Are you one of the 13 million adults in the U.S. who suffers from IBS-C? Internist and author Dr. Steven Lamm joined me recently to discuss why the GI system causes distress and how sufferers can finally find relief!
Candace Rose: Why does the GI system cause distress and who typically experiences these symptoms?
Dr. Steven Lamm: “The GI system or commonly called ‘the gut’ is a beautiful orchestration of hollow organs, solid organs and they’re filled with a myriad of nerves and their receptors for hormones and a whole bunch of other active molecules.
And as a result of the foods that we ingest, the stress in our lives, the genetics that some of us are at an increased risk for. About 50 million people suffer from a common condition called IBS with constipation. Their lives are really affected- the quality of their lives. They fortunately don’t get cancer from this, but every day is a challenge for them. They’re afraid to go to work, they’re afraid to leave their home in the morning, afraid to have lunch, embarrassed if they go to your home for dinner, they go to a restaurant and they’re afraid they are going to have to go to the bathroom. It’s really not a pleasant state and these people have been embarrassed before when they may or may not have sought out medical treatment years ago and told that it’s all in their head.
I think there’s a whole new awareness and new knowledge based on the physiology of how the intestines work. The FDA for example just approved a new drug called Linzess for those 18 and older who have the constipation from irritable bowel or chronic idiopathic constipation. If you change your lifestyle and if you change what and how you eat, if you add some sleep to your lifestyle changes you can get some relief.”
Candace Rose: What foods or treatment options should sufferers be aware of that could further aggravate them?
Dr. Steven Lamm: “It’s very individualized and any one individual may find that caffeine or alcohol or spicy foods or dairy products or gluten or fructose- whatever may actually be the main culprit although it’s generally a combination of different foods along with some internal stressors that are activating the intestines. It’s really a combination of foods and lifestyle changes.”
Candace Rose: Are there any dietary or lifestyle changes that they should make in order to feel better?
Dr. Steven Lamm: “I think for the most part, if you can gradually increase the fiber in your diet, but you have to be careful because some of this fiber gets acted on by the colon bacteria so you get more gas and bloating. You’re walking a fine line- a little bit more fiber, a little less dairy for certain, probably a little less fructose which is found in a lot of foods and that along with some exercise, sleep, meditation and believe it or not can make a big difference. And for those who still need more, go to the doctor, there’s a new pharmaceutical out there for you.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Dr. Steven Lamm: “Here’s a website that you can find helpful, it’s IFFGD.org. There’s a lot of valuable information for IBS sufferers.”