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WBB: How NOT to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

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Posted: 1/11/2015 12:00:00 PM
Edited: 5/5/2022 9:31:05 PM (1)

Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2015-01-11
on the Wheat Belly Blog, sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index of WB Blog articles.

How NOT to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

woman bent over with intestinal distress

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects 10-20% of the population. People struggle with unexplained bloating, abdominal discomfort, and inconvenient and embarrassing bowel urgency, having to empty their bowels unexpectedly. Some also struggle with intermittent constipation, as well. It turns something that should be subconscious, predictable, and serene into a nightmare.

The typical medical evaluation involves endoscopy and colonoscopy, since procedures, whether necessary or not, pay gastroenterologists well, performed under the guise of ruling out cancer. When they find nothing or only minor findings, such as mild gastritis or erosions, then the prescriptions begin: acid blocking agents, antidepressants, narcotics for pain, anti spasm agents, etc–none address the cause, none are terribly effective, all have undesirable side effects, many of which people are not told about (e.g., unhealthy changes in bowel flora and increased osteoporosis from acid blockers, weight gain from antidepressants).

We see IBS symptoms disappear daily in the majority of people following the Wheat Belly lifestyle of no wheat or grains, even after years of struggle. It is uncommon to not experience improvement or complete relief. Obtaining relief from IBS symptoms therefore starts with wheat and grain elimination. While modern semidwarf wheat is the worst, other grains overlap in many aspects. For example, wheat germ agglutinin that, by itself, exerts a potent bowel toxic effect, can be found in wheat, rye, barley, and rice. Eliminating all grains thereby eliminates the entire collection of grain bowel toxins.

Whatever you do, please don’t label this going “gluten-free,” as you will recall that gluten is just one bowel toxin among several in wheat and related grains. Other grain toxins include phytates, D-amino acids, wheat germ agglutinin, as well as gliadin-derived peptides and other partially-digested peptide fragments. In other words, wheat and grains represent an entire collection of bowel disruptive toxins. Gluten-free replacement foods made with cornstarch, rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato flour also mess up bowel flora and cause IBS and other bowel symptoms to persist. NOBODY here should be eating such gluten-free junk replacements.

People with IBS as a rule start out with substantially disrupted bowel flora: limited species diversity with predominance of unhealthy species. This needs to be corrected to reverse symptoms. An occasional person has bowel flora that is so irretrievably disrupted that a course of antibiotics is required to start with a clean slate. However, the majority can do well by cultivating healthy bowel flora with a combination of a high-potency probiotic preparation for several weeks to months coupled with a program of prebiotic fibers/resistant starches that nourish bowel flora. (This is discussed here in the Wheat Belly Blog and in detail in Wheat Belly Total Health.) This is a process that typically requires 2-3 months to become established.

It may also help to minimize exposure to ubiquitous environmental chemicals that can modify bowel flora. This is a long and daunting list and includes: bisphenol A from cans and plastics, as well as other plasticizers; chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride in municipal drinking water; antibiotic residues in factory-farmed meats and non-organic dairy; herbicides and pesticides in produce; genetically-modified food with glyphosate and Bt toxin; arsenic from rice.

Some people need to consider dairy elimination, also, to avoid both lactose and the casein protein, especially if the above efforts fail to yield full benefit. Occasionally, there is value is identifying other food intolerances as a source of symptoms either through formal testing or a simple process of trial and error. One potential tripping point for some people: fructose sources, including fruit, at least until bowel flora are restored to a healthy profile.

The basic formula is very simple, but astoundingly effective in the majority of people with this condition. It is certainly better than taking a handful of ineffective drugs with undesirable side-effects, while receiving glazed looks from gastroenterologists mostly interested in knowing when they can get away with yet another unnecessary endoscopy.

More like this discussion, i.e., how to NOT have many common health conditions, can be found in Wheat Belly Total Health.

D.D. Infinite Health icon

Tags: IBS,sibo