Did your holiday feasting give you irritable bowel syndrome?

December 26, 2006
Volume 03    |   Issue 52

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a distressing and uncomfortable disease. Intestinal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea makes it difficult to live a normal and spontaneous life. Some doctors don't know what causes it. Others may tell you it's emotional – that it's all in your head. But a group of British researchers recently found that people with IBS are hypersensitive to a handful of common foods. Some, like ham, are eaten more during the holidays.

The foods that caused IBS reactions were wheat, beef, pork, and lamb. Wheat – and other grains with gluten like barley, oats, rye, spelt, kamut, and triticale – has long been known to cause intestinal problems in many people. But lamb has been considered one of the safest foods you can eat, along with rice and vegetables.

Now, researchers have found that lamb is no longer necessarily a safe food to eat if you have bowel problems. Neither are steaks and hamburgers, bacon, or ham. In fact, the typical American dinner, as well as sandwiches for lunch, appears to be responsible for painful gastrointestinal problems.

What, then, can you eat instead? Chicken, fish, soy products, and seafood for your protein. Potatoes and rice for your starch. These foods, along with tomatoes and yeast, triggered no signs of irritable bowel. Of course, it may vary for you. Anyone can be sensitive to any food or food ingredient.

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The scientists who conducted this study believe that irritation and inflammation in the bowel may have damaged the intestines, causing a hypersensitivity to certain foods. If you suffer from IBS, stop eating all of these trigger foods for two weeks. Then re-introduce them into your diet one at a time every two or three days. Eliminate any that cause reactions. Then treat the underlying inflammation. To help re-establish friendly bacteria, take a strong probiotic twice a day for three to six months.

I've written extensively about inflammation and probiotics in my newsletter. You can find out more about it on my website, where newsletter subscribers have access to all my past articles. The user name and password are in each issue. If you are not already a subscriber, sign up now for this, and other information pertinent to your health.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Zar, S, et al, "Food-specific serum IgG4 and IgE titers to common food antigens in irritable bowel syndrome", American Journal of Gastroenterolgy, July 2005.

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