Do you suffer from Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? IBS in women and men is so common that it affects 1 out of 10 people in the United States each year. Symptoms of IBS can range from mild to severe and include things like cramping, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. One wrong move, and you may find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation. But IBS symptoms can also affect your weight.
Do You Think IBS May Be Causing You to Gain Weight?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome itself cannot cause you to gain weight, but its symptoms and the habits it promotes can.
Five main factors contribute to any habits you might have developed that result in gaining weight or making it more challenging to lose excess weight.
1. Food choices
If you struggle with IBS, then you’ve probably already started the “what can I eat that won’t make me X game.” Many people who have IBS limit themselves to eating “safe foods” that may not exacerbate symptoms, but these foods may also not be very healthy. For example, go-to gluten-free foods are often packed with sugar and unhealthy fats.
2. Disruptive symptoms can stall out attempts to exercise
Look, we know that IBS symptoms can be embarrassing and seem like they always show up at the most inopportune times. For many people, these times can include exercising. For example, running can trigger diarrhea. Fortunately, there are ways that you can build muscle and lean body mass and burn calories without triggering any IBS symptoms.
3. Depression or anxiety
If you’re feeling stressed or upset, you may find yourself doing what’s called emotional eating and falling behind on self-care. Poor diet, dehydration, and lack of exercise can worsen constipation, lead to weight gain, slow down your metabolism, and produce excess body fat.
Two types of bloat can happen with IBS. Bloat #1 occurs above the belly button. Bloat #2 occurs below the belly button.
Bloating above the belly button (upper gastrointestinal bloat) usually happens soon after a meal. It may go away within two to three hours of eating. This type of bloat can cause a burning sensation in your gut and discomfort and cramps in your stomach area, causing you to resort to eating cold foods like ice cream, smoothies, and iced coffee drinks to temporarily relief their symptoms and lead to weight gain.
Recent studies have shown that certain hormones in the digestive tract regulate weight. These hormone levels seem to be abnormal in people with IBS and may lead to weight gain.
We’ll discuss how you can help yourself in a moment, but first let’s look at possible weight loss with IBS symptoms.
IBS and Weight Loss
As with weight gain, weight loss is not a symptom of IBS itself. Unexplained weight loss is no laughing matter and must be brought to the attention of your healthcare provider. Being underweight and/or malnourished is a red flag for more serious digestive illness, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
However, if you have IBS, your weight loss could be explained by your food choices and eating habits. Your weight loss could be the result of trying to cope with IBS symptoms by restricting your diet. Restricting your diet is not a good way to go because it can result in malnutrition.
If you need to gain the weight back
- don’t skip meals
- eat an extra meal each day
- eat more seeds, nuts, nut butter, trail mix, avocados, fruits, green smoothies, and healthy oils
In general, there are several ways you can start to heal your gut after unwanted weight loss.
If you’re looking for an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Cure, however, there isn’t one! Yet.
The good news is that lifestyle and diet changes can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Sometimes, even eliminate them!
You Don’t Have to Do This Alone!
Although there are not yet any specific IBS tests, a doctor can provide you with a diagnosis by looking at your symptoms, medical/family history, and ruling out other conditions like Crohn’s disease.
At Nava Health, we have Functional Nutritionists who can help guide you in your food choices and devise an IBS treatment plan for you that includes symptom reduction. This will lead to you regaining the ideal weight for you that you had before.
What is a Functional Nutritionist?
Functional Nutritionists hold graduate degrees in functional nutrition and are proficient in science-based advanced medical nutrition therapy, biochemistry, counseling, education, and research.
The functional nutrition approach uses food as natural medicine to
- help restore balance to your body,
- correct nutrient deficiencies,
- heal the gut, and much more.
Not only that but functional nutrition considers every aspect of human health, diet, and overall lifestyle and provides individualized nutrition recommendations. There are no generic meal plans; everything is catered to you.
For this reason, functional nutrition can do wonders for treating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
How a Functional Nutritionist Can Help You with IBS Symptoms Causing Weight Loss or Gain
To create a program customized to your needs, your NAVA team follows a sequence of steps that starts with an in depth evaluation of your previous medical history. Then they will review your organ systems, medication and supplements, current diet, and current lifestyle habits.
Even though IBS cannot be diagnosed using a test, your NAVA team will administer tests to weed out any other underlying issues that could be causing the symptoms as well as get an understanding of what’s going on in the rest of your body.
They will review these lab results as well as your goals and then work side by side with you to develop a customized program that targets the root cause of your IBS symptoms and anything else that may have come up in your whole health exploration.
IBS symptoms can ruin your life. Many of our clients have come to us because the cookie cutter “cures” have not worked – or made things worse. We’re here to provide you with sustainable personalized nutrition and lifestyle plans to make your life better.
We know that if the plan isn’t manageable or sustainable, you’ll end up back at square one. Contact us today and sort out your worries about IBS symptoms and weight loss/gain.