Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Are you looking for a way to try improve the condition? On this episode of the LCHF Podcast, Dr Gary Fettke gives you the lowdown on what the research is starting to show. Are sugar and carbohydrates a contributing factor to IBS? Hear more…
Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of the LCHF podcast and we head to Tasmania in Australia once again and we’re joined by Dr Gary Fettke. Doc, great question in today and it’s one that funnily enough we’ve had quite a few times over the last few weeks and it’s got to do with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. People are basically asking, is this diet compatible if you suffer from IBS, will it help or would it make the problem worse?
Can fructose intolerance cause IBS?
Gary Fettke: Irritable Bowel Syndrome has had a lot of air play, as you say. My understanding and speaking to gastroenterologists is that at least 50% of IBS is a fructose intolerance and going low carb generally means a significant reduction in the amount of sugar into your diet.
Those who have listened to me speak about the role of inflammation will know that in fact a high amount of carbohydrates, particularly if your obese and insulin resistant has actually turned into fructose as well. So if you can reduce the fructose load, then it should have a significant benefit on the bowel.
One of the things that happens with the sugars and particularly fructose is as it enters the lower intestine, the more that you’ve actually got in there, the more that it means that there’s sugars available to ferment in the bowel.
The more fermenting that’s actually going on down there, it tends to be taken up by the bugs and the bacteria that are probably not as conducive to good health. We think that this is a major change over of the last 20-30 years.
How current gut biotome research will help you
There’s a lot of work currently being done on the gut biotome, the whole consideration of the gut and all of the bacterial flora run right down the length of it. So what’s happened in the last 30/40 years is we’ve actually changed the sugar load, changed the carbohydrate load and as a result of that we’re seeing a lot more Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
One of the simplest things people can do is to actually, on doing low carb is to in fact start cutting down those sugars and the refined carbohydrates and see what happens. When I chat to people about it, most people get an improvement in their bowel function within round about 4-6 weeks and as it’s really got no cost. If you’ve got IBS, I actually see going LCHF has a major potential benefit.
The other thing which I’ve been doing some reading on at the moment is the role of fat in the gut and there’s quite good work that’s being done looking at the role of the vagus nerve. For those listeners who don’t have an understanding of that, the vagus nerve travels down the brain and actually controls a lot of secretory functions; what we call motility within the gut and it seems to be under the direct effect of saturated fat.
So in fact if you have a low fat diet, the vagus nerve doesn’t work particularly well and it may be associated with IBS. So IBS is not just simply a problem with sugars, it’s not just a problem with abnormal flora, it’s not just a problem of antibiotics, it’s probably a combination of all of those. The interesting thing, as I say I’ve been reading, is the role of saturated fat.
Saturated fat appears to have a good influence on the gut
So LCHF, low carb healthy fat is definitely about reducing the amount of fructose load to the gut, that’s definitely a good thing. The secondary benefit of increasing the healthy fat looks to be having a good stimulatory effect on the vagus nerve. I think we’ll find out a lot more about that in the next couple of years. So yes to giving it a go if you’ve got Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
BB: I love it, Dr Gary Fettke, thank you very much for that and if you do suffer from IBS, I hope that helps. Some interesting reading as well, so thank you very much. We’re back again in just a couple of days time. We look forward to chatting then here on the LCHF podcast. Until next time, from myself, Brad Brown and Dr Gary Fettke, it’s cheers.
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