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Scientific research on Irritable Bowel Syndrome translated into useful information. Insights from those with expertise and experience of IBS with links to real life stories and solutions.
Coffee can bug or de-bug you - in many different ways.It can actually energize your gut bugs. Nestlé researchers showed that for sixteen healthy adult volunteers consuming a daily dose of 3 cups of coffee during 3 weeks. This led to an increase of the metabolic activity and/or numbers of Bifidobacterium species, important probiotics in the food industry. Bifidobacteria has been long suggested to be therapeutic for the relief of intestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). These microbes can crowd out the bad bacteria and fight inflammation. Does it mean coffee can alleviate IBS?Unfortunately, no one was ever able to cure IBS with coffee. And diets lowering the amounts of bifidobacteria (like low FODMAP diet) are actually most beneficial for conditions associated with bacterial imbalance. Even though Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 was shown to help women at a dosage of 1x108 CFU for 4 weeks (but not 106 or 108 CFU!) with abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and other IBS symptoms. And B. lactis DN-173 010 helped healthy women to reduce transit time when 1010 CFU of these bacteria was taken for 10 days.RNA-DGGE gels of fecal samples showing abundance and/or metabolic activity of dominant bacteria before and after coffee consumptionToo much of a good thing can be a problem and it's important to keep even "good" bacteria at bay. How much is too much coffee for IBS sufferers? It depends. And it varies from being able to only smell coffee (which might be enough to protect from stress and cavities) to drinking two cups per day.Everything is relative. That's why Aurametrix computes tolerance profiles based on many different factors - time of the consumption relative to wake up and bed times, diet an hour, week and month prior to consumption, medications and supplements, activity, gender, medical history, stress levels, the weather and genetics.General recommendation for healthy people is to limit their coffee intake to about 4 or 3 cups - for men and women respectively. To prevent insomnia, digestive issues, a racing heart, high blood pressure, nervousness, irritability, nausea, risk of developing glaucoma and other short & long term problems. And it's best to drink coffee in the first half of the day - as caffeine's half life is 5 hours or more, longer with unhealthy diet and medical conditions (it could be up to 7 days for people with alcoholic hepatic disease!). The worse your coffee metabolism is, the less you should drink it. Genetically-slow caffeine metabolizers (individuals homozygous for the CYP1A2*1A allele in their genes) should actually limit coffee to 1 cup or less, to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction. Rapid caffeine metabolizers with CYP1A2*1F genotype, on the other hand, could reduce their heart failure risk by moderate consumption of coffee. Coffee could help mice avoid skin cancer - but only if they are also vigorously exercising. It can prevent reoccurence of breast cancer - if you already had it and are taking tamoxifen. Combination With the right genes, bacteria, diet, activities and the brain gut axis, moderate amounts of coffee can also decrease risks of type 2 diabetes, depression, workplace apathy, cognitive decline, gout attacks, respiratory disease, infections, stroke, injuries and accidents.But these are statistical averages. And you are not average. You are unique and paradoxical in your own wonderful way. Aurametrix was created to help you understand that.What is your Coffee worth?REFERENCESJaquet M, Rochat I, Moulin J, Cavin C, & Bibiloni R (2009). Impact of coffee consumption on the gut microbiota: a human volunteer study. International journal of food microbiology, 130 (2), 117-21 PMID: 19217682Cornelis, MC et al., 2006. Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction. J. Amer. Med. Assn. 295(10):1135-1141.Nehlig A: The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013, 75:716–727.Lucas M, Mirzaei F, Pan A, Okereke OI, Willett WC, O'Reilly ÉJ, Koenen K, Ascherio A: Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women. Arch Intern Med 2011, 171:1571–1578Jin JS, Touyama M, Hisada T, Benno Y: Effects of green tea consumption on human fecal microbiota with special reference to Bifidobacterium species. Microbiol Immunol 2012, 56:729–739.Maria Simonsson, Viktoria Söderlind, Maria Henningson, Maria Hjertberg... Read more »
Jaquet M, Rochat I, Moulin J, Cavin C, & Bibiloni R. (2009) Impact of coffee consumption on the gut microbiota: a human volunteer study. International journal of food microbiology, 130(2), 117-21. PMID: 19217682
