IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder seen by physicians. It is estimated that about one in five adult Americans has symptoms of IBS, although fewer than half of them seek help for it. Twice as many women suffer from the condition as men. This disorder is also sometimes called intestinal neurosis, mucous colitis spastic colitis, or spastic colon.

In IBS, the normally rhythmic muscular contractions of the digestive tract become irregular and uncoordinated. This interferes with the normal movement of food and waste material, and leads to the accumulation of mucus and toxins in the intestine. This accumulated material sets up a partial obstruction of the digestive tract, trapping gas and stools, which in turn causes bloating, distention, and constipation. IBS may affect the entire gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth through the colon.

Symptoms of IBS may include constipation and/ or diarrhea (often alternating), abdominal pain, mucus in the stools, nausea, flatulence, bloating, anorexia, and intolerance to certain foods. Pain is often triggered by eating, and may be relieved by a bowel movement. Because of the pain, diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes severe headaches and even vomiting, a person with IBS may dread eating. Whether or not an individual with IBS eats normally, malnutrition may result, people with IBS require as much as 30 percent more protein than normal, as well as an increased intake of minerals and trace elements, which can quickly be depleted by diarrhea.

There are no physical signs of disease in bowel tissue with this disorder, and its cause or causes are not well understood. Some scientists believe a virus or bacterium may play a role. Lifestyle factors such as stress and diet are probably common causes. The overuse of antibiotics, ant-acids, or laxatives, which disturb the bacterial microflora of the bowel, may also be facto.

Many other diseases can be related to IBS, including candidiasis, colon cancer, diabetes mellitus, and gallbladder disease, malabsorption disorders, pancreatic insufficiency, ulcers, and the parasitic infections amebiasis and giardiasis. Over 100 different disorders may be linked to the systemic effects of IBS. One disorder that is linked in about 25 percent of adults with IBS is arthritis, usually peripheral arthritis, which affects the ankles, knees, and wrists. Less frequently, the spine is a affected. IBS can also be related to skin disorders, but this is unusual. Some people with IBS have abnormalities in the levels of liver enzymes in their blood.

Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome requires ruling out disorders that can cause similar symptoms, such as crohn’s  disease, diverticulitis, lactose intolerance, and ulcerative colitis. A physician may recommend one or more of a variety of procedure to do this, including barium enema, colonoscopy, rectal biopsy, sigmoidoscopy, and stool examination to check for the presence of bacteria, blood, and/ or parasites.

Irritable bowel syndrome is painful, but not serious, and most people who have it can lead active, productive lives if they change their diets, get regular exercise, and replace needed nutrients.

 

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

        Eat a high-fiber diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains (especially brown rice) and legumes.

 

Use supplemental fiber. Psyllium powder regulates bowel movements and should be used daily. Also use oat bran and ground flaxseeds daily, on an alternating basis.

 

Avoid animal fats, butter, all carbonated beverages, coffee and all other substances containing caffeine, candy, chocolate, all dairy products, fried foods, ice cream, all junk foods, the additives mannitol and sorbitol, margarine, nuts, orange and grapefruit juices, pastries, all processed foods, seeds, spicy foods, sugar, sugar-free chewing gum, and wheat bran and wheat products. These foods encourage the secretion of mucus by the membranes and prevent the uptake of nutrients.

 

Avoid alcohol and tobacco, these irritate  the linings of the stomach and colon.

 

When an intestinal upset occurs, switch to a bland diet. Put vegetables and nonacidic fruits through a food processor or blender. Organic baby food is good. If you are on a soft diet, take some type of fiber and a protein supplement.

 

To relieve occasional gas and bloating, use charcoal tablets (available in health food stores). Take 5 tablets as soon as this problem arises. Do not use charcoal daily, however, because it also absorbs needed nutrients, and do not take it at the same time as other supplements or medications.

 

For excessive gas and bloating that lingers, read the section on ENEMAS in part three and follow the instructions for the L bifidus retention enema. This will replace the “friendly” bacteria very quickly and resolve the problem. Exercise, such as stretching exercises, swimming, or walking, is also important.

 

Check to see if you have food allergies, they are important factors in this disorder. Eliminating allergenic foods from the diet relieves symptoms in many cases.

 

Chew your food well. Do not overeat or eat in a hurry.

 

Practice deep breathing exercises. Shallow breathing reduces the oxygen available for proper bowel function.

 

Wear loose-fitting clothing. Do not wear anything that is tight around the waist.

 

Do not eat right before going to bed. Wait one or two hours after eating before lying down.