Thousands of people in this country suffer from debilitating digestive problems. Many of those suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a chronic cluster of symptoms including abdominal pain with either constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms are so severe and frequent that they restrict their lives. In fact, most people diagnosed with IBS have to limit their daily activities 73 days a year. That’s one fifth of their lives!
Many people with IBS are at their wits end. A group of patients in a recent study actually told researchers that they would risk dying if they could try a medication that would give them relief.
Unfortunately, few of them are finding any relief. Researchers at the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) found most people don’t like their IBS treatments. In fact, only 8% of their patients were very satisfied with the IBS treatments they had tried. One-third of them weren’t satisfied at all. Clearly, medications to suppress symptoms are not the answer.
Why are all these patients unhappy with their treatment?
I’m convinced that many IBS patients are suffering unnecessarily. That’s because their doctor has misdiagnosed their condition, so they’re getting the wrong treatment.
I suspect that many of them have an inability to digest the protein gluten. For those who have this intolerance, the worst thing they can do is eat wheat or oat bran — the source of fiber. The gluten in these grains will just make their symptoms worse.
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If you have a problem digesting gluten, especially during the holidays when you may eat more foods with wheat, it can cause inflammation in your small intestines. That’s where your body absorbs nutrients. If your small intestine is inflamed, it won’t absorb these nutrients. This could leave you low in vitamins and minerals no matter how well you eat and how many good quality nutrients you take.
So what’s the solution? A permanent gluten-free diet may be your path to wellness. It may not be an easy solution, but it’s simple.
I’ve written a lot about gluten intolerance in the past. These articles include information on how to get tested for gluten intolerance without going to your doctor, and some of the best books on the subject to help you transition into a gluten-free diet. Subscribers to my monthly newsletter can read these on my website at no charge. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up here.
If you have IBS and nothing seems to work, try a gluten-free diet. It has no side effects and you don’t have to wait for the next great medication. Be sure to read food labels carefully. Gluten hides in soy sauce and dozens of other foods and condiments you may be eating. And, of course, it’s not so hidden in Christmas cookies, fruitcake, or stuffing.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand