Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system, with symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts classify IBS as a functional disease — an umbrella term encompassing bowel dysfunction that can play out in numerous ways, for numerous underlying reasons.
So the research tells us that these are the two main causes of irritable bowel — food allergies and overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine — but there are others, including a lack of digestive enzymes, parasites living in the gut, key nutrient deficiency, heavy metal toxicity, and more.
And this is why it is important to personalize treatment based on the unique circumstances that exist for each person who suffers from IBS — the solution is most certainly not a one-size-fits-all. Once the gut is disturbed, it needs to be given the right conditions to recover naturally, so here areRELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
5 essential tips for you to create an effective irritable bowel syndrome diet
Also check out this IBS Fodmap
Food sensitivities or intolerances can cause IBS symptoms (as opposed to true food allergy which occurs rapidly after ingesting very small quantities of the food concerned, for example peanuts or shellfish). Removing known foods that can cause IBS symptoms is the first stage, these include starchy foods such as bread and pasta, which contain gluten, a known gut irritant.
Other key foods to remove are pasteurized dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese. Processed sugars and Soy, which is common with vegetarians are two additional known irritants that must be removed. This can also mean reducing or removing foods such as beans, lentils and some nuts as they are all harder for a sluggish digestive system to break down.
The second tip is to make sure the microbial ecosystem in the gut is healthy. The gastrointestinal tract is an important part of the immune system, and studies show that intestinal bacteria play an essential role in immune defences.
These bacteria not only aid digestion but essentially help form a protective barrier inside the intestine, so repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria by adding foods such as raw dairy, kefir and fermented foods to your diet.
The third one, I cannot emphasis enough, keep fluids with meals to a minimum, and chew food thoroughly. The natural process by which saliva is added to food as it is chewed, to break it down thoroughly in the mouth, sets the rest of the digestive process in motion.
So, our habit of washing down food with water or other beverages or eating food too fast can be counter-productive. But with fluids make sure that you are drinking enough throughout the rest of the day as water is still an important part of our diet.
The fourth tip is about what to add into your diet. Add seasonal fruit and vegetables, meaning those that are in season for where you live. Add that to a balance of organic meats and fish and you have the foundations for a healthy IBS diet. Adding other foods such as Quinoa, wild rice and sweet potato and you can create an abundance of healthy meals.
Lastly, but most importantly, the bowel also reacts to emotional states, such as anger, worry and anxiety, which can also lead to emotional eating, meaning those foods that cause the symptoms in the first place. There’s proof that stress management can help prevent or ease irritable bowel syndrom symptoms.
Some people use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Others reduce stress by doing something enjoyable, such as talking to a friend, reading, listening to music, or shopping. Add to that regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and you have all the tools for a powerful weapon against IBS.