Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Vitamin D Insufficiency

Posted: February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. The data suggests anywhere from 10-15% of Indians struggle with this condition. While it can cause debilitating pain, IBS is a functional bowel disorder, meaning there are no significant physical conditions that contribute to the problem. Common signs and symptoms of IBS include frequent abdominal discomfort and/or pain, spastic colon, gas and/or bloating, diarrhea, constipation etc.

Recent research has also highlighted the importance of vitamin D optimization in this condition. It suggests that low vitamin D status is common among the IBS population and merits assessment and rectification for general health reasons alone.

Aside from optimizing our vitamin D level, it would be wise to evaluate our diet a bit further. Avoiding gluten is an important first step in treating this condition, but avoiding GMO foods loaded with glyphosate and other pesticides may be equally important.

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If we struggle with IBS or any other gut-related issues, avoiding GE foods of all kinds may be a significant part of our answer. As for vitamin D, the evidence suggests 60 ng/mL may be a more ideal low-end target rather than 40 ng/mL. Hitting 60 ng/mL significantly lowers our risk of all cancers, and for women concerned with breast cancer, having a level of 60 ng/mL can lower our risk by as much as 83% compared to having a level below 20 ng/mL. For general health, 40 ng/mL appears to be the absolute lowest cut-off point, but most cancers still appear to occur in those with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL, so shooting a bit higher appears prudent.

Regular, sensible sun exposure is the best way to optimize our vitamin D status, but many will need to take an oral vitamin D3 supplement, especially during winter months. The only way to gauge whether we might need to supplement is to get our level tested, ideally twice a year, in the summer and winter when our level is at its peak and low point.

Aside from cleaning up our diet and optimizing our vitamin D, the following strategies may also help improve our IBS symptoms:

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Get checked for parasites. To make sure we’re not struggling with a physical condition that could be simulating IBS, have the stool checked for parasites. Some parasites can sometimes be a contributing factor that needs to be treated.

Boost healthy bacteria in the gut. Lowering the amounts of sugar and processed foods in our diet will automatically create a milieu that will support the growth of good bacteria, but we can further enhance that process by eating fermented foods and/or taking a high quality probiotic supplement.

Boost our fiber intake. Taking additional fiber can also be very helpful to control IBS symptoms such as constipation and diarrhoea. Fiber such as organic psyllium tends to be particularly helpful; it will soften the stool and help increase our bowel frequency, and if we have loose stools and frequent bowel movements, it will help with stool formation and decrease the frequency of bowel movements. Another good fiber source is whole, organic flaxseed. We can take few tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed per day, or better yet, soak the organic flax seeds overnight.

Address emotional challenges. Last but certainly not least, many IBS sufferers tend to have an unresolved emotional component that contributes to their physical problem. This is one of the reasons antidepressants are frequently prescribed. We may use meditation, prayer and psychological techniques to effectively address emotional challenges.

A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in our body and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout our body. Optimal Vitamin D levels can slash our risk of cancer by as much as 60%. Keeping our levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers.

 

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