Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) & Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Gut Health

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) & Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

by | Mar 5, 2021 | Gut Health

Understanding Irritable Bowel Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease!

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).   Symptoms for both are chronic but IBD, as the name alludes to is an inflammatory condition with  structural changes as opposed to IBS which is a functional disorder.

What is IBD, Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis?

So there are two main forms of IBD,  Ulcerative Colitis or Crohns disease, both are Autoimmune Conditions (the immune system attacking itself) causing chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestines where tiny sores (ulcers) are found on the surface layers of the bowel lining and Crohns’ disease occurs anywhere from the mouth to anus creating ulcers in the gut lining extending to the entire thickness of the bowel wall!

How does IBS affect the body?

IBS and IBD can be experienced at the same time, so it can be hard to determine early onset of IBD from IBS. IBS will not present any structural issues when checked via a colonoscopy. But before you might get to that point then there are some tests that can allude to one or the other. IBS is characterised by alternating bowel movements (moving between constipation and diarrhoea or loose stools). The big challenge with IBS is the causes are not well understood, although in saying that many people with IBS have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), where the gut bacteria have moved from the large intestine into the small causing much discomfort, this is one of the main causes. Here is this contact form for the ones that want to get some relief from pain.

Check our blogs on food intolerance’s/allergies too 😊

Similarities between IBD and IBS?

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Alternating bowel movements – Diarrhoea/Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Inflammation of digestive tract
  • Flatulence
  • Infection

Main Differences between IBD and IBS

IBD is a chronic Autoimmune disease, ranging from mild to severe, with times of flares up when the immune system is not functionally at its optimal. During IBD flare ups severe symptoms affect everyday life so main aim is to reduce the severity and rate of the episodes or flares so you can stay in a remission state. IBS can also be aggravated by stress, alteration of beneficial flora within the intestines and a recent GI tract infection, food intolerance or hormonal imbalances, identifying the main trigger of these symptoms by the process of elimination and challenge is one way to prevent flare ups. 


IBD Symptoms IBS Symptoms
Abdominal Pain and Cramping Alternating diarrhea and Constipation Malnutrition Eye Inflammation Intestinal Scaring Rectal Bleeding Chronic Fatigue Fever Blood in stool Lack of Appetite Weight loss Abdominal Pain and Cramping Bloating Flatulence Mucus in Stool Diarrhea and Constipation Food Intolerance’s Allergies Reoccurring Infection in the GI tract

Symptoms Include:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Alternating diarrhoea and constipation
  • Malnutrition
  • Eye inflammation
  • Intestinal scaring
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Blood in stool
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss


Possible causes or pre-dispositions of IBD?

Immune System Dysregulation – Starting with the gut microbiome! Balance between good and bad flora is key (please note you can be born with a microbiome that is already on the back foot!). Anything out of whack means our immunity will be compromised creating inflammation and other immune responses. Gut infections have been shown to initiate both the onset and flare up of IBD according to new research!

Genetic predisposition – Any family member with the disease puts you at risk of developing IBD!

Dietary factors – We know by now the connection our gut health plays in our overall health! Eating a well-balanced whole foods diet is key, avoiding processed foods, additives, refined foods and limiting dairy intake if lactose intolerant is a must, studies have proven a link between cows milk and IBD! 

Stress Influences – Stress effects the gut, in fact so much so that it can increase and decrease transit time and be a contributing factor to exacerbation of the disease through the brain-gut axis and intestinal immune response. 

Movement – Exercise promotes a healthy GIT tract by reducing inflammation, improving bone and muscle strength.  

What can I do to help my IBD?

IBD can be seriously affect your everyday life and be quite painful and because there is no known cure for it, aside from pharmaceutical relief, its important to know how to get relief using a holistic approach.

  • Probiotics/prebiotic foods
  • Plenty of anti-inflammatory foods (Omega 3s, Turmeric, leafy greens)
  • Glutamine
  • Slippery elm
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Avoid excess fibre (in fact cooked food may be needed till the gut is in a better state)
  • Relaxation techniques (keep stress in check)



References Warner, A. S., & Barto, A. E. (2010). 100 questions & answers about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: a Lahey Clinic guide (2nd ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Do You Have Gut Health Issues?

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  • Do you have an autoimmune condition?
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