Inflammatory Bowel

Introduction

Inflammation of the bowel may take place in the small intestine, where it can be caused by infection,viral or bacterial, parasites, dysbiosis, or celiac disease.

Crohn's Disease is usually found in the small intestine, but may extend lower, into the colon. It's cause is still not well understood. Colitis, inflammation In the large intestine colon, may be confined to the anal/rectal area where it is called proctitis.

With great effort, it is often possible to reverse these illnesses with changes in the diet and lifestyle, and with the addition of a few dietary supplements. In other, more advanced conditions, medications will be needed at the beginning of therapy, which hopefully, will be possible to be weaned off as the condition improves.

Inflammatory bowel is a very common disorder affecting perhaps 5% of all people in the industrialized world and heralds a serious disturbance in the way the intestines function.

Left untreated,in addition to the profound effects on life in general, many people with these conditions may later develop an autoimmune disease like lupus, thyroid disease, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Other conditions like asthma may accompany or follow inflammatory bowel disease, so it's important to heal this condition early.

Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • abdominal pain

  • bloating and or cramping

  • passing excess gas

  • diarrhea or constipation, lumpy or loose stool

  • feeling generally unwell

  • passing mucus or blood in the stool

  • stool urgency or straining

  • anemia

  • low grade fever which may be intermittent or be accompanied by night sweats

  • weight loss

This is an intolerable situation. It can be disabling and even lethal.

Causes of Inflammatory Bowel

Lets first imagine the ideal setting for perfect digestion - perhaps attainable rarely. You are hungry. You anticipate the meal, perhaps you help to prepare it, or you can see it in your imagination (on the menu). You are in a peaceful setting with friend(s) discussing items of interest. You have lots of time. The food is ready. It smells and looks wonderful. You take lots of time to chew well, stopping before you are over-full, finishing the meal in peace and go for a stroll afterwards.

In consequence, in this perfect scenario, you have one, two, or even three easy, well formed "smiles" as bowel movements daily, and very little gas.

This isn't the life most of us lead. Is it any wonder that digestive aids are hot selling items?

So what are the factors that usually contribute to an inflammatory bowel?

  • often an infection - stomach flu, bacterial or parasitic intestinal infection, perhaps a respiratory treated with an antibiotic

  • food poisoning

  • possible infection with a type of dangerous bacteria, Clostridium dificile. frequently found after antibiotic treatment

  • a long period of preceding irritable bowel

  • rushing, not chewing well (aim for not fewer than 30 chews/mouthful)

  • drinking liquids with meals esp. cold ones (dilutes your gastric juices and impairs digestion)

  • disturbance in the friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the intestine, usually from a diet which habitually includes lots of carbs, sweets, alcohol, fruit or fruit juice, or perhaps had a recent course of antibiotics without replacing the good bacteria

  • stress, emotional upset

  • poor food choices - excess in general, too much meat, too few vegetables and, to a lesser extent excess fruit and sweets

  • lots of refined flour products - bread, crackers, pizza, pasta

Diagnosis of Irritable BowelColon

A diagnosis of inflammatory bowel is based on your symptoms and on results from endoscopy- usually colonoscopy and, or, radiology procedures. You likely will have some of the symptoms for a period of time - usually over six months.

You start with a referral from your primary care physician to a gastroenterologist who may elect to do gastroscopy (to look at your stomach and upper intestine), blood tests to rule out celiac disease, stool samples to rule out bacteria and parasites, and a colonoscopy to examine the lower bowel.

Medical Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The goal here is to suppress symptoms. Inflammation is handled with NSAIDS - the standard first line is to use an aspirin analog - 5'ASA. Steroids are added when the condition does not improve. In some severe cases, immunosupressive medications may be tried.

A low residue diet is often prescribed with the goal of providing nutrients, but not fibre which may cause diarrhea. If no progress is made with these treatments, an immunosuppresant may be tried, or the bowel may be 'rested' with intravenous feeding (TPN). The last resort is surgical removal of the affected part a (often lengths of the small intestine - sometimes the whole colon).

Summary of Medical Approaches:

  • when inflammatory bowel disease develops, treatment focuses on reduction of inflammation with NSAIDS, aspirin or similar medications, steroids, occasionally, antibiotics

  • prescribed diet changes with the addition of soluble fibre products, often those containing psyllium

  • prescribed antispasmodics (can help to relieve symptoms but don't fix the problem )

  • anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants

  • when medical treatments fail, surgery is often the last resort and can be excision of a affected segment of bowel but can be as drastic as removal of most of the colon

  • antibiotics may prove to be useful as long term treatment in the case of chronic inflammatory bowel disease where they may reduce inflammation and promote healing

What is going on in the Body with Inflammatory Bowel ?

