Other treatments for the condition include antibiotics. However, these can have the negative side effect of killing off healthy bacteria – a side effect which doesn’t occur with rifaximin.
SIBO can also be managed through a balanced diet and treatment of the underlying cause of the condition.
The condition is normally diagnosed through a breath test where the gases exhaled are examined to identify the presence, then type, of SIBO.
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