IBS Fasting: Does It Work

IBS is a common digestive disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. IBS affects many different parts of the body including gastrointestinal (GI) tract, pancreas, liver, kidneys and brain. There are various causes of IBS such as bacterial overgrowth in the GI tract or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is caused by bacteria that normally live in your gut but can become resistant to antibiotics. These bacteria cause inflammation which damages the lining of the intestines causing symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping and bloating.

There are several treatments available for IBS. Some of these include dietary changes, medications and surgery. Dietary changes may include eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates (like white flour), drinking more water and reducing stress on your body.

Medications include anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants and antispasmodics. Surgery includes laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and gastroplasty.

Fasting is one treatment option for IBS. Fasting involves abstaining from consuming any foods or liquids for a period of time before eating again. There are two main types of fasting therapies: intermittent fasting and periodic fasting.

Intermittent fasting involves restricting the amount of calories you take in on a daily basis (i.e. 500-600 calories daily) while periodic fasting involves drastically reducing the number of calories you consume on a daily basis (i.e. eating less than 500 calories per day).

Intermittent fasting is most commonly used to manage type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been used to help with weight loss. Intermittent fasting developed from studies on rats and mice and later on humans, where it was found to have positive effects in the treatment of various health conditions.

Periodic fasting is used to manage obesity and to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Sources & references used in this article:

Fasting and postprandial volumes of the undisturbed colon: normal values and changes in diarrhea‐predominant irritable bowel syndrome measured using serial MRI by SE Pritchard, L Marciani, KC Garsed… – …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library

Pharmacogenetic trial of a cannabinoid agonist shows reduced fasting colonic motility in patients with nonconstipated irritable bowel syndrome by BS Wong, M Camilleri, I Busciglio, P Carlson… – Gastroenterology, 2011 – Elsevier

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome exhale more hydrogen than healthy subjects in fasting state by S Kumar, A Misra, UC Ghoshal – Journal of neurogastroenterology …, 2010 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Effect of a tricyclic antidepressant on small intestinal motility in health and diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome by DA Gorard, GW Libby, MJG Farthing – Digestive diseases and sciences, 1995 – Springer

Does meal ingestion enhance sensitivity of visceroperception assessment in irritable bowel syndrome? by S Ludidi, JM Conchillo, D Keszthelyi… – …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library

Ambulatory small intestinal motility in’diarrhoea’predominant irritable bowel syndrome. by DA Gorard, GW Libby, MJ Farthing – Gut, 1994 – gut.bmj.com