In Inflammatory Bowel Disease there is a major disaster taking place. The following drawing is my attempt to illustrate the situation in inflammatory bowel disease.

Infection, swelling, thickening of the intestine wall have made the normal functions almost impossible. Gas forms because of food fermentation and the presence of yeasts. The bowel oozes mucus which the intestine tries to hurry out giving rise to pain, urgency and diarrhea. Bacteria leak out of the bowel wall and into the lymph and bloodstream. The fight going on in the body gives rise to fever, joint pain, rashes, headache and overall weakness.

Bloating is caused by gas produced in the intestine, or swallowed, either in carbonated drinks or unconsciously. A healthy person produces a small amount of only slightly noxious gas daily. Fermentation producing excess gas occurs in a number of different situations:

  • when food sits in the intestine for too long because the intestine is sluggish

  • when digestion is weakened i.e. with antacids or acid inhibitors

  • by the consumption of excess food in general, and by sweets and carbs

  • by eating foods which the body has difficulty combining (see food combining suggestions)

  • from the presence of Candida in the intestine

Cramping comes from several causes:

  • constipated, hard stool - usually related to excess consumption of meat, concentrated dairy products like cheese, bread products, and insufficient vegetable foods

  • excess food eaten too fast

  • caffeine in excess

  • stress and tension

  • from infection or food poisoning

Diarrhea- loose watery stool means the intestine is irritated and trying to get its contents out in a hurry. This can occur in a number of situations:

  • infection - viral gastroenteritis, bacterial infections, dysbiosis

  • food intolerances (lactose or gluten) are frequent culprits

  • stress

  • laxative abuse

  • food poisoning

  • Candida can also cause diarrhoea

Overview of Healing Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Healing these advanced conditions is very difficult. Often people with these conditions are very ill. Stopping medical treatment can only be safely done under close medical supervision. Sudden discontinuation of any medicines, especially steroids is dangerous.

There is no magic bullet to take to cure irritable bowel or inflammatory bowel disease. With help, many determined people will make a major recovery by embracing a significant diet change, attitude and lifestyle shifts and starting a regime of natural supplements.

There is however a way to make these conditions better in almost every case. With help, many determined people will make a major recovery by embracing a significant diet change, attitude and lifestyle shifts and starting a regime of natural supplements.

Sometimes, it's easier to change a diet but attitudes and habits may be harder to do. You will get support for these changes by working with a qualified professional. Make your eating a priority. Invest in some good quality digestive enzymes and probiotics.

Recently, there has been the discovery that some people with inflammatory bowel disease have a type of infection with a type of Mycobacterium, which has responded to antibiotic treatments.

Supplements

Taking enzymes and probiotics are usually vital in healing inflammatory bowel.

I suggest starting with a type of yeast, (the usual probiotic is a bacteria), which competes with the dangerous yeasts (Candida) and harmful bacteria in the intestine. Start with Saccachromyces boulardii, a live yeast which will multiply in the intestine and throw out the harmful bacteria and yeasts without itself becoming a permanent resident on the bowel. Take two capsules two times daily with foods. Also immediately begin using a high quality digestive enzyme supplement to aid in the breakdown of dietary proteins.

As the negative symptoms begin to subside, switch from Saccachromyces to Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. bifidus. These live bacteria are usually present in a healthy intestine but are largely eliminated when we take a course of antibiotics. When they are missing in the gut, they create an opportunity for harmful bacteria and yeasts to move in. In the beginning of the healing process taking these probiotics daily together with enzymes is crucial.

Later, as inflammation subsides, the addition of fish oil, which reduces inflammation, Vitamin D, and WGP™ beta glucan will be very helpful for most people.

Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This diet has to be tough to be effective. You will need help preparing it in the beginning, if you are too weak to cook. You will need to start with a diet low in fibre which means no fruit, raw vegetables or whole grain. Meat, especially lamb, if de-fatted and cooked into a stew, may be easy for some people to absorb. Beans are no good because they tend to promote bloating. I recommend completely going off gluten grains. Avoid cow's milk or any products made from it with the exception of butter.

The Candida diet is a good way to start. It is tough to do but in a few days you will begin to see results. For some people with severe illness it will be necessary to persevere for months before you begin to really see results. The benefit will be that your bowel movements become easier, the cramps, blood and mucus will disappear and your energy level will pick up. Headaches and skin rashes will also likely improve.

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