Irritable Bowel Syndrome, sometimes misdiagnosed as colitis, is a functional disorder of the large intestine that results in abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation. Surprisingly, IBS affects up to 20% of the population, mostly women, and is the 2ndbiggest cause of work/school absence due to illness (the common cold is 1st).
While IBS doesn’t cause permanent damage to the large intestine (as is found with colitis), it can still cause a great deal of unnecessary pain, suffering, and embarrassment.
Here are some of the known causes:
- Emotional stress
- An overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine (for example, increased incidence is found after a course of antibiotics)
- Female hormones (symptoms can worsen during menstruation)
- Certain foods (chocolate, dairy, coffee, refined carbohydrates, fructose)
- Excessive gas
And, some of the symptoms:
- Abdominal pain (may be constant, or, may be intermittent)
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation
- Excessive gas and bloating
- Mucous in the stool
According to the principles of Ayurveda, a person suffering with IBS is dealing with stress or trauma that has caused the parasympathetic nervous system to shut down – essentially stopping the circulation of the digestive system, and thereby increasing tension in the abdominal area.
As we have discussed before, many illnesses are caused by imbalances in the body.
In order to rebalance the “doshas,” various “gunas” (qualities of food like “hot” or “cold”) must be either added or eliminated from the diet. In the case of IBS, the guna “easy” (meaning easy to digest) should be added to the diet.
Here is a list of easy-to-digest foods that are known to help individuals dealing with the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
- Almond milk – said to build strength, calm, and immunity in the body
- Apple cider vinegar – increases the flow of bile from the gall bladder, aids in digestion, and helps the body to digest fats
- Arugula – is easy to digest and helps the body assimilate nutrients
- Avocado – said to be grounding and calming and, when combined with other foods, it helps to aid metabolism
- Bananas – works to replenish your body’s electrolytes and helps calm the digestive system. When paired with lime, ginger, or cardamom, banana is even easier to digest
- Barley – soothes irritated, inflamed bowels
- Cinnamon – anti-microbial properties help to reduce gas
- Ginger – stimulates metabolism and aids digestion
- Hemp Seeds – soothes the nervous system, increases motility, and reduces gas and bloating
- Quinoa – soothes the digestive system and serves as an anti-inflammatory
- Summer squash and zucchini – alleviates constipation, very easy to digest, pairs well with ghee
- Mint – cleanses and reduces gas, prevents muscle spasm of the digestive organs
Some additional healing herbs and spices that may be added to your diet are:
Saffron, poppy seed, cardamom, cumin, cloves, chamomile, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and nigella seeds (black cumin)
People suffering with IBS typically have an aggravated “Vata” dosha, and too much of the gunas “dry” and “difficult.” In other words, these individuals should do their best to avoid the following foods:
- beans and legumes
- cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- corn and corn products
- dairy products
- meat and meat products
- wheat and wheat products
As much as the symptoms of IBS are not desirable, it is reassuring to know that, with a proper diet, stress management (try yoga or meditation), and moderate exercise, a large number of people can effectively manage their condition and all but eliminate their symptoms. This is very encouraging news, and, further testament to the fact that we are only as healthy as the food we eat.
Lastly, thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it!
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