If you suffer from IBS, chances are you're very considerate of others and even possibly an anxious 'catastrophizer'. It was repeatedly concluded based on magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and psychological questionnaires - for students, older men and women, Easterners and Westerners, right-handed and left-handed individuals. In fact, IBS sufferers' anxieties are somewhere in between those of people with Crohn's disease (similar to healthy persons) and panic patients. And many IBS sufferers are convinced that social and occupational implications of their gastrointestinal symptoms are a catastrophe.As someone once said, catastrophizing is not just about watching slow German films or reading Russian literature and feeling as though life is an intolerable and senseless joke. If practiced properly, catastrophizing could make many things go wrong and create a reality around our worries and fears. Including fears focused on the gut. Because if you believe something will go wrong, you make it go wrong.But is it the personality that makes us susceptible to IBS or is it IBS that changes our personality? The connection between the brain and the gut is definitely bidirectional. So this question might be a chicken-and-egg problem. Animal studies suggest that perturbations of behavior, such as stress, can alter microbial communities in the gut. Experimental perturbation of the microbial communities, in its turn, can alter behavior. Getting rid of some microbes helped mice to reduce anxiety or even become bold and adventurous (after neomycin, bacitracin, and pimaricin antibiotics were administered to timid and shy BALB/c mice), while adding new species of bacteria such as Campylobacter jejuni made mice more cautious.Many recent studies indicate the possibility of discovering bacteria specific for different types of IBS. But you can make your own discoveries before science does. Such as the best diet, exercise and emotional attitude to cultivate the bacteria of success.Loading...If your result is the last one in the table below, you might need to refresh the page to see it.Or see individual responses, if interested. Your score is represented in three dimensions:rumination (repetitiveness of focusing on the symptoms of distress), magnification (the degree to which you tend to magnify your symptoms) and hopelessness (the despair you feel when you have abandoned hope of comfort or success). REFERENCESHazlett-Stevens H, Craske MG, Mayer EA, et al. Prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome among university students: the roles of worry, neuroticism, anxiety sensitivity and visceral anxiety. J Psychosom Res 2003;55:501–505.Ng SM, Chow KW. Symptoms catastrophizing versus social hypervigilance in irritable bowel syndrome patients. Soc Work Health Care. 2012;51(8):743-56. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2012.701001.Hunt MG, Moshier S, Milonova M. Brief cognitive-behavioral internet therapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Behav Res Ther. 2009 Sep;47(9):797-802. Epub 2009 May 20.Eric L. Garland, Susan A. Gaylord, Olafur Palsson, Keturah Faurot, J. Douglas Mann and William E. Whitehead Therapeutic mechanisms of a mindfulness-based treatment for IBS: effects on visceral sensitivity, catastrophizing, and affective processing of pain sensations. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2011, Dec. 8Blankstein U, Chen J, Diamant NE, Davis KD. Altered brain structure in irritable bowel syndrome: potential contributions of pre-existing and disease-driven factors.Gastroenterology. 2010 May;138(5):1783-9. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.12.043. Epub 2010 Jan 4.Collins SM, Surette M, & Bercik P (2012). The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 10 (11), 735-42 PMID: 23000955Neufeld KM, Kang N, Bienenstock J, Foster JA. Reduced anxiety-like behavior and central neurochemical change in germ-free mice. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Mar;23(3):255-64, e119. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01620.x. Epub 2010 Nov 5.Collins SM, Bercik P. The relationship between intestinal microbiota and the central nervous system in normal gastrointestinal function and disease. Gastroenterology. 2009 May;136(6):2003-14. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.01.075. Epub 2009 May 7.Neufeld KM, Kang N, Bienenstock J, Foster JA. Reduced anxiety-like behavior and central neurochemical change in germ-free mice. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Mar;23(3):255-64, e119. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01620.x. Epub 2010 Nov 5.Sullivan MJL, Bishop S, Pivik J. The Pain Catastrophizing scale: development and validation. Psychol Assess 1995;7:524–32. (the manual)... Read more »
Collins SM, Surette M, & Bercik P. (2012) The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain. Nature reviews. Microbiology, 10(11), 735-42. PMID: 23000955
