Soothing the symptoms of IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can make your meals feel like a mine field. But there are some easy strategies to soothe the symptoms and let you enjoy food again.
Symptoms of IBS range from loose stools and diarrhea to constipation. For many of my clients with IBS, the foods on the Fast Metabolism Diet help alleviate some of their symptoms since we avoid many IBS trigger foods like milk/dairy products, wheat, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
For my clients who still have trouble with some foods, there are some additional tweaks and tips I use to help soothe symptoms and get them back on a normal bowel movement schedule.
Cook your veggies
Raw vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus, can trigger symptoms for IBS sufferers. One strategy is to cook, and even puree your veggies. I make a mixed vegetable soup, then puree the cooked soup. Then I can add my protein like chicken, beans or lentils.
Add parsley and cilantro
These two fresh herbs are wonderful digestive aids, helping support the pancreas to break down proteins efficiently. That means fewer large particles of food will reach your lower GI tract, which can trigger IBS symptoms. Add lots of fresh parsley and/or cilantro to your salads, soups, and chili.
Choose vine-ripened fruits
That means shopping at a farmer’s market, where you’re more likely to find freshly picked produce, rather than fruits that were picked unripe, then allowed to ripen later. Fruit that’s fully ripened on the vine has more activated enzymes so they can be more easily digested. Essentially, fruit that’s vine-ripened has already begun the process of digesting itself, giving your GI tract less work to do. These fruits are typically much easier to digest.
Soak your nuts and seeds
Raw nuts can be an irritant for some, but soaking them helps make them easier for the body to break down. In a bowl, cover raw nuts with water and let soak overnight. In the morning, drain and spread on paper towels to dry. Then munch on your nuts and seeds normally.
Add probiotics and prebiotics
I really like cultured vegetables to aid digestion. Fermented veggies like kimchi and sauerkraut are considered prebiotics. Fermentation produces enzymes that encourage the production of healthy bacteria in the gut. Kombucha, a fermented beverage, is another example. All help promote healthy gut flora and ease digestion.
For probiotics, I like my clients to rotate strains found in the refrigerator section of your health food store.
Soak or sprout your grains
Some IBS sufferers have trouble with whole grains (even non-wheat whole grains). Soaking and/or sprouting grains makes them easier to digest. We’ve discussed sprouted grains several times.
Soaking your oats overnight is helpful as well. This article includes a good discussion about soaking oats and other whole grains.