July, 2012

Jul 12

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – No Single Cause

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is something that affects 15-20% of the population and is something the doctor might be quick to diagnose when patients present with a variety of symptoms, such as abdominal pain or a disordered bowel habit that generally can’t be explained. For many, trips to the doctor, colonoscopies, medications and dietary modifications do little to assist with the symptoms of IBS. So what are the potential causes of IBS and is there anything that can be done and from a functional standpoint?

Individuals like a condition to be named therefore the umbrella term IBS is generally given to them but there is no single cause for IBS as each person is different. Nutritional Therapist’s work with an individual’s uniqueness to establish what might be the cause for their IBS.

Associated symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, spasms, bloating, gas and abnormal bowel movements such as alternating diarrhoea and constipation, mucous in stools & more.

Possible Causes

  • Food intolerance: Two thirds of IBS patients have shown to have at least one food intolerance and some have multiple intolerance’s. The most common intolerance’s include wheat, dairy, corn, coffee, tea, citrus & chocolate. Avoidance of these can help to reduce some of the symptoms.
  • Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth: This occurs when the bacteria in the large intestine travel to the small intestine. Normally these bacteria in the large intestine break down fibre, which is absorbed by microbes rendering it, safe. However in the small intestine, there is nothing to absorb it so discomfort may occur.
  • Low Stomach Acid: Found in the stomach and is what is used to begin the digestion of protein, stomach acid essentially acts as the pawns on a chessboard by offering frontline protection against things like food poisoning, parasites and other infections as well as helping to absorb minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Stomach acid may decrease with age and also in times of stress. Additionally many of us are on drugs to block stomach acid production, therefore it can leave us open to a range of infections. Some symptoms of low stomach acid are: Bloating- especially following a meal, belching, flatulence, indigestion, food allergies, chronic infections, weak or peeling nails, constipation or/and diarrhoea and more.
  • Parasites: Some of these little creatures can be helpful for us but in general they cause harm and we want to be rid of them from the body. Symptoms are IBS-like but also may include unexplained weight-loss, fatigue, joint or muscle aches and symptoms may come an go depending on the life-cycle of the particular parasite.
  • Medications: Use of medication such as antacids, antibiotics and antidepressants may lead to a disturbance in the balance of stomach bacteria, allowing numbers of bad bacteria to increase over good bacteria.

These are just some possible causes. There are many other causes of IBS. It is important to work with a Nutritional Therapist in order to be supported fully. They may recommend a Stool Analysis to help find the root cause of the symptoms.


 Nutritional Recommendations

  • Fibre: Fibre such as fruit and vegetables, rye, quinoa, oats, barley, brown rice and buckwheat can assist the digestive tract to move things along the intestinal lining and eliminate effectively. Soluble fibre such in dark green leafy vegetables, oats and flaxseed help to reduce LDL cholesterol, balance blood sugar and also  help bowel function.
  • Oily Fish: Such as mackerel and salmon are sources of Omega 3, acting as an anti-inflammatory action on the body, particularly the intestines.
  • Probiotics: Increasing fermented foods such as live yoghurt, Kefir, Miso and Sauerkraut can help to increase numbers of the good bacteria. It can also be beneficial to supplement with a daily probiotic supplement that contains strains Lactobacilli & Bifidobacteria. A particular favourite is ‘Optibac Daily Wellbeing Extra Strength’, which contains 20 billion live organisms.
  • Prebiotics: These act as foods for the probiotics and therefore encourage them to grow and multiply. Foods such as oats, onions, leeks, barley, garlic and sweet potatoes are rich in these.
  • Avoid foods that you know aggravate your symptoms.
  • Avoid foods that contain sugar and that are processed as they may aggravate the colon, increase levels of bad bacteria as well as raise the amount of sugar in your blood.
  • Chew your food: The more your mouth does, the less your digestion has to do. Chew until your food is almost a liquid in your mouth.

It is important for you to book an appointment with your GP to discuss your symptoms. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my Twitter @nkdnutrition or Facebook (facebook.com/thenkdnutrtionist).




Biocare: The Science of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Lipski E (2012) Digestive Wellness


Images: My Salon, Body and Beauty Healthcare Tips, Yoghurt Starter




Jul 12

A look into the official drink, official snack & official restaurant


With 24 days left until the opening ceremony of London 2012, I woke up this morning with the curiosity to investigate the Olympics a little further. Unsurprisingly it was apparent that the food sponsors were none other than:


The Official Snack                                                 The Official Restaurant


The Official Drink






With these three companies being the three main food sponsors, the message spells out that our athletes are consuming big macs and fries, washed down with litres of coke and share-size bars of dairy milk for dessert.


I think I may have found a reason why we don’t top the medal list and maybe it is why England just crashed out of Euro 2012.


The humour aside, let’s look at what would happen if our athletes were to consume this as part of their training.


Aside from feeling rather full and not being able to move and other physiological processes, the massive intake of food would cause the sugar in your blood to rise rapidly. The body releases the hormone insulin to bring the blood sugar back to a normal range by removing the sugar from the blood and into the cells of the body. As our athlete has consumed a 2012 sponsored meal, they will create what is called a blood sugar imbalance, where too much insulin is produced and as a result more sugar is taken out of the blood than normal, resulting in the blood sugar level dropping too low. Here they may feel lethargic, experience further food cravings and experience mood swings.

I guess this is not optimal for training. If they were to continue having sponsored meals, this may lead to the cells losing their ability to recognise that insulin is high therefore insulin and sugar remain in the blood. A blood sugar imbalance not only leads to weight-gain, it may also lead to diabetes.


It’s pretty obvious that our athletes aren’t eating this to prepare for the games but it is scandalous that London 2012 and the Olympic Committee allow such sponsors in a SPORTING event. Surely sport events with the world tuning in are a chance to promote health. This is especially since we are in the plagued with diet related disease including obesity.


I’m sure the brands mentioned above are paying huge amounts to London 2012 to have their brand thrust in our face and to be available at the Olympic park for spectators to consume. If health food companies were in the position to afford the huge fork out for sponsorship then maybe we would be sending out a better message and leaving a better legacy for the games. The ability to afford these sponsorship deals shouldn’t be the main reason why they are allowed to have them. Sponsorship deals should given to companies whose values accord with and promote the values of health and sports, the same values the athletes embody, which is reason why they are have been selected for the Olympics.

 What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject of non-event appropriate sponsors.


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