IBS and Starch

I grew up with IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome and over the years I have worked with it and used the elimination method until i, at the age of 40, finally found the main issue – that I am sensitive to starch.

Starch are broken down into sugar in the mouth with the help of the enzyme Amylase, and Amylase should also be present in the small intestine and continue this work.

Being short of amylase, you can therefore manage less starch. When not broken down,  the starch remains in the intestine and turns into sugary bacterial food, instead of being turned into glucose and absorbed through the intestinal wall. If the intestine is not properly rinsed between food intake, remains also stays put and ferments. This is typically what happens when we snack all through the day instead of having 3 proper meals with 5 hours in-between. And this is also a good explanation to my excessive gases and bloated belly.

Then why did/do I have a less amylase?

There can be several reasons for this

  • Lack of building blocks for amylase in the food we eat
  • Enzyme construction in the pancreas disturbed or absent
  • Genetically building smaller amount

After experimenting, I have come to the conclusion that I am one of those who genetically build a smaller amount of amylase than average and that gluten for some reason inhibited the small amount i naturally produce.

This explains why my symptoms could disappear in as little as 3  days, when i completely excluded starch. Less amylase is required then and 3 days is what was needed to empty the system from the starch present, feeding both friend and foe in my microbiome

After that initial strike of luck, it took a while for my gut to heal from the damage that the gluten had caused, but with 6 – 12 months of healing i actually observed i could manage increasing amounts of underground vegetables which also indicated that my amylase was returning.

Today I can tolerate a limited amount of starch, as long as I don’t eat gluten.  I can basically eat any amount of vegetables, above and below ground (with a few exceptions) and i can also eat a potato now and then – but if I eat too much – my stomach collapses and screams – STOP.

In my active IBS years, my stomach would collapse on me on a regular basis and at times I felt like I couldn’t eat anything. Today, I don’t have to be as restrictive – but still have some foods that are complete of limits to me. And I’ve learned to live with that.

We have to take care of our digestive system, without that nothing works. One important part is our intestinal villi. It is like a living coral reef on the inner wall of our small intestines that should absorb all the nutrition from the food we eat into the body. Our villi os also the place where enzymes for the breakdown of lactose are built (the enzyme lactase).

Gluten is like sandpaper on this fine coral reef that interferes with its function and causes many problems with digestion (very apparent in inflammatory diseases like Crohns, Celiaki and ulcerative colitis). Many also suffer a false lactose intolcerance due to gluten. Excluding gluten, you give the intestines a chance to heal and get back to normal function. We are lucky that we can recreate a well-functioning intestine when we remove the cause to the malfunction. The coral reef is not so lucky and rarely recovers once it has died.

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