Book a free call with Sarah!   Book Now!

What does H. pylori have to do with IBS?

If you struggle with digestive symptoms like bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea then you might be familiar with the term IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). IBS affects ~15% of the population, most of whom are women. (1)

But did you know there’s a little-known bacteria, called H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori), that has been linked to the onset of IBS? (2)

Today I’ll review:

What is H. pylori?

H. pylori is a bacteria that can cause an infection in the lining of your stomach or duodenum (the first part of your small intestine).  

It’s been reported that up to 75% of the population is infected with H. pylori. (3

Sometimes H. pylori isn’t a problem, but for others it can wreak havoc on their digestive tract, especially for those who have more harmful strains.

You may be thinking – H. Pylori doesn’t have anything to do with stomach ulcers. In fact, yes! H. pylori has been linked to everything from the onset of reflux, peptic ulcer disease (PUD), gastritis, and even stomach cancer.

How do you get H. pylori + signs & symptoms

There are a few different ways you can get H. pylori and we’ll review those here. We’ll also review common signs and symptoms that indicate you may have a problem.

How you get H. pylori

As I stated earlier, H. pylori is a common bacteria found in many people around the world and most commonly it is passed from person to person.

H. pylori can be passed from person to person by saliva but it can also be passed from contaminated food or water.  

Some other examples of how it can be passed:

The most common route? Acquiring H. pylori from your mother in infancy (4).

If you didn’t get it from your mother, then catching it from someone else in your adult years is quite possible. The likelihood of infection is equal to a person’s age (i.e. the older you are, the more likely you’ve come in contact with it).

Here’s the bad news: H. pylori can take root when you’re under immense stress.  

When you’re under stress, this reduces your immune functioning, which makes it hard for your body to fight off H. pylori when it enters your digestive system.

Even more proof that there’s a strong connection between your mind and gut!

If your immune functioning is poor, H. pylori will easily take hold and make a home in your stomach.

What does an H. Pylori infection feel like? Let’s cover that next.

Signs + Symptoms of H. pylori

One of the first tell tale signs of an H. Pylori infection is the display of upper GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms.  

If you suffer from stomach pain, reflux, heartburn, excessive belching, or a feeling like food is sitting in your stomach, then you’ll want to take note.

Other symptoms could include:

How can H. pylori lead to IBS?

H. pylori releases a chemical called urease.  Urease actually neutralizes your stomach acid, making it harder to break down foods appropriately (5).  

When there’s not enough stomach acid in your stomach, larger, undigested food particles can make it further down your digestive tract and into your colon.

The larger food particles provide fuel for opportunistic bacteria, parasites, pathogens, and viruses, which eventually leads to symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea–the very symptoms of IBS! (6)

How to find out if you have H. pylori 

If you suspect that you have an H. Pylori infection, how do you know? There are a few different ways to test for H. pylori.

Some tests are more accurate than others, as H. pylori likes to “hide out”, so even if it wasn’t shown in the first sample, it could still be present (this is called a “false negative” in medical terms).

In conventional medicine, the most common tests used for H. pylori are breath tests, biopsies (via endoscopy), and blood tests.

As a gut health nutritionist, my favorite test I like to utilize in my practice is a DNA stool test.  

The DNA stool test is highly accurate and has actually picked up H. pylori even when my patients’ biopsy showed negative results just a month prior. 

That’s because the stool test I use is measuring the very DNA of the H. pylori bacterium.  This makes it much harder for false negatives to happen and allows for higher accuracy in detecting it.

How to address your digestive issues in the right order

When a patient comes to me with a diagnosis of IBS or IBS like symptoms, from my personal experience, ~75% of the time we find H. pylori present in their stool test results.

That’s quite staggering.

This gives us answers though.  We have a targeted approach and know what to tackle, and in what order. 

As a general rule of thumb, addressing an H. pylori infection is the first step to achieving digestive relief.

Many times over, I’ve seen patients improve drastically when we address an H. pylori infection (in conjunction with food sensitivity testing).

What can you do?

If you want to get started in nixing your IBS and digestive issues, then I can help!  

As a gut health nutritionist, I can send you on your road to a full recovery.

If you’re ready to get started with my Digestive Reset Program, then book your free call to get started.