Our bacteria are picky eaters. Some of them - like Prevotelia - prefer a high carbohydrate diet, while others - like Bacteroides - stick to unhealthy western lifestyle with lots of meat and fat. The most prevalent bacteria in the gut of horses, cows and goats prefer people consuming alcohol and polyunsaturated fats. Methanobrevibacter is most abundant in anorexic nervosa patients. Gram negative bacillus Bilophila wadsworthia loves people with gangrenous appendicitis or those whose diets are high in milk fat. The most widely promoted prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides seem to attract Bifidobacteria. What about diets low in poorly absorbed fermentable carbohydrates aka FODMAPs that seem to aggravate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ? Which bacteria is responsible?A recently completed clinical trial looked at the effects of low-FODMAP dieting by analyzing Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA), pH and other qualities of stool.The data show that with less FODMAPs in the diet, there seemed to be less water and fermentable substances in the proximal colon, and less gastrointestinal distress in patients with IBS. This randomized controlled trial also demonstrated a reduction in concentration and proportion of luminal bifidobacteria after 4 wk of fermentable carbohydrate restriction.Bifidobacteria? Isn't it one of the "friendliest" bacteria alleviating symptoms in IBS, by normalizing the ratio of an anti-inflammatory to proinflammatory cytokines? At least, as was shown for B.infanitis 35624 and B. animalis DN-173 010 in different studies. It looks like that the most effective species and the implications of diets on the gastrointestinal microbiota are still uncertain. After all, another study showed that even though IBS sufferers have lower amounts of Bifidobacteria than non-sufferers, those whose symptoms are less severe show even lower amounts of Bifidobacteria in their samples.What can we say except that more studies are needed...REFERENCESStaudacher HM, Lomer MC, Anderson JL, Barrett JS, Muir JG, Irving PM, & Whelan K (2012). Fermentable carbohydrate restriction reduces luminal bifidobacteria and gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The Journal of nutrition, 142 (8), 1510-8 PMID: 22739368Suzanne Devkota, Yunwei Wang, Mark W. Musch, Vanessa Leone, Hannah Fehlner-Peach, Anuradha Nadimpalli, Dionysios A. Antonopoulos, Bana Jabri, Eugene B. Chang. Dietary-fat-induced taurocholic acid promotes pathobiont expansion and colitis in Il10−/− mice. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11225Cui S, & Hu Y (2012). Multistrain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine, 5 (3), 238-44 PMID: 22837798Wu GD, Chen J, Hoffmann C, Bittinger K, Chen YY, Keilbaugh SA, Bewtra M, Knights D, Walters WA, Knight R, Sinha R, Gilroy E, Gupta K, Baldassano R, Nessel L, Li H, Bushman FD, & Lewis JD (2011). Linking long-term dietary patterns with gut microbial enterotypes. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334 (6052), 105-8 PMID: 21885731O'Mahony L, McCarthy J, Kelly P, Hurley G, Luo F, Chen K, O'Sullivan GC, Kiely B, Collins JK, Shanahan F, Quigley EM. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium in irritable bowel syndrome: symptom responses and relationship to cytokine profiles. Gastroenterology. 2005 Mar;128(3):541-51.4XQRMSVVJ5UC ... Read more »
Staudacher HM, Lomer MC, Anderson JL, Barrett JS, Muir JG, Irving PM, & Whelan K. (2012) Fermentable carbohydrate restriction reduces luminal bifidobacteria and gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The Journal of nutrition, 142(8), 1510-8. PMID: 22739368
Cui S, & Hu Y. (2012) Multistrain probiotic preparation significantly reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. International journal of clinical and experimental medicine, 5(3), 238-44. PMID: 22837798
Wu GD, Chen J, Hoffmann C, Bittinger K, Chen YY, Keilbaugh SA, Bewtra M, Knights D, Walters WA, Knight R.... (2011) Linking long-term dietary patterns with gut microbial enterotypes. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6052), 105-8. PMID: 21885731
A top story in today’s news is related to a recent scientific paper published in Current Biology concerning the dinosaurs. British scientists wanted to know, Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth? By their estimates, some 520 million tons of methane (a “greenhouse gas” emission) were produced by the flatulent beasts every year. This begs the question, do flatulent humans today also contribute to global warming? Probably not enough to be concerned about. Even so, this doesn’t allay the anxieties people have about expulsing gas—anxieties that have more to do with interpersonal relationships in the workplace than with the implications of global warming. As Dr. Wynne-Jones says in an article on diverticular disease, many bowel-related problems are in fact confined to modern urban communities affecting “the cultured, the refined, the considerate.” Folks go out of their way to avoid beans in their diet for fear of embarrassing themselves in a working environment where everyone is packed together in neighboring cubicles.Happily, Winham and Hutchins discovered that over 50% of people can consume up to ½ cup of beans daily without any adverse effects. But how do you know how much beans to eat on your own? How do you arrive at the Goldilocks amount—not too much, not too little—that’s just right for you?Personal health analysis