IBS, Dietary Supplements, Comorbidities, and What I Eat

Last updated: February 2022

Since there has been a lot of talk about diet and what kind is most beneficial for those with IBS, I thought I would put in my 2 cents again. In part 1 of this series, I will discuss how some factors might complicate how my body handles food and the effect of taking some dietary supplements. In part 2, I will share what I eat in detail and what has led me to my choices. So first, I will discuss the various factors that affect my overall health.

My comorbidities

I will assume that many of you have comorbidities as I do. I do live with IBS-M (irritable bowel syndrome with both diarrhea and constipation). But I also have MS (multiple sclerosis), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and a host of other conditions, some of which are described as "idiopathic," meaning the cause is unknown. All of this brings challenges, the largest of which is how my digestive system struggles to absorb even the most nutritionally dense foods. I have been trying popular supplements to help the process.

My experience with supplements

My choices are not based on the recommendations of "experts" such as Dr. Oz, whose infomercials tout superfood supplements. I successfully avoided the acai berry craze, for example. But my medical team has urged me to keep trying probiotics, as there is solid science behind maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora to manage autoimmune diseases such as MS and this weird-a$$ condition called IBS.

It looks good on paper, but all the strains of good bacteria I've tried have done nothing to return my digestion to some version of normal. Only a yeast probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii stops my chronic diarrhea for only a day or 2.

My new PCP wanted me to try Align, which contains Bifidobacterium longum, a good bacterial strain recommended specifically for digestive issues like IBS, plus Citrucel for fiber. I have tried fiber supplements in capsule and powder form and toyed with high-fiber vegetables for years, and they have either done nothing or caused more problems. But I showed good faith and tried Align and Citrucel just in case they helped. Alas, three weeks in, they too have no effect.

In November, I began finishing up Citrucel and Align and did not plan to replace them with other probiotics and fiber supplements. I aimed to continue treating diarrhea symptoms with Saccharomyces boulardii or loperamide.

If my experience with supplements was of some value to you, hit a familiar chord, or has raised some questions for you, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I would love to know what you have tried and whether it has helped you!

In part 2 of this series on IBS, diet, supplements, and what I eat, I will focus solely on what I eat in detail, along with how I prepare them and why I choose them. I hope you will look, compare and contrast my diet with your own, and share, share, share with this community!

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