Diet to counter IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of small intestine characterized by discomfort which is followed by altered bowel habits- hard or soft stools. This condition is not related with the structural deformities. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated manner as they move the food through the intestinal tract to the rectum but in IBS, the contradictions may be stronger and last longer than the normal, causing bloating, gas and diarrhoea or if there are weak intestinal contractions, opposite may occur like—slowing food passages leading to hard and dry stools.  It is one of the most commonly diagnosed functional disorder of the digestive system. This disease will not kill the individuals but the discomfort caused by this illness causes great distress and life of the patient become miserable with fatigue.

According to modern medicine, the cause of IBS is an enteric infection, an inflammatory action of the small intestine, altered food habits, hereditary factors, stress, depression, anxiety etc. But, there is no cure for IBS in the modern medicine.

In Ayurveda, IBS is known as ‘Sangrahani’.Due to the causative factors, Vata dosha especially Samana Vata is affected in the intestines which hinder digestion and absorption strength of the intestines. Pitta dosha is also involved for IBS if there are wrong eating habits.

The causes of IBS according to Ayurveda are

  • Eating before the digestion of previously taken food
  • Excess food intake
  • Wrong eating habits like consumption of junk food
  • Polluted food
  • Unwholesome food
  • Heavy food intake
  • Suppression of the urges
  • Grief/Anger/Fear/Anxiety

IBS is classified as

  • IBS D—where diarrhoea is the predominant symptom
  • IBS C—with constipation
  • IBS A—altering diarrhoea with constipation

Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Buttermilk—Regular intake of buttermilk regularly 2-3 times in a day is effective in curing IBS.
  • Cumin seeds—Cumin seeds and tender leaves of guava are taken and fine paste is prepared. 20 gm of this mixture can be taken with buttermilk regularly. It is quite helpful in reducing the frequency of episodes of bowel habit.
  • Pomegranate—The epicarp (fruit cover) of pomegranate is rubbed well with lemon juice to make a fine paste. This should be taken twice a day with warm water. It helps in restoring the capacity of small intestine.
  • Turmeric- Turmeric powder with plain water on an empty stomach should be taken as it heals the inflammation of small intestine.
  • Ginger—2-3 slices of ginger should be taken with a pinch of rock salt before taking food is quite effective.
  • Include vegetables like— lauki (Lagenaria siceraria) in your diet as these are easily digestible. Easily digestible foods are recommended.
  • Persons suffering from IBS should sleep regularly. Night awakening is not advisable.
  • Patients suffering from IBS C must drink water at regular intervals. Drinking warm water is also recommended.
  • Triphala powder can be consumed at night with water by the patients suffering from IBS C.
  • Take coconut water on regularly basis as it is helpful in balancing Pitta dosha in the body.
  • Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos)—Bael is natural anti-inflammatory which has the property of healing the intestines. Consume bael fruit regularly.

Foods to avoid in IBS

  • Dairy products like—milk, cheese, curd etc.
  • Alcohal
  • Tea/Coffee
  • Fermented foods
  • Canned/Processed foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Spicy food items
  • Foods prepared from refined flour like junk foods, bread, biscuits, bakery products etc.
  • Foods that cause excessive gas production like—cauliflower, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli etc.
  • Suppression of the urges
  • Fasting is not recommended

IBS is also related with psychiatric aspects. A patient suffering from IBS usually suffers from anxiety also. In such a case, along with the efforts to restore digestive health, treatment of depression/anxiety must also be given. For anxiety and depression related complaints, Meditation is the best medicine. It must be done regularly for one hour.

Last drop— When a person is in pink of health, instead of wasting this precious gift with wrong eating habits like—intake of junk foods, worrying too much, living unhealthy lifestyle like—irregular sleeping habits etc., inculcate discipline in the life with right food choices, doing meditation, yoga etc. This proper regimen is quite helpful in keeping the diseases like—IBS at bay.

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