Approximately 40 million Americans – mostly women – have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). IBS is a chronic disorder with symptoms that include abdominal bloating, pain and/or discomfort, and diarrhea or constipation. Most people with IBS have certain food sensitivities, therefore the following is recommended.
• Stay away from sugar alcohol. This includes any ingredient ending in “ol:” sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, (as well as isomalt) and so on. Sugar-free foods usually contain these ingredients.
• Stay away from artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal/NutraSweet), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), acesulfame potassium (Ace K), and sucralose (Splenda), Stevia (Truvia, etc.) usually contained in sugar-free foods.
• Stay away from fried foods and other fatty foods.
• Stay away from foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
• Stay away from chocolate, coffee, tea (unless herbal) and milk products. (Try almond, soy or rice milk or Lactaid milk – lactose free.)
• Don’t overwhelm your digestive system! Consume smaller meals. Americans typically eat meals big enough for two or three people and wonder why they have digestive problems!
Try the following:
• Gradually increase fiber, especially fiber such as bran (insoluble fiber).
• Eat more wholesome foods and avoid processed, prepared foods.
• Drink water to flush the system and replace lost water from diarrhea.
• Take probiotics (strains of “good” bacteria to neutralize any “bad” bacteria in the intestines). Don’t count on yogurt to have enough live cultures, unless it is unprocessed and contains only the milk, and live cultures, since most of it is lost in the processing. Try Kefir, a probiotic drink, without sugar preferably.
• Take chewable digestive or papaya enzymes to aid in digestion.
• Try chamomile tea for relaxation of the digestive system.
• Exercise. Walk to stimulate the digestive system so it works efficiently.
• Breathe deeply to reduce stress caused by IBS.
• Try 1,000 – 3,000 mg of omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil, which acts as an anti-inflammatory. If you are on blood thinners such as Coumadin or aspirin, only consume omega-3 fats by eating cold-water fish.
Finally, pay attention to the times when you feel unwell, and think about what you ate, if you were stressed, and what else might have been going on. There may be certain trigger foods or situations that upset your system in particular.