tools like Aurametrix are already making it possible to apply systematic measures to discover for ourselves our individual tolerance levels for a wide variety of foods. As Aurametrix founder Irene Gabashvili remarked in her Forbes article: “A digital nurse can analyze hundreds of ‘health variables’ in search of patterns in the data. She could do this with far greater precision than a physician or nutritionist, due to her ability to quickly and tirelessly check all possible combinations. In a relatively short timeframe she could narrow down the factors that are positively and negatively influencing your health, while taking into consideration your pre-existing conditions and sensitivities.”To see the digital nurse in action, see the video below. It shows how to pin-point the causes of a related, though potentially embarrassing, physiological process: frequent stomach growling.REFERENCES Wilkinson, D., Nisbet, E., & Ruxton, G. (2012). Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth? Current Biology, 22 (9) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.042 Winham DM, & Hutchins AM (2011). Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies. Nutrition journal, 10 PMID: 22104320Wynne-Jones, G. (1975) Flatus retention is the major factor in diverticular disease. The Lancet, 306 (7927), 211 - 212, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(75)90677-7... Read more »
Wilkinson, D., Nisbet, E., & Ruxton, G. (2012) Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?. Current Biology, 22(9). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.042
Winham DM, & Hutchins AM. (2011) Perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption among adults in 3 feeding studies. Nutrition journal, 128. PMID: 22104320
A number of studies have suggested that a higher intake of lycopene-containing foods decreases the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, other cancers and infections, even cataracts and asthma. What are the potential side effects?... Read more »
Jatoi A, Burch P, Hillman D, Vanyo JM, Dakhil S, Nikcevich D, Rowland K, Morton R, Flynn PJ, Young C.... (2007) A tomato-based, lycopene-containing intervention for androgen-independent prostate cancer: results of a Phase II study from the North Central Cancer Treatment Group. Urology, 69(2), 289-94. PMID: 17320666
Starch is that stuff that stiffens your shirts. It's also what most people eat for fuel. Wheat, rice, corn, oats, potatoes are all very starchy foods. Many popular diet plans call starch a second-rate food that should be avoided at all costs. No-starch and low starch diets are favored by irritable bowel communities, while former Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Atkins enthusiasts love the new Carb Lovers Diet praising starch. Yet, there may be something good about starch even for those with sensitive stomachs. Starch is a mixture of long and intermingled molecules digested with different rates and outcomes. Our bodies' response to eating starch depends on its amount and types along with our nature  and nurture, including intestinal microbes eating the leftovers .Resistant Starch (RS), also called Functional Fiber, is a type of starch that may have beneficial physiological effects. It is further classified into four or five classes, like RS2 in potatoes or RS3 (maltodextrin on food labels) formed when starchy foods are cooked and cooled. Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine of healthy individuals. It is an effective prebiotic as it feeds and stimulates specific bacteria in the gut . Bacteria consuming resistant starch raise levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and derivatives that can act as a source of energy [2,4] and provide other benefits like protection from inflammatory conditions of the bowel. Over 200 nutritional studies showed that resistant starch increases satiety, reduces food consumption and can prevent weight regain, acting almost like exercise. It also lowered insulin levels and reduced the deposition of fat.How much resistant starch do we need to eat? Adults in most developed countries consume between 3-7 grams of resistant starch per day. The Carb lovers diet recommends 10-15 grams. According to an earlier Australian study , 20 grams per day may be even more beneficial. However, optimal levels of resistant starch in diet are very individual, depending on body weight, metabolism, microbial makeup and dietary preferences. Flatulence and belching are among potential side effects. Resistant starch is like other types of fiber and prebiotics – everybody has their own individual threshold and every extra gram leads to production of excessive gas . Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin, prebiotics selectively stimulating bacteria in the colon, usually lead to mild flatulence starting from about 10 grams per day. Isolated individuals experience discomfort even at 5 grams. 14-15 grams per day usually mark the threshold for significant increase in flatulence, stomach growling and cramping. Resistant starch may have slightly higher sensitivity thresholds .
