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IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME

FOODS THAT HARM

  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, lactitol, mannitol, and maltitol

    FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Water
  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Berries
  • Lentils
  • Artichokes
  • Bananas

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • More than 37 million Americans and 5 million Canadians
  • Occurs more in women than men, especially during menstrual periods
  • People with a family history of IBS
    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often characterized by abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines, resulting in too little or too much fluid in the bowel
    Symptoms vary markedly from one person to another
    Some people experience urgent diarrhea
    Others experience the type called spastic colon, with alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation as well as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas, and nausea, particularly after eating
    There are no tests for IBS, which is diagnosed by ruling out colitis, cancer, and other diseases
    Although it may be aggravated by food intolerances or

    Allergies

    , no specific cause has been established
    It may be worsened by stress and emotional conflict, but it is not a psychological disorder

    QUICK TIP:

    Take peppermint oil capsules Take one or two enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil between meals
    The oil should not be taken by people suffering from acid reflux disease

    Nutrition Connection

    Various dietary factors can play a major role in exacerbating or calming IBS
    While both the trigger foods and effects vary from person to person, these general guidelines will help eliminate some discomfort and some of the other symptoms: Eat several small meals
    Avoid eating large meals and instead space meals out over the course of a day
    This can reduce the increase in bowel contractions and diarrhea
    Eat slowly
    Eating too quickly may increase swallowed air, which promotes irritating intestinal gas
    Also, poorly chewed foods can be more difficult to digest
    Drink lots of water
    To maintain adequate fluid, drink at least eight glasses of water or other beverages daily, but avoid such potential bowel irritants as alcohol and caffeine
    Avoid fatty foods
    Most doctors advise against eating fried and other fatty foods because fat is the most difficult nutrient to digest
    Closely monitor fiber intake
    Whole grain products and other high-fiber foods can pose problems for some IBS sufferers who have chronic diarrhea
    On the other hand, if constipation is the predominant symptom, a diet that includes ample fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds, and other high-fiber foods is usually recommended
    Consider psyllium seeds
    For persistent constipation, ask your doctor about taking ground psyllium seeds or another high-fiber laxative
    Avoid chronic laxative use, which can lead to vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
    Avoid sugar alcohols
    The sugar substitutes sorbitol, lactitol, mannitol, and maltitol are used in a variety of foods and can trigger IBS symptoms in some people
    For others, the lactose in dairy products and possibly fructose can exacerbate symptoms
    Know which fiber you need
    Insoluble fiber helps to bulk up stools and ease elimination, relieving IBS-associated constipation
    Foods high in soluble fiber absorb water and are helpful for bouts of diarrhea
    Consider probiotics
    Recent research has found that probiotics may help relieve the symptoms of IBS
    Probiotics have been shown to normalize bowel function in those suffering from IBS

    Beyond the Diet

    Because IBS differs from person to person, it’s essential to develop an individualized regimen to treat your symptoms

    Beyond the Diet

    ary modifications described above, try the following: Track your triggers
    The first step in learning to control IBS symptoms is recognizing the factors that may trigger symptoms
    A diary that records IBS symptoms along with all foods and beverages ingested and stressful events can help pinpoint possible culprits
    De-stress
    It is common for stress to exacerbate IBS symptoms, so it is important to make an effort to develop effective relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and biofeedback
    Exercise
    Being active can be very therapeutic for people with IBS because it helps reduce stress: It can also normalize bowel function if constipation is a problem
    Look to medications for relief
    A doctor may prescribe medications to quell abnormal muscle contractions and alleviate diarrhea
    Some recent research suggests that bacterial overgrowth in the bowel may be a cause of IBS
    In one study, 78% of those with IBS were found to have bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, and antibiotics eliminated the disease in half of those who got rid of the overgrowth
    20% of all adults are affected by irritable bowel syndrome