Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS

IBS is characterized by abdominal digestive type problems which has reached epidemic proportions. Symptoms vary greatly but include bloating, wind, abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhoea which are all made much worse by short and long term stress.

IBS is most commonly due to food intolerance- especially to wheat, too much flour and cow’s milk. Sometimes IBS can be due to poor gut bacteria, quite frequently this can happen after antibiotics or surgery and can sometimes be a result of candida (a yeast fungal overgrowth that thrives on sugar and following antibiotics).

Sometimes the symptoms of IBS can reflect a more serious underlying condition so it is very important to see your doctor in case you have Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative colitis or diverticultis which are often mistaken for IBS. People with IBS need to support their liver by watching their intake of fats, caffeine and alcohol.

Foods to Avoid:

Problem foods are usually wheat, dairy from cow’s, eggs and citrus fruits especially oranges. Foods with a high tyramine content such as cheese, port, red wine and sherry, beef, liver, herring, sauerkraut and yeast extracts should be avoided. I would say that refined wheat is the biggest problem and cow’s milk and produce is next. Cut these two foods from your diet for two weeks and see if there is any improvement. Flour generally from any source gunks up the bowel in sensitive individuals – hence why if you avoid all flour for seven days the symptoms often subside. Avoid large meals which place a huge burden on the digestion and liver. Avoid fried foods and mass produced fats, especially hydrogenated and trans fats found in most shop bought cakes and biscuits.

Friendly Foods:

There are plenty of alternatives to wheat. Ask at your health shop for wheat free breads and use amaranth, oat and rye crisp breads and rice cakes which are delicious. If symptoms are severe you might also need to drop oats, barley and rye – try a small amount and see what happens. You can now buy lentil, corn, rice and potato based pastas. Try organic rice, soya, pea or oat milk. Low fat goat’s milk is usually well tolerated. Eat more brown rice, potatoes, fish, lean poultry, fruits and vegetables. Peppermint, fennel, camomile and rosemary teas can all enhance digestion and ease discomfort. Include more fennel, celeriac, artichoke and beetroot in salads which helps cleanse the liver. Try to eat more foods that you wouldn’t normally eat, exotic grains like quinoa and amaranth are good protein sources and rarely cause problems. Instead of orange juice, try apple juice, pear juice or even pineapple juice. Add more ginger to your food which soothes your gut. Many sufferers report that eating a banana helps ease symptoms. Eat smaller, light meals and don’t eat large meals late at night.

Useful Remedies:

As absorption of nutrients is often a problem in IBS and you may be low in stomach acid, try taking one Betaine hydrochloride (stomach acid) capsule with meals, or if you don’t like swallowing capsules then try peppermint formula 20 drops prior to a meal. If you have active stomach ulcers do not take the Betaine, instead take a digestive enzyme formula. Bio Care make excellent digestive enzymes – call 0121 433 3727. Take 1 – 2 Acidophilus capsules at the end of meals to replace healthy bacteria in the gut which also improve digestion. Bio Care as above. Take a high strength B complex to make sure you have all the nutrients necessary to digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Aloe Vera juice 20mls taken before meals has helped a lot of people as it helps increase stool bulk, enhances digestion and eases the discomfort of IBS. Linseed ( Flax seeds) in the form of Linusit Gold 1 – 3 dessert spoons a day providing 10 – 20grams of linseeds. The mixture of soluble and insoluble fibres help stimulate the bowel gently while providing stool bulk enabling the bowel to function normally and comfortably. Linseed has been successful in both alleviating constipation and diarrhoea but it must be taken with plenty of water. Seacure is hydrolyzed protein from lean white fish which helps relieve the pain of multiple digestive dysfunctions by helping to repair the gut wall. Adults, take 6 capsules daily. Children may also take it. Break open capsules and mix with food. For details call the Nutri Centre on 0207 436 5122.

Helpful Hints:

  • Oil of Peppermint is anti spasmodic – massage on your abdomen and drink peppermint tea after meals.
  • Gentle exercise on a regular basis enhances bowel function. Yoga, swimming or walking are all good forms of exercise which do not overtax the system and enhance relaxation.
  • Remember to eat in a relaxed fashion, being stressed while you eat makes it very difficult for normal digestion.
  • Try to avoid eating food on the run.
  • Remember if you have an intolerance to one food, it’s likely to be more than one. Very few of us react to just one food and in most cases we react to 4 or 5. Try to identify them with the aid of a Nutritionist or Kinesiologist.