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We know magnesium plays an active role in health span and even longevity.  In a recently published study this important mineral has been shown to reduce Irritable Bowel Disease risk and symptoms.  If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD),  then you may need to check your magnesium intake is optimal.

People with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) may be magnesium deficient

Before we look at the study findings, here’s a reminder of the differences between Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

What are the differences between IBD and IBS?

It’s easy to confuse the two.  “According to Beth Israel Lahey Health, “When stomach pain strikes, many of us take to the internet for clues about what’s going on. But the possible causes you read about might be confusing.”

“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) might sound the same, but they’re two very different conditions. Getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment is essential in managing both conditions.”

Anthony Lembo, MD, Director of the IBS and Motility Center Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an expert on IBS, shared this overview of both conditions on the Beth Israel Lahey Health website. As quoted and referenced below:

Q. What are the symptoms of IBS and IBD?

Both are digestive conditions and affect the esophagus, stomach and intestines.

IBS is a chronic syndrome made up of a group of symptoms. IBD, on the other hand, refers to inflammation or chronic swelling of the intestines.

IBS symptoms include chronic abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits—diarrhea and constipation, or alternating between both. Symptoms can vary person to person and can often change over time, making it difficult to manage.

IBS does not develop into IBD or cause permanent harm in your intestines, such as intestinal bleeding, other intestinal diseases or cancer. But it can significantly affect your quality of life. Some have reported they would be willing to give up their essential pleasures—caffeine, use of cell phone and the internet and even sex — to be free of IBS symptoms.

Common forms of IBD include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Both cause chronic inflammation in the GI tract. These conditions can cause rectal bleeding and diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramping, pain, reduced appetite, unintended weight loss and fatigue.

Q. Who is at risk for IBS or IBD?

IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. It is more common in women and can affect all ages including children, but is most common in young adults.

Meanwhile, about 1.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with IBD. This chronic disease affects both genders equally and is more common among Caucasians.

Q. What are the causes of IBS and IBD?

Researchers are still working to understand the exact causes. Some people develop IBS after a GI infection. Other potential causes include diet, environmental or psychological factors, such as stress, and frequent use of antibiotics.

With IBD, stress may worsen the condition and studies suggested that your genes, immune system and environmental factors may also play a role.

Those with IBD are known to have an overactive immune system, which causes inflammation in the GI tract.

Q. How are IBS and IBD treated?

Several medications are available and many promising drugs are under study as well. Doctors also recommend those with IBS communicate openly with to their caregivers about ongoing GI symptoms.

Medication to manage and prevent IBD flare-ups include biologics, which are medication therapies made from living organisms that help restore the body’s ability to fight the disease.

Surgery may be necessary when medications no longer control the symptoms of IBD. Surgical treatment removes the affected portion of the bowel, but occasionally a complete removal of the colon or rectum is considered.”

Study findings on Irritable Bowel Disease and the importance of magnesium

A recent study, published in May 2022 in the medical journal Nutrients, found that patients with IBD had low levels of magnesium.

The findings from the team at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iasi, Romania suggest that magnesium may play a primary role in the development of IBD. The full details of the researchers are listed in the reference section below.

Regulates muscle cells

One of the key benefits of magnesium and why it is a good aid for IBD symptoms is that it helps muscle function.

Magnesium regulates various muscle cells throughout the body and allows them to contract properly, including the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. 

IBD can be debilitating and damaging

The study authors noted that magnesium deficiency may also contribute to poor sleep and depression.

They explained that, “There is recent evidence that magnesium contributes to regulating cellular timekeeping in animal cells. And, consequently, has a beneficial effect on maintaining normal circadian rhythm and contributes to improved quality of sleep in humans. Moreover, low dietary magnesium intake was significantly associated with depression; it is known that depression is associated with poor sleep.”

“Despite the real impact of magnesium, the micronutrient’s deficiency can be easily overlooked considering the absence of specific clinical signs.”  – Research team, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Iasi, Romania

Conclusions from the study

The researchers say their study pioneers the investigation of magnesium hair concentration in an adult population of IBD patients.

“Magnesium levels appear to be modified in IBD patients, which suggests that either a primary role is played in disease pathophysiology or is a result of the disease evolution. Magnesium could be integrated in predictive models for disease activity.”

How to get magnesium?

Millions of people suffer from IBS or IBD.  However, before you run out and start taking a magnesium supplement you should first understand if you really need to and how much.  If you think you may have IBS or IBD,  rather see a gastroenterologist about your symptoms.

Then when you know you are not getting enough magnesium, there are several hundreds of magnesium supplements to choose from. Always opt for a reputable product/company that adheres to professional manufacturing standards and sells medical researched based formulations.

You can also ensure you get enough magnesium by including certain foods in your day-to-day meals.

Eat these magnesium rich foods

Foods with magnesium include, nuts, seeds, vegan dark chocolate, spinach and black beans. Avocados, oatmeal, bananas, and wild-caught salmon are tasty and nutritious all rounders. Potatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, tofu, and legumes also contain magnesium.

References

Magnesium—A Potential Key Player in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases?
Mario Barbagallo, Academic Editor, Ligia J. Dominguez, Academic Editor, and Nicola Veronese, Academic Editor
Beth Israel Lahey Center About IBD: https://www.bidmc.org/about-bidmc/wellness-insights/gastrointestinal-gi-health/2016/04/ibs-vs-ibd
Source: Learn more about IBS and IBD at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

 

 

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Gisèle Wertheim Aymes

Gisèle is the owner of the Longevity brand and a self-proclaimed health hedonist. When she is not working, you'll find in her in a yoga class or active in the great outdoors. Gisèle is passionate about health and sharing information. You can follow her @giselewaymes on Twitter and Instagram or read her Linked-In profile for full bio details.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.