... Read more »
Bird AR, Conlon MA, Christophersen CT, & Topping DL. (2010) Resistant starch, large bowel fermentation and a broader perspective of prebiotics and probiotics. Beneficial microbes, 1(4), 423-31. PMID: 21831780
And the answer is ... either or all of the above. And this is not a complete list of all that can happen. In some rare conditions, for example, tryptophan could also make your pee purple.Tryptophan supplements were used as a popular sleeping aid until negative press in 1989. The FDA banned dietary tryptophan supplements from the market, just days before the arrival of Prozac rising as the new promise for chemical happiness. Further investigation showed that ill effects of tryptophan were actually due to a contaminant in the supplement not the amino acid itself. Today you can find tryptophan at many supplement retailers. You can also get it from food - from chocolate or red meat, for example. What does it really do in our bodies?Tryptophan is a complex aromatic amino acid - one of eight "essential" amino acids that have to be taken with food as they cannot be created by the human body. Tryptophan metabolism is complex - KEGG pathway shows the multitude of reactions it participates in. One of tryptophan metabolites - Kynurenic acid - is involved in the regulatory function of the gastrointestinal system and the modulation of the inflammatory response. Another metabolite is neurotransmitter Serotonin which has a calming and sleeping-inducing effect on the brain. Tryptophan can be used by the body to create 5-hydroxytryptophan (also known as 5-HTP and oxitriptan). 5-HTP is sold as a dietary supplement as an antidepressant and sleep aid. It is marketed under many different trade names such as Cincofarm, Levothym, Oxyfan and Triptum. Studies showed that 5-HTP provides benefits with regard to depression, blood pressure and regular sleep patterns. So even though that fact that the Thanksgiving turkey is responsible for sleepiness is an urban legend, tryptophan could definitely contribute to calmness and happiness. Yet, according to a study by British researchers, irritable bowel syndrome sufferers have an increase in gastrointestinal symptoms after ingestion of a large dose of tryptophan, in addition to having fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. One of the reasons: tryptophan metabolism along the kynurenine pathway is inhibited. According to earlier studies (like the referenced 1998 articles by Austrian scientists), people with fructose malabsorption have abnormal tryptophan metabolism too, leaving them with less available tryptophan, and it seems to be responsible for mental depression (Ledochowski et al., 1998). What happens to tryptophan abnormally accumulated in intestines? Here are the bad news - it is utilized by intestinal bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus) and converted into indole and skatole - metabolites responsible for strong fecal smell. The rate of production of these smelly compounds depends on the acidity - it is greatest at pH 6.5 and less at pH 5.0 and 8.0. Food-food interaction could lessen or enhance the "smelly"effects. The suppression of tryptophan degradation by propolis, for example, could contribute to beneficial health properties. Preliminary results were also reported for cocoa extracts, Fructooligosacharides (FOS) and resistant starch, but more studies are needed.So, how much tryptophan do you really need? Half a gram, 2 grams, even more? It depends on your metabolism, your life style and your diet. It may be a good idea to watch your wellbeing along with tryptophan intake, to find your own optimal daily value.REFERENCESCapuron L, Schroecksnadel S, Féart C, Aubert A, Higueret D, Barberger-Gateau P, Layé S, & Fuchs D (2011). Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation in Elderly Persons Is Associated with Altered Tryptophan and Tyrosine Metabolism: Role in Neuropsychiatric Symptoms. Biological psychiatry PMID: 21277567Christmas DM; Badawy AAB; Hince D; Davies SJC; Probert C; Creed T; Smithson J; Afzal M; et al. (Oct 2010). Increased serum free tryptophan in patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. NUTR RES. 30:678-688. DOI.Hood SD; Hince DA; Davies SJC; Argyropoulos S; Robinson H; Potokar J; Nutt DJ. (Feb 2010). Effects of acute tryptophan depletion in serotonin reuptake inhibitor-remitted patients with generalized anxiety disorder. PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY. 208:223-232. DOI.Shufflebotham J; Hood S; Hendry J; Hince DA; Morris K; Nutt D; Probert C; Potokar J. (Nov 2006). Acute tryptophan depletion alters gastrointestinal and anxiety symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 101:2582-2587. DOI.Ledochowski M, Widner B, Murr C, Sperner-Unterweger B, Fuchs D. Fructose malabsorption is associated with decreased plasma tryptophan. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2001 Apr;36(4):367-71.Ledochowski M, Sperner-Unterweger B, Widner B, Fuchs D. Fructose malabsorption is associated with early signs of mental depression. Eur J Med Res. 1998 Jun 17;3(6):295-8. Xu ZR, Hu CH, Wang MQ. Effects of fructooligosaccharide on conversion of L-tryptophan to skatole and indole by mixed populations of pig fecal bacteria. J Gen Appl Microbiol. 2002 Apr;48(2):83-90.Jones HE, Johnson RE, Bigelow GE, Silverman K, Mudric T, Strain EC. Safety and efficacy of L-tryptophan and behavioral incentives for treatment of cocaine dependence: a... Read more »
Capuron L, Schroecksnadel S, Féart C, Aubert A, Higueret D, Barberger-Gateau P, Layé S, & Fuchs D. (2011) Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation in Elderly Persons Is Associated with Altered Tryptophan and Tyrosine Metabolism: Role in Neuropsychiatric Symptoms. Biological psychiatry. PMID: 21277567
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is nothing to sneeze at. Especially during the sneezing season. As a matter of fact, you are more prone to have irritable bowel if you have a seasonal allergy. The likelihood of IBS is 3 times higher in patients reporting atopic symptoms (2.67 times higher in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and 3. 85 times higher in patients with allergic eczema, according to Tobin and his colleagues who administered questionnaires to 125 patients). So some of that abdominal pain may be part of allergic disease. Almost any other symptom of IBS may owe to it, too. See for example this case involving leaky gut and diarrhea or this case of bloating and constipation.It is May and grass pollen is adding to flowering trees in most of the US. Europe is experiencing high birch pollen counts with grasses ready to pop up. The Mediterranean region is dominated by the pollination of grasses and olive trees. Allergy season is over in Japan, Australia and South Africa but new pollen sources will be soon waking up. Seasonal allergies are common. It is estimated that 15-20% of Americans suffer from seasonal and perennial allergies. Numbers of sufferers have been increasing over the years. The best way to control allergies is to avoid the triggers - stay indoors, wash hands and take showers after coming in from outdoors. Of course, there are also drugs. But relief from allergies could come in more natural ways. For example, from probiotics. A recent study showed that Lactobacillus paracasei, commonly found in our orifices (oral and rectal mucosa to be more precise) could help with grass allergies. This is not news - earlier research showed it was effective against diarrhea in infants and helped some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal allergies. The research was sponsored by Nestle, one of several manufacturers already adding L. paracasei to their products. Their results, based on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, show that the ability of the nose to combat allergies significantly improves (NCT01150253). Where are these probiotics found? Lactobacillus bacteria are involved in dairy fermentation and are present in fermented milk products and cheeses. Irish Cheddar, hand-made Spanish cheeses, Ricotta, Italian hard cheeses and Mozzarella harbor many different strains of lactobacilli. Many of these products, however, are not tolerated well by the IBS population about half of which is lactose intolerant. The good news is that probiotics are not only in dairy products. Lactobacillus paracasei LMGP22043 found in artichokes was recently shown to be carried into the human gut and challenge the bad guys there (E.coli and Clostridium). And even though European food safety authority believes that LMGP22043 does not relieve gastrointestinal discomfort, there were studies showing that artichokes do help those with alternating IBS. So enjoy your vegetables and lets do more research! ... Read more »
