Can a Gluten Free Diet Improve IBS Symptoms

Can a Gluten Free Diet Improve IBS Symptoms

Many people have undiagnosed celiac disease in the United States. Some of these people may also have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Although a diet rich in fiber is often suggested for people with IBS, people with celiac disease may actually see an increase in symptoms if they are eating foods that contain gluten and may continue to suffer from multiple unpleasant intestinal symptoms. Switching to a gluten-free diet and selecting fiber-rich foods and other products without gluten may help improve IBS symptoms and quality of life in these people.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearninghouse (NDDIC) September 2007 article entitled “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” irritable bowel syndrome affects as many as 20% of adults in the United States. According to the above article, it has been called several different names throughout the years, such as:

  • colitis
  • mucous colitis
  • spastic colon
  • spastic bowel

This disorder may be characterized by symptoms such as:

  • pain that may be relieved by having a bowel movement
  • constipation or diarrhea or alternating episodes of each
  • straining and/or cramping with bowel movements
  • sudden urges to use the bathroom that may be uncontrollable
  • stools with mucous or water
  • bloating

Other gastrointestinal symptoms may also be present. Symptoms may get better and worse again or may become progressively more severe. Several different possible causes of IBS symptoms have been identified, one of which is celiac disease. These GI symptoms can result in limited social activities and isolation in those who experience symptoms frequently.

Celiac Disease Affects the Small Intestine

According to the NDDIC September 2008 article entitled “Celiac Disease,” celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, affects approximately one out of 133 people in the United States, which translates to over two million people. When a person with celiac disease ingests anything with proteins from wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats, damage to the small intestine occurs. This damage to the intestines can cause a person to suffer from malnourishment because the intestines cannot absorb nutrients properly and can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including those of IBS.

Gluten Free Diet for IBS

People with IBS are often encouraged to try several lifestyle changes in the hopes that these may improve symptoms, including:

  • keeping a journal to help determine if symptoms occur in a pattern associated with certain foods, etc.
  • trying a diet high in fiber
  • drinking an adequate amount of plain water
  • maintaining a healthy low-fat diet with plenty of carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits and vegetables
  • avoiding rapid eating
  • trying smaller and more frequent meals
  • avoiding trigger foods such as carbonated beverages and bubble gum

The only treatment at this time for celiac disease is a diet completely free of gluten, which is found in many foods, drinks, medications, and other products. Very small amounts of gluten can continue to cause intestinal damage, resulting in symptoms in people with celiac disease. People with IBS associated with celiac disease may experience an increase in symptoms if they begin to increase fiber and carbohydrates with products that contain gluten.

Many organic stores, specialty stores, and some mainstream grocers now sell products that are specifically gluten free. Some manufacturers label their products as gluten-free so that consumers with celiac disease can shop for groceries with more confidence and save time. If a product is not specifically labeled as gluten-free, the safest approach would be to research it by looking at the manufacturer’s web site or contacting the manufacturer directly.

Gluten Free Diet May Help Some People with IBS

Although IBS symptoms may have many causes, people with celiac disease may notice a positive change in intestinal and other symptoms if they adopt a completely gluten-free diet. This change in symptoms may take a few weeks or may be quite rapid. Although many products contain gluten, more manufacturers are beginning to carry and label gluten-free products, which make shopping much easier today.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. People should speak with their healthcare provider before changing the diet or if experiencing IBS symptoms. The writer or publisher of this article holds strictly no liability for any kind of mishappening. We have gathered information from various sources and we are not an expert in the stream.