Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS is a common diagnosis these days and little wonder why. The American diet is hardly conducive to good digestive health! IBS is one of those diagnoses that doctors give patients when they’re tired to trying to find the answers to an upset stomach. It isn’t an acceptable diagnosis in my opinion because there’s no “cure” for IBS and there’s also no known cause (according to doctors). In other words, when your doctor says, “You have IBS,” it’s essentially synonymous with saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.”
But IBS isn’t an impossible diagnosis and it certainly isn’t worthy of stepping on the drug treadmill. Doctors will often prescribe anti-depressants to treat IBS. Patients then develop new problems including sexual dysfunctions as a result of the anti-depressant medications. Doctors then prescribe additional drugs with new side effects to combat the sexual issues.
If you think critically about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it seems probable that diet is a leading cause of the problem. Doctors may mention this fact in passing, but patients are rarely given guidance on how to go about making dietary changes that would diminish their symptoms. Years ago, my husband was given a flexible sigmoidoscopy that ultimately showed nothing causing the symptoms he was experiencing (cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating). The doctor indicated that my husband was probably just imagining his symptoms and prescribed an anti-depressant to take care of the problem.
My husband never took the drugs. Instead, we started paying more attention to our diet. For a long time, we couldn’t find anything that was causing his stomach problems. He decided that it was something that he was just going to have to live with. But then, 9/11 happened. Our business went under a couple of months after we bought a new house. We liquidated everything and bought an RV to live out our poverty on the road. We ate a lot of beans and rice.
About a year after we started living in our RV, we noticed that my husband’s IBS symptoms were better. Our diet was much simpler by that time. We ate more one-ingredient foods (like red beans or rice) instead of pre-packaged meals. My husband started noticing stomach problems whenever he ate beef.
After we realized that my husband’s stomach problems were due to beef consumption (or so we thought at the time), we started reading food labels. We cut trans fats out of our diets which made a huge difference in our health, but initially, getting rid of the trans fats actually made us feel sicker. Over the years, we’ve learned that there are certain foods in the United States that are designed to make a person feel worse when they cut them out of their diets. If you’ve never eaten trans fats before and you consume some in small quantities, you’ll probably feel a little bloated and perhaps constipated and then later you’ll have diarrhea. But, if you normally eat a lot of trans fats and then quit eating them, these symptoms may be even worse for a few weeks than when you were eating the trans fats regularly.
Gluten is another ingredient that can cause a lot of woe when you stop eating it. Instead of feeling better, you feel much worse for a period of time as your intestinal flora adjusts. One year after going on a gluten-free diet, our family was still having cyclical bouts of intestinal upsets. These digestive problems mimicked the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and they would last for 3 to 5 days. Then we would feel good for weeks or even months at a time.
The food industry in the United States works intimately with pharmaceutical industries. Our food makes us sick and pharmaceuticals are sold to make us feel good again. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS and you’re looking for alternative treatments, commit to eating a very simple diet for 3 to 6 months as your body detoxifies. Expect to have ups and downs during this time because your body will be going through a healing crisis. Stick with an IBS diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and perhaps rice and chicken, honey or agave nectar in place of sugar, salt and a few spices.