Wassenberg J, Nutten S, Audran R, Barbier N, Aubert V, Moulin J, Mercenier A, & Spertini F. (2011) Effect of Lactobacillus paracasei ST11 on a nasal provocation test with grass pollen in allergic rhinitis. Clinical and experimental allergy : journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 41(4), 565-73. PMID: 21395878
Valerio F, de Candia S, Lonigro SL, Russo F, Riezzo G, Orlando A, De Bellis P, Sisto A, & Lavermicocca P. (2011) Role of the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei LMGP22043 carried by artichokes in influencing faecal bacteria and biochemical parameters in human subjects. Journal of applied microbiology. PMID: 21447019
Want to manage your toilet metrics? There's an app for that. Actually, multiple apps - like this one recording precise GPS location of bowel events along with their shapes and odors or IBS symptom tracker and GI monitor, approved and designed by gastroenterologists. Yet, the lists of metrics provided by these applications are not complete - no options to record color, consistency, texture, effort... And what about total time spent? According to IBS forums, it could range from seconds to ... "long enough to play a full game of Scrabble". An Israeli scientist (Sikirov, 2003) found that times "needed for sensation of satisfactory emptying" range from 50 to 130 seconds for healthy volunteers. He plotted time and effort vs the height of toilet (41cm or 16-inch-high, 31cm or 12-inch-high toilet, and a plastic container) and found notable correlations - the shorter the better. US team (Rao et al, 2006) evaluated internal pressures of subjects with a water-filled balloon or silicone-stool in their rectum, rating their stooling sensation. As one could guess, silicone was more pleasurable and sitting was better than lying flat. Japanese scientists (Sakakibara et al, 2010) measured hip flexon vs angularity of the rectoanal canal and recorded abdominal pressure. Their conclusion was that squatting helps. This is in line with observations by IBS sufferers: like this one about getting down on hands and knees and rubbing the floor with head before going to bathroom. or keeping knees elevated by placing feet on a footstool. Daniel Lametti who wrote this well-researched article for Slate (Not a bunch of Internet quackery!) conducted his own squatting experiment - each morning for a week, following a bowl of corn flakes and a cup of coffee . As his 10-minute routine dropped to a minute, he was able to free an hour per week for more productive work.The moral of the story is that we need not only switch to stand-up desks for work, but also to better-designed toilets - like this one from Japan, adjustable to several different squatting and sitting postures. Perhaps one day such toilets will make a splash in other parts of the world.ReferencesSikirov D (2003). Comparison of straining during defecation in three positions: results and implications for human health. Digestive diseases and sciences, 48 (7), 1201-5 PMID: 12870773Rao SS, Kavlock R, & Rao S (2006). Influence of body position and stool characteristics on defecation in humans. The American journal of gastroenterology, 101 (12), 2790-6 PMID: 17026568Ryuji Sakakibara, Kuniko Tsunoyama, Hiroyasu Hosol, Osamu Takahashi, Megumi Sugiyama, Masahiko Kishi, Emina Ogawa, Hitoshi Terada, Tomoyuki Uchiyama, & Tomonori Yamanishi (2010). Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans. LUTS: Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, 2 (1), 16-21... Read more »
Sikirov D. (2003) Comparison of straining during defecation in three positions: results and implications for human health. Digestive diseases and sciences, 48(7), 1201-5. PMID: 12870773
Rao SS, Kavlock R, & Rao S. (2006) Influence of body position and stool characteristics on defecation in humans. The American journal of gastroenterology, 101(12), 2790-6. PMID: 17026568
Ryuji SAKAKIBARA, Kuniko TSUNOYAMA, Hiroyasu HOSOI, Osamu TAKAHASHI, Megumi SUGIYAMA, Masahiko KISHI, Emina OGAWA, Hitoshi TERADA, Tomoyuki UCHIYAMA, & Tomonori YAMANISHI. (2010) Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans. . LUTS: Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, 2(1), 16-21. DOI: 10.1111/j.1757-5672.2009.00057.x
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