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A Toronto Functional Medicine Fact Sheet on IBS and Lifestyle Modifications


Did you know that the Toronto functional medicine approach can pertain to irritable bowel syndrome? 

Also called IBS, this condition can hinder daily lives, causing absences from work or school due to its critical symptoms. Surprisingly, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation reports that our country “…has one of the highest rates of IBS in the world, estimated at 18% vs 11% globally.” 

This health condition is commonly misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Some patients, including athletes with IBS, have digestive complaints and they still don’t fit a criterion for diagnosis. Other patients do not seek treatment for their digestive issues due to shame, so that’s another reason why it may be left untreated.  

Thus, a personalized approach to gut health could help with managing individual symptoms. This is recognized by the functional medicine model, which takes into account your biology, health goals, medical history/family histories, current lifestyle and environmental settings for customizing treatment plans. It also makes use of routine lab tests, which allows for functional medicine practitioners to adapt IBS treatments. For example, a stool sample may be measured for fecal inflammatory markers, which helps determine if symptoms are related to IBS or another condition called IBD (inflammatory bowel disorder).

In this article, we highlight facts about IBS, how changes in lifestyle factors can lessen the severity of symptoms, and information about our private downtown clinic. 

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a gastrointestinal issue that triggers bowel discomforts. Both kids and adults may be affected. Diagnosing this chronic condition can take ample time for some health providers, as IBS “… appears normal on routine tests,” confirms the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. You can learn more about IBS below:

    • Clinical symptoms may include: bloating, excessive flatulence, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and/or mucus in the stool.
    • Health experiences with IBS range for each patient. Some people might have symptoms for a couple days per month; others may have their daily lives impeded for several months at a time. Though it’s a chronic disease, some people form it temporarily after a bout of food poisoning.
    • Known causes of IBS can range from a bacterial infection or a parasitic infection (giardiasis) of the intestines, to excessive stress and the use of some medications (i.e. antibiotics). But according to a Gastroenterology Clinics of North America article, “Relatives of an individual with IBS are two to three times as likely to have IBS, with both genders being affected.” Scientists postulate that it may also be brought on from miscommunication amid nerves in the gut-brain interaction. As a result, this can generate discomforts in the bowels. 
    • Irritable bowel syndrome is not the same as IBD (inflammatory bowel disorder). Though both conditions have some similar symptoms, they require different treatments. IBD is an umbrella term for colitis and Crohn’s and can damage the gastrointestinal tract – these impairments may be physically seen during lab examinations. IBS, on the other hand, cannot be detected on conventional tests. But functional medicine testing may be conducted to inspect for IBS indicators. You may read about how we use functional  medicine for Crohn’s disease in our blog.

Applying Healthy Lifestyle Modifications for IBS

Functional medicine therapies may be suitable for IBS-related physical and mental stressors. If you were to consult with a functional medicine practitioner from our clinic, these lifestyle factors may be discussed to promote optimal function and reduce symptom severity: 

    • Probiotic supplements: These are used for numerous digestive conditions, including to prevent post-antibiotic C. difficile infections, food poisoning, and IBS. Probiotics can alter the gut microbiota, which could decrease symptom severity. As explained in a review from Cureus, many patients who have taken probiotics have reported a reduction in symptom complaints and an improvement in stool regularity. 
    • Dietary changes: An elimination diet may be advised, which consists of removing particular foods and slowly reintroducing them to see if you get reactions. A low-FODMAP (low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet may be discussed, too. This is because some components of gluten (i.e. fructans) can worsen IBS symptoms. 
    • Physical activity: Many studies have indicated that sedentary lifestyles can exacerbate IBS. However, studies have shown that walking, yoga and mountaineering can offer some comfort to gastrointestinal symptoms. 

One thing to remember: Because we adhere to functional medicine, treatments are based on your individual needs. For customizing your unique health plan, the above recommendations may or may not be suited for you. Functional tests may be advised to scrutinize your biology, which helps us tailor your therapies. For example, a comprehensive stool analysis (gut health assessment) may be conducted to measure for bacteria that may be instigating symptoms. We may also run a food sensitivity test to help pinpoint which foods are troublesome for your biology.  

Truly, lifestyle interventions could impact how you live with IBS. Request your session to see how we can address your digestive health challenge.

Revive Your Health Status at the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre (TFMC)

Digestive issues can diminish your quality of life – but at the TFMC, we introduce you to tools to improve different aspects of health. 

Our compassionate health care providers tailor conventional and natural therapies to meet your needs. Your comprehensive treatment plan may include a range of health services, such as a health detoxification program, Western medicine, naturopathic medicine, intravenous therapy from our IV therapy Toronto lounge, hormone optimization programs, bio-identical thyroid hormone therapy, herbal medicines, acupuncture, and more. 

Reaching optimal wellness is a unique health journey for each patient. At the TFMC, we understand this, which is why we welcome you to collaborate with us as we build your customized, proactive, long-term health plan. Treatment plans and IV drip doses are adapted according to integrative functional medicine wisdom, which is how we individualize therapies. We can tailor treatment plans for an array of health issues too, including IBS, heart disease, a hormone imbalance, body aches, menopausal symptoms (i.e. night sweats), nutritional deficiency, autoimmune disease, and more. 

You might need assistance unraveling your health potential, but don’t worry, we’re here to help! Attaining optimal wellness may require a personalized approach to health care – call us today for functional medicine from our Toronto clinic. 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.



Dale HF, Rasmussen SH, Asiller ÖÖ, Lied GA. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019; 11(9):2048.

Improve Patients’ Quality of Life With Lifestyle Interventions for IBS” from The Institute for Functional Medicine, viewed on August 4, 2023. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome” from the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, viewed on August 4, 2023. 

Kang SH, Choi SW, Lee SJ, Chung WS, Lee HR, Chung KY, Lee ES, Moon HS, Kim SH, Sung JK, Lee BS, Jeong HY. The effects of lifestyle modification on symptoms and quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective observational study. Gut Liver. 2011 Dec;5(4):472-7. doi: 10.5009/gnl.2011.5.4.472. Epub 2011 Nov 21. PMID: 22195246; PMCID: PMC3240791.

Lauren A. Killian and Soo-Yeun Lee. 2019. Irritable bowel syndrome is underdiagnosed and ineffectively managed among endurance athletes. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 44(12): 1329-1338.

Okawa Y. A Discussion of Whether Various Lifestyle Changes can Alleviate the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Oct 12;10(10):2011. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10102011. PMID: 36292457; PMCID: PMC9602372.

Saito YA. The role of genetics in IBS. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2011 Mar;40(1):45-67. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2010.12.011. PMID: 21333900; PMCID: PMC3056499.

Satish Kumar L, Pugalenthi LS, Ahmad M, Reddy S, Barkhane Z, Elmadi J. Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Review of Their Therapeutic Role. Cureus. 2022 Apr 18;14(4):e24240. doi: 10.7759/cureus.24240. PMID: 35602835; PMCID: PMC9116469.

What is IBS?” from the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, viewed on August 6, 2023. 


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