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Diet and Alternative Therapy For Treating IBS – Changing Eating Habits

Intestinal Tract

Annetta Holmes

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) also known as spastic colon, intestinal neurosis or mucous colitis is one of the most common digestive disturbances seen by health care practitioners.

In a healthy digestive system the normal movement of the intestines is caused by the alternate contraction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles. This moves food and waste through the system. When this is disrupted the system becomes less rhythmic and more uncoordinated. Toxins and waste build up and IBS is usually the end result.

Changing your eating habits is a key factor in fighting this ailment. Never have the words “food is medicine” been more true. Products to avoid are those which are hard pressed to be classified as food in the real sense of the meaning. Chemical-laced highly-refined pseudo-foods are filled with artificial flavourants, colourants and preservatives. Flavourants and colourants are chemicals pumped into food to make it look and taste better. Chemicals are toxins.

By eating these foods you increase the amount of waste that the kidneys, liver and intestines have to deal with. Your waste removal organs need energy to do their job. Energy gets manufactured from proper food -- not alien-to-the-body chemicals. Once your body is loaded with these toxins and your energy levels are depleted, IBS can easily set in. The more toxic load you add the worse the condition.

Preservatives work by killing bacteria. However, preservatives do not discriminate. Any and all bacteria are eliminated. Health producing bacteria, of which there are billions in your digestive tract, keep your system in balance. These bugs make up your gut flora. The health producing or “friendly” bacteria assist in the digestion and absorption of your food. They also suppress or destroy potentially harmful bacteria before those microbes multiply excessively and cause disease. Your digestive tract contains such toxic bacteria as Streptococci and Clostridia and harmful yeasts including Candida albicans which is commonly known as Candida.

By consuming foods which contain preservatives the gut flora is slowly unbalanced. Digestion and absorption become upset. Candida, being an adaptable opportunistic microbe flourishes. Candida excretes toxic waste that further loads an already overloaded system.

It has long been recognized by Naturopaths and other holistic practitioners that a sluggish disabled digestive tract will soon lead to more severe illnesses. Any approach to treating IBS must first start with diet. When digestion and absorption are below par malnourishment follows quickly. Many people associate malnutrition with emaciation. However, many normal weight people eating highly processed foods soon use up all available nutrients and suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

When dealing with IBS practical solutions are needed. What you can do immediately is increase your consumption of fresh vegetables, lean meat, organic eggs, whole grains (unpolished rice is especially good for IBS) and unsugared bran. Stay away from wheat and wheat bran. Intolerance to this grain has caused IBS in some people. Eat six to eight small meals a day. A meal should be the size of your fist. Large meals overwhelm the digestive process. Chew your food well. Chewing stimulates digestive juices and breaks down food so that your digestive system need not work so hard. Fruit contains fructose which can contribute to bloating if you have an underlying Candida problem. Restrict fruit to one piece a day until you are over the worst of your IBS symptoms.

After you have altered your eating habits and your body is settling down it may be the time to try a fast. Fasting is one of the best ways to improve IBS. Fasting allows the digestive system to rest. Energy is then diverted to healing and removing toxins circulating in the bloodstream. Do not attempt a fast on your own. Seek the guidance of a Naturopath or suitably qualified health care professional. A water-only fast allows too many toxins to enter the bloodstream too quickly. Severe headaches and many other unpleasant symptoms are the result. In preparation for a fast, start accustoming your body to bland foods. Spend two days a week eating only lightly steamed vegetables and broths and whole grain toast. Keep introducing your body to the way you will need to eat in the future. Don't despair if you can't stick to it. Give your body time to adjust. Try again tomorrow. But keep the goal in mind and work towards it. If you have spent many years eating poorly and have coupled that with stress you will need to retrain yourself and your taste buds in this new way.

Supplements are vital when the digestion system is poor. When it comes to choosing supplements buy a reputable brand. Vitamin B complex improves the muscle tone of the digestive tract. Milk thistle treats your liver, which is the organ responsible for a large percentage of toxin elimination. Milk thistle, with its active ingredient silymarin, is a powerful liver protecting substance and assists with the production of new liver cells. Vitamin C - choose one that has bioflavonoids (substances such as hesperidin, quercetin and rutin). Vitamin C makes toxins less poisonous and in this way helps the liver work more efficiently. Your Naturopath will guide you on quantities.

Take an enzyme with every meal. This further supports the digestive system. Take acidophilus because it restocks the “friendly” bacteria. These bacteria help break down food and manufacture the B vitamins.

Stress should not be underestimated when dealing with IBS. If you live at a frenetic pace then concentrate on managing this lifestyle so it doesn't consume you. Work out how to increase your relaxation periods. Plan slots in your week in which to exercise. Exercising regularly works your muscles and increases your heart rate. These two actions speed up elimination of waste products. Include in your health management programme regular aromatherapy massages. Book a weekly reflexology session. Your reflexologist will target the liver, gall bladder and the digestion system. All these actions work towards normalizing your body. Always drink several glasses of filtered water. Water flushes your system and keeps things moving.

By implementing these changes and improving your eating habits, you'll soon stabilize your digestive system. After a few months your energy levels will increase and the unpleasant symptoms of IBS will slowly abate. However, to retain these benefits, going back to old eating habits and stress patterns should be avoided.

Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2007.

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