Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gut Dysbiosis Effects on the Gut Microbiome

Heather Campbell
 min read

Irritable bowel syndrome and gut dysbiosis effects on the gut microbiome are more common than you may think.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Gut Dysbiosis Effects on the Gut MicrobiomeDiarrhea, bloating, stomach aches, and constipation are symptoms suffered by people with irritable bowel syndrome.

As a whole, people with severe forms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may self-impose specific dietary restrictions, including the consumption of high-fiber foods, which could result in intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance in our intestinal flora.

Whether it’s irritable bowel syndrome or gut dysbiosis, they are both disorders that will impact our gut microbiota.

Irritable bowel syndrome and gut dysbiosis effects on the gut microbiome: Introduction

The term irritable bowel syndrome is often used to refer to a digestive disorder, as it includes the small intestine and colon. Irritable bowel syndrome affects women more than men.

Gut dysbiosis is an imbalance of our intestinal flora.

This article will discuss these two disorders that affect our gut microbiota and that can be debilitating .

What is “irritable bowel”?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or Irritable Bowel Disorder, is quite common in Western countries.

A benign and sometimes disabling disease

It is interesting to note that irritable bowel syndrome affects women more than men. In addition, symptoms are often exacerbated during menstruation.

Irritable bowel syndrome, doctors refer to this intestinal dysfunction as the following symptoms:

  • Spasm-like abdominal pain
  • The emission of gas or stool
  • Disorders of intestinal transit
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation or alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Intestinal bloating
  • And loud gurgling sounds.

These disorders are chronic but last for years, alternating between remission phases and periods of aggravation.

According to studies conducted on an endoscopic exploration of the colon, small intestine, or stomach, these investigations have revealed no abnormalities in the digestive tract.

Irritable bowel syndrome has no complications, but it can sometimes ruin the quality of life of sufferers and sometimes even those around them.

Hypersensitivity of the intestine to distension partly explains the symptoms.

People with irritable bowel syndrome often report numerous food intolerances that lead to multiple restrictions without any lasting improvement in bowel problems.

On the contrary, the restriction of high-fiber foods likely causes dysbiosis that can worsen the symptoms.

The exact causes of irritable bowel syndrome

The exact causes of this disorder are not really known. However, we can explore the following two possible causes:

An infectious origin

One out of 10 people who are ill report an intestinal infection at the onset of the disorder.

Indeed, in one-third of cases of severe intestinal infections related to aggressive bacteria (such as Escherichia coli or Campylobacter jejuni), symptoms suggestive of irritable bowel syndrome are still present two years after the infectious episode.

These disorders are related to intestinal permeability abnormalities induced by severe dysbiosis sequelae of intestinal infection.

After broad-spectrum antibiotic treatments, studies have also reported that the effects on the gut microbiota are not far removed from those of severe intestinal infections.

Stress plays an important role

Stress and the digestive tract can have a close relationship. Indeed, stress modifies digestive function, intestinal immunity and permeability, and even the microbiota composition.

Conversely, through its secretions, the intestinal microbiota can intervene in our emotions and stress levels.

Many sufferers point to the role of stress in aggravating the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Research has also shown that people with bowel problems were two to three times more likely to have been sexually, physically, or psychologically abused as children.

The digestive disorders associated with depressive and addictive tendencies may also be induced by experimental neonatal separation stress.

Violent stress during childhood could amplify stress reactions in adults and promote the development of irritable bowel syndrome.

Gut microbiota and irritable bowel syndrome

The infectious origin and the impact of stress on irritable bowel syndrome may suggest the participation of dysbiosis in the risk or severity of symptoms.

Dysbiosis and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Research on the gut microbiota in people with irritable bowel syndrome has not found any specific markers.

In fact, people with severe symptoms more often show signs of depression and are more anxious than people with mild irritable bowel.

A decrease in the intestinal microbiota diversity has also been observed in people with this problem.

These dysbioses could play a role in the onset of symptoms.

However, it is also possible that they result from many self-imposed dietary restrictions, including the consumption of high-fiber foods, by people with severe forms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Irritable bowel syndrome treatments targeting the microbiota

Here is a list of treatments that would help treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:

Treatment with food

People with this disorder tend to exclude many foods from their diet.

These exclusions temporarily improve the symptoms and are potentially harmful since they often target fiber-rich foods that are essential for good health.

Certain carbohydrates have also been blamed for worsening symptoms. For example, these carbohydrates fermented by intestinal bacteria would increase the production of gas and volatile fatty acids, which are sources of digestive discomfort.

In the industrial kitchen, these carbohydrates are omnipresent and grouped under the acronym FODMAPs: Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols.

These carbohydrates are also the subject of diets designed to reduce the intake of cereals, vegetables, dairy products, and fruits rich in carbohydrates belonging to the FODMAPs, in favor of foods of the same class containing lesser amounts.

These complex diets are reserved for forms of irritable bowel syndrome that are resistant to medical treatment. They must be prescribed by physicians and monitored by health professionals specialized in nutrition.

Treatment with probiotics

Studies have confirmed the effectiveness of probiotics in reducing pain and, more globally, in reducing the severity of symptoms.

The probiotics studied were mainly Lactobacillus species (including Lactobacillus reuteri in children) and Bifidobacteria.

Related post: Are Probiotics and Prebiotics Good for Weight Loss and Treating Obesity?

Treatment with antibiotics

Rifaximin is an oral antibiotic that is not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Indeed, its action would be strictly local.

Research has shown its effectiveness in patients with irritable bowel syndrome without constipation.

In these patients, rifaximin reduced bloating and abdominal pain and reduced the number of loose stools.

This improvement in symptoms would be associated with restoring the richness of the microbiota.

Treatment by fecal transplantation

Several research studies on fecal transplantation in the treatment of irritable bowel have shown a decrease in the intensity of symptoms in more than two-thirds of cases.

However, these results are still below the experimental stage and should be taken with caution.

Indeed, future trials should also consider the complexity of irritable bowel syndrome in the indications for fecal transplantation, both in terms of symptoms and possible causes, as well as dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota.

Irritable bowel syndrome and gut dysbiosis effects on the gut microbiome: Conclusion

Irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal dysbiosis are both disorders related to our digestive system.

People with these diseases can experience hell in their daily lives. However, several treatments can now relieve bothersome symptoms such as bloating or diarrhea.

Therefore, it is essential to take care of our intestinal microbiota to avoid these disorders.

Indeed, abnormalities of the intestinal flora cause the production of digestive gases, disturb digestion, and increase the permeability of the intestinal wall, favoring inflammatory reactions.

Having a better lifestyle and a healthy and balanced diet would allow you to keep your body in good health!

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About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More