Many people who have been diagnosed with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, have experienced some relief to their symptoms after adopting a gluten-free diet.
Although, as yet, there hasn’t been any extensive research into this phenomena, a bulletin released by the American College of Gastroenterology claimed that there are some promises of relief for IBS sufferers who follow a gluten-free diet.
Before anyone suffering from IBS begins any such diet there are some particulars about the case that must be well understood. Patients suffering from IBS must be aware of some overlap between gluten sensitivity, IBS and celiac disease.
What is Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite present in many cereal grains especially wheat, it is also found in barley and rye. Obviously many of the food items we are accustomed to eating everyday come from these food sources. Breads, cereals and other baked goods all contain gluten and gluten is also an additive in many other food products.
IBS and Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a condition in which the consumption of gluten containing products can have a bad effect on the small intestine and can lead to a malabsorption of nutrients which can in turn manifest itself in a number of other health issues. The symptoms of celiac disease in the gastrointestinal system can closely resemble those of IBS and are often confused. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal bloat and cramping.
Research into the connection between IBS and celiac disease has produced conclusions all over the board. Some say that there is no increased risk of celiac disease to IBS sufferers and others that IBS sufferers are at 7 times the risk of celiac disease.
Due to the fair amount of confusion surrounding this overlap, the current medical trend, as laid out in the management guidelines for IBS, recommend periodic testing for celiac disease in all diarrhea predominant IBS and alternating type IBS patients.
If you have been confirmed with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential. There has been clinical studies to prove that IBS sufferers with celiac disease have experienced significant improvement in their condition while on a gluten-free diet. Some patients with IBS didn’t register any improvement on a gluten-free diet.
IBS and Gluten Sensitivity
It has happened many times that a patient who has tested negative to celiac disease still has a high sensitivity to gluten. This is a relatively new field of research. This sensitivity would come from some place other than damage in the small intestine as it does with celiac disease, there could be some sort of immune system reaction to the gluten, for instance.
This reaction can have both gastrointestinal effects or extraintestinal effects, effects that occur outside of the intestine, including migraine headaches.
Initial results indicate that there may be some form of gluten sensitivity that reacts in this manner but these results have not been established yet.
It is equally possible that IBS itself may be some form of advanced gluten sensitivity. Some clinical researchers believe there may exist a certain subset of IBS patients that have symptoms attributable to gluten sensitivity.
This is now being referred to as a nonceliac gluten sensitivity by the medical community.
There was a very interesting observation made by some clinical researchers while carefully examining wheat itself. Wheat contains short chain carbohydrates that have been identified as FODMAPs. These have been known to aggravate symptoms of abdominal upset. The medical industry has promised to keep us informed as they look into the effects and dangers of FODMAPs.
Is the Gluten-Free Diet Right for You?
The first thing you should do if you suspect you may have a gluten intolerance is contact your MD and get tested for celiac disease. To be sure the test is accurate you must be currently consuming gluten, in order to create an observable upset. Depending on the results of this test your next course of action may be a gluten-free diet or…
If the test results say you do not have an intolerance to gluten containing food products, you may consider asking your doctor about undergoing an elimination diet. A one month period should be sufficient to assess the condition and determine the effect of your diet on your IBS condition.
If Celiac disease is not ruled out by this diet, your doctor may suggest that you continue to consume gluten products at the end of the one month diet to see if any of the symptoms recur, this will determine whether your symptoms are due to a gluten intolerance.
This may seem like a lot of runaround, however it is also the best way to avoid any unnecessary restrictions. Granted, as the medical profession continues to perfect their techniques and methods of testing a blood test may be developed to better ascertain the tolerance to gluten.