Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What is it?
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is an ailment that affects mainly the bowel or large intestine. The bowel makes and stores stool. A group of symptoms is termed a syndrome. IBS is a syndrome because it can cause several symptoms.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Certain foods may cause cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea in people with IBS.
How to manage IBS
The doctor may prescribe laxatives to help with constipation. Antispasmodics, drugs that slow contractions in the bowel, may be recommended to treat diarrhea and pain. Those in severe pain may benefit from antidepressants.
Reducing stress through meditation, exercise, and counseling may aid in making the symptoms less problematic and more manageable.
Emotional tension and anxiety, poor dietary habits, and certain medications can contibute to an attack of IBS. Increased amounts of fiber in the diet can help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by producing soft, bulky stools. This helps to soften the stool. Irritable bowel syndrome, if left untreated, may lead to diverticulosis of the colon.
There are products that absorb water and produce the bulk necessary for the digestive tract to perform naturally. These would certainly aid people who don't tolerate fibrous foods well. These products absorb water and produce the bulk necessary for the digestive tract to perform naturally.
Foods to avoid
Avoiding fatty foods, milk products, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can control symptoms.
Fats and some animal products are the most difficult foods to digest. Avoiding garlic, onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts and other foods with sulfur is wise. Acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegars can be eaten in small quantities with soluble fibers. Fructose found in honey and fruit juices can be problematic as well. Avoid the juices and eat the whole fruit.
High fiber connection
Insoluble fiber is found in the healthiest foods in our diets, but for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome this can be real trouble. One should not reduce their insoluble fiber intake since this would make for a very unhealthy diet.
High fiber foods and smaller meals can reduce symptoms. By being selective, one can still enjoy a wide variety of high fiber foods in very healthy quantities. Start with small quantities and gradually increase your intake, remembering to eat lots of soluble fiber at the same time.
See our pages on high fiber foods and high fiber recipes for lots of additional help in how to structure an IBS diet.