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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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The typical bowel is a 25 foot long muscular tube (made up of the small and large intestines) that normally contracts in a slow, relaxed, measured way. The bowel becomes irritated when the rhythm of these contractions changes by speeding up or becoming irregular. The result is a painful, chronic and incurable condition known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).


Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as a spastic colon) is a very commonplace and uncomfortable, often painful, condition characterized by bloating, abdominal cramping, mucous passage and alternating constipation or diarrhea. Approximately 15-20% of all North Americans will suffer to some degree from IBS, with the source of and severity differing from person to person.


Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In North America more women than men at a 2:1 ratio suffer from gastrointestinal irritation. The opposite holds true on the other side of the world in India where twice as many men are afflicted. Irritable bowel syndrome can occur at any age and the onset is often precipitated by surgery, infection or long term use of antibiotics. The actual causes of IBS are as yet unknown. Stress and eating seem to be what mainly trigger episodes. Interestingly the clinical research on IBS to date has widely ignored dietary influences. Treatment is aimed solely at relieving the painful symptoms by stress reduction, diet modification and/or antispasmodic medications. Of these options, diet modification specifically increasing soluble fiber intake, has been the most successful for the prevention and relief of IBS.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment

There are foods that especially stimulate or irritate the digestive tract. Any food high in fat, caffeine (including decaf beverages), carbonated beverages and alcohol must be strictly limited or avoided all together. You will also want to reduce ‘insoluble fiber’ foods and instead load your diet with the more tummy friendly ‘soluble fiber’. For clarification insoluble fiber, found in bran and raw leafy vegetables is broken down and absorbed by the body for nutritional use. Insoluble fiber is very hard for the gastrointestinal tract to break down. Soluble fiber is not broken down internally and passes through the body intact, leaving nothing behind for the bowels to object to. Soluble fiber is readily available as a dietary supplementary. Prime examples of soluble fiber foods are rice, pasta, white breads, oatmeal and potatoes.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet

There is an actual Irritated Bowel Syndrome Diet complete with recipes in the Essential Guide for IBS authored by Heather Van Vorous and available in both book form or online. Heather also operates the largest organization for IBS in the world at Only about 10% of people suffering from an irritable bowel seek medical attention which is a shame as relief and prevention are the only options.


Toilet Time: Did you know that the average person upon reaching the ripe old age of 80 years will have spent around 2500 hours or 105 days on the toilet during their lifetime?