Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Foods that Help and Hurt

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an elusive disease that affects 25-45 million people in the US and maybe even more dogs. IBS consists of waves of intestinal distress - intermittent constipation, diarrhea, cramping and gas. Doctors aren't exactly sure what causes it, but a healthy, well-controlled diet can help control flare-ups.

IBS flare-ups are commonly caused by your bowels working overtime to digest fat. When we eat high fat foods, our bowels contract which can cause a lot of pain for people with IBS. Additionally, high fat foods tend to have little fiber and fiber is a key to controlling IBS. Soluble fiber forms a sticky gel that acts like a protective coating inside your digestive tract - preventing irritants and toxins from causing gas and cramping. Insoluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through the large intestines, heloing to soften your stool. Both kinds of fiber help to sweep things along and on out from your stomach to your intesines and to your stool.

Foods that Can Calm/Soothe IBS Symptoms - Constipation
  • Apples-loaded with fiber
  • Berries-rich in fiber too (elderberries are raspberries are the highest)
  • Dark leafy greens - many like dandelion greens are an effective natural laxative because they help increase bile flow to the intestines
  • Flaxseed - rich in fiber and omega-3's. You'll need to either crack the seeds youraself or purchase flaxseed meal, because our bodies cannot crack open the hard shell that surrounds the seed. It tastes nutty and sweet - try some on your cerewal or smoothie.
  • Ginger-contains certain chemicals that stimulate your digestive system
Foods to Watch
  • Beans-excessive gas producers
  • Coffee-have been found to increase your bowels' sensitivity
  • Corn- 1 in 5 people are irritated by corn
  • Milk/Dairy-some with IBS are lactose intolerant
  • Sweets - can be hard to digest or move into intestines undigested.