A lot of people get confused between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Simply (and bluntly) put, IBS isn’t really a disease. But IBD is.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the millions of people who suffer from IBS are just imagining it. Their uncomfortable and even painful symptoms—like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gassiness—are very real. But these symptoms are often the result of a root cause like food allergies or intolerances, medications, or a gut bacteria imbalance. Or they may be the result of IBD.
Basically, IBD involves actual structural damage to the gastrointestinal tract. And that can lead to serious illnesses like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis causes nasty sores in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. And Crohn’s disease can create inflammation deep in the tissues of both your large and small intestine.
Both of these conditions can cause the symptoms commonly associated with IBS. But there can also be deadlier symptoms, including bowel obstruction, severe bleeding, increased risk of colon cancer, and life-threatening malnutrition.
No one really knows what causes IBD, but experts suspect it may be the result of problems with the immune system. That’s why it’s lumped with other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis when it comes to treatment options.
But a new study has found another potential cause. And it’s something I’ve been warning you about for years.
I’ll tell you how you can overcome IBD, safely and naturally, in just a minute.
First, though, let’s take a look at the hidden culprit behind this agonizing condition.
The most dangerous type of fat
I’ve mentioned before how belly fat is a risk factor for many deadly diseases.
The technical term for belly fat is intra-abdominal fat or visceral fat. But no matter what you call it, it’s bad news. In fact, it’s the worst kind of fat you can have.
Basically, belly fat winds itself around abdominal organs like your liver and intestines. And this visceral fat is much more dangerous than the fat you can pinch on your waistline. Belly fat can raise the level of inflammation in your body—which, as you know, is a risk factor in many diseases. And it releases other substances that can raise your blood pressure and boost your insulin resistance.
So it’s no surprise that belly fat has been linked in studies to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.
And now, a new study links it to IBD.1
Researchers took cells from healthy people and people with IBD. Because healthy people generally don’t have belly fat cells, the researchers looked at precursors to belly fat cells. And they found that these cells in healthy people act differently than they do in people with IBD.
Basically, belly fat cells actually increase inflammation in people with IBD—but not in healthy people. Meaning that belly fat may have an active role in the development of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
This is an amazing finding. Before, the thought was that belly fat was an innocent bystander when it comes to the health of your digestive tract.
But when you think about it, that doesn’t make sense. We know belly fat increases inflammation throughout your body, so why wouldn’t it do the same thing in your intestines? After all, it’s called inflammatory bowel disease for a reason.
Five simple steps to reduce the inflammation caused by belly fat
So, to lower your risk of IBD and other diseases, you need to get rid of belly fat. But let’s face it—this fat is stubborn, and losing it is hard. Especially for women, who can develop belly fat simply due to the drop in estrogen caused by menopause.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t lose belly fat. In fact, there are several proven ways to do it.
- Start with an anti-inflammatory eating plan like my New Hamptons Health Miracle. It will help you lose fat, including belly fat.
- If you haven’t already, switch to macadamia nut oil. I’ve written before about how the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in macadamia nut oil can reduce belly fat by as much as 20 percent. Olive oil also has MUFAs, but macadamia nut oil has 10 percent more.
- Many studies show that people with IBD have low levels of vitamin D. That may be because D reduces levels of a protein called TNF that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. One IBD drug is even designed to target TNF, so imagine if the same thing could be accomplished more safely—and less expensively—simply by taking vitamin D.
Recent research appears to bear that out. A study of 18 people with Crohn’s disease found that after taking vitamin D for 24 weeks, a whopping 67 percent of the participants went into remission from their disease.2 Just from taking vitamin D. The participants started out with 1,000 IU of D a day and worked their way up to 5,000 IU. But I regularly recommend taking up to 10,000 IU daily.
- One study showed that even if exercise doesn’t result in lost pounds, it can still reduce belly fat.3 And it can be either aerobic exercise or strength training, as long as it’s moderate intensity and done for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week.
So take a brisk walk or a leisurely bike ride. Lift weights or do a round of push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. But don’t expect sit-ups to solve the problem. Although they can tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your core strong, they don’t really target belly fat.
- In the December 2015 Logical Health Alternatives, I wrote that sleep has a major influence on belly fat. Aim for six to eight hours of shuteye a night. Any less—or any more—can increase your belly fat by as much as 20 percent over five years.
And finally …
Research shows this natural solution may be the go-to IBD treatment of the future
In a January Reality Health Check, I wrote about a study that looked at a specific type of fiber called inulin-propionate ester (IPE).
IPE is a prebiotic—which is basically a food for probiotics. And research shows people who consume IPE lose more belly fat than people who take inulin (another kind of fiber).
IPE isn’t widely available in supplement form yet, but you can get prebiotics from other sources.
In fact, a good probiotic product (like Dr. Ohirra’s) will contain prebiotics. And if you’re suffering from IBD, you should definitely be taking a good probiotic.
A new study found that probiotics can lessen the fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal that can so often accompany inflammatory diseases like IBD.4
The researchers gave probiotics to mice with liver inflammation. While the probiotics didn’t reduce the severity of the inflammation, they did make the mice much more likely to engage in social behaviors.
The researchers think this is because probiotics can actually change the way the immune system communicates with the brain. And here’s the really exciting part—that may not only improve behavior in people with inflammation and immune-related diseases, but it may also help regulate immunity itself.
In other words, probiotics may very well be the go-to IBD treatment of the future.
Of course, more research needs to be done, but in the meantime, a daily dose of a high-quality probiotic can at least help lessen some of the symptoms of IBD.
1“Substance P Mediates Proinflammatory Cytokine Release From Mesenteric Adipocytes in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients.” Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Jul 1;1(4):420-432.
2“Therapeutic effect of vitamin D supplementation in a pilot study of Crohn’s patients.” Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology 2013;4:1-8.
3“Exercise induced reduction in obesity and insulin resistance in women: a randomized controlled trial.” Obesity Research 12:789-798, 2004.
4“Probiotics Improve Inflammation-Associated Sickness Behavior by Altering Communication between the Peripheral Immune System and the Brain.” The Journal of Neuroscience, 29 July 2015, 35(30): 10821-10830.