Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Your colon, or large intestine, the final 3 or 4 feet of your bowel, functions mainly to absorb water from the bowel contents back into the body. The muscular wall of the colon moves the contents along by a coordinated squeezing of one small segment after another along the length in a rippling wave. When the muscles work properly, things move right along. Sometimes, however, the muscle activity becomes uncoordinated and poorly timed, and several segments squeeze down at once, trapping the contents between them; a "spasm" results. People who suffer with a spastic colon will have alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, accompanied by painful cramping and gas.

Irritable Bowel SyndromeThe colon is especially prone to spasm when its contents are not uniform in consistency. By that we mean some stool is compact and dry and some is watery, with pockets of gas residing in between the two. It's almost as though the muscle wall becomes confused, never knowing exactly how tightly to squeeze the contents beneath it. Let's see what nutrition has to offer you in alleviating the symptoms of a spastic colon.

What makes Irritable Bowel Syndrome worse?

• Constipating medications, such as aspirin, codeine and its derivatives, and all narcotic pain medications, worsen the drying of the bowel movement and therefore increase the spