First I want to say im no doctor, and try to stay away from the medical establishment as much as I can and use home remedies, but still always discuss with your doctor if you choose before making a major change in your life.
I have some great news for all of you IBS sufferers. I have beat my own IBS symptoms and in the process learned what was causing them and the solution. Some quick background, I have had IBS for the past 2 years, mostly diarrhea and terrible gas pangs in the bowels and stomach. I never took any medications (and don't ever want to) for it and concentrated on eating smaller meals and drinking plenty of water which helps some but doesn't solve the problem. I started taking some natural 5-htp because I read it helped some people, and it certainly helped for about a couple months in reducing pangs but seemed to be less effective as time went on and it was messing with my sleep.
6 months ago I got very sick and thought it was salmonella poisoning (but wasn't). I lost about 20lbs in 2 weeks and had to fast for 3 days straight. After fasting I was on a diet of apples to get my stomach back in order. After a couple days of eating nothing but apples I didn't realize at the time but I had a diabetic ketoacidosis attack. If you don't know what that is like, I couldnt keep my temperature up and had the house very very warm, I had extreme anxiety and panic feeling, extreme hyperventilation, vomiting, and feeling very dehydrated. My brother was going to take me to the hospital but the symptoms subsided after I drank about a whole quart of milk, thinking at the time my problem was lack of food/protein maybe low blood sugar since i fasted for so long. After my brother left though the symptoms came back worse. My stomach hurt so bad I decided to drink a glass of ice water to numb it and was ready to call for help. But after drinking about another quart of icewater the symptoms subsided and I actually began feeling much better, so I kept drinking the ice water. I didn't know at the time, but the water was needed to flush out the extra blood sugar by way of ketoacidosis.
Now I am not diabetic, and some time later I got a blood sugar monitor and test strips and discovered my blood sugar 2 hrs after a meal was up around 126 which they say over 140 is considered diabetic. But after recording levels for a week it was still within normal ranges. I decided maybe it was just too high anyway and so I began cutting out all sugary pop and desserts. A couple days after changing my diet I noticed considerable improvement in my gas pangs, but still had problems. At this time I also figured out that it was a high blood sugar attack (diabetic ketoacidosis) that I had went through, so now I was thinking there is definitely some relationship between blood sugar levels and IBS.
Some time after I came upon the wiki article on insulin resistance, and this is when everything made sense. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance). When my IBS is the worst I have almost all the symptoms listed. Notice mental fogginess and intestinal bloating as top symptoms. If you read up on the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetic_ketoacidosis) you will find that anxiety/panic attacks, bad dehydration, and hyperventilation are common symptoms. Your body uses up water and salts to flush out the extra blood sugar and is running so hard causing the panic attacks. Constipation from IBS is actually from the dehydration. For the past few years I have always hyperventilated a lot and drank way more water than everyone and never thought anything of it. I was bipolar with panic attacks and other related issues, which I now blame on the insulin resistance. I was also about 60lbs overweight and not in shape and had a sweet tooth. Right there though is the main problem.
I found out that insulin resistance is mainly caused by hormones released by visceral (organ/belly) fat. This fat is unique as it is put on more on some people than others, which I think the difference is that people with higher levels have undergone much more stress in their life. I have had a stressful life and have been overweight since I was about 10yrs old. I believe the insulin resistance builds and builds throughout life and eventually leads to type II diabetes if far out of control. Also, with this buildup there is a low level chronic diabetic ketoacidosis that goes on which causes what we all think is IBS. A diet high in saturated fats and simple sugars promotes more belly fat and more insulin resistance.
So because IBS is related to insulin resistance and low level ketoacidosis, the solution is to do things that a person would do to try to reverse their type II diabetes. I have seen different figures but usually it seems only 2% of people with type II diabetes are able to reverse it. I say the percentage is low because most people think that they can just change their diet and do moderate exercise to reverse type II, which is not enough. You must get in physical shape, get trim with as little visceral fat as possible, and change your diet to mostly meat and vegetables and some high protein carb foods. Have you ever heard of anyone with IBS that was trim, in shape, and ate right? They don't exist. Also, you can't just expect to go out jogging for an hour a day and that be enough. I can't stress enough how high intensity, heart slamming, sprinting style exercises that get you winded are needed to reverse the insulin resistance. Doing wind sprints for instance sucks and makes your heart want to beat out of your chest, but you can't stimulate your body into changing itself without such a push.
So for the past 3 months I have cut out carbs to a minimum and began exercising as intense and as often as I can. I have got my weight down from 250 about 8 months ago to 195 today, but still have a good amount of belly fat to burn. I don't usually eat breakfast as it is the easiest meal to skip (your choice) to cut some calories but if i do it is half (open face) whole wheat bagel with some turkey, slice of cheese, and a little mayo. For lunch I usually grill a hamburger with one slice of cheese , tomato slice, light mayo, and a whole wheat bagel for bun. For dinner I grill or bake a steak/chicken breast/fish etc with olive oil and no breading, and plenty of vegetables with no butter or cheese, also a spinach salad with some reduced fat bacon bits and light dressing. I snack on lowfat cottage cheese if hungry or feel i need some extra protein. I will usually have another open faced turkey bagel sandwich before sleep if too hungry to sleep.
I am doing windsprints outside at 10ft, 20ft, 30ft intervals. Indoors I have a heavy bag set up and do boxing as hard and fast as I can for upper body sprinting and sprint alternating kicks. I do as many stomach crunches and pushups as I can every day. Pretty much any exercise you do change it into intense cardio by lowering the weight and pushing very hard and fast. Always remember to warmup beforehand by jogging, light boxing, jump rope, etc...
ATM I have not experienced a gas pang or had constipation/diarrhea in probably 2 months. There is still a day or two where I slack off and eat some sweets or too much pizza and feel crappy because of it but I just keep pushing forward. Something else important, when you burn body fat it is quickly converted into blood sugar (a survival mechanism) so I start getting the confusion/hyperventilation/etc.. low level ketoacidosis symptoms when I am burning lots of body fat at once and cutting calories. But it is not enough to disable my life so I am going to keep on what I am doing. If you feel you have more severe symptoms you may want to consider medicine/insulin therapy until you can get your own insulin resistance under control. I am hoping that by the end of the summer I am trim and free of the high blood sugar symptoms, but I am very happy to be rid of gas pangs and having to poop 3+ times a day.
I hope you all can benefit from this info and spread it to others. I am going to post the same to all the IBS forums that I can find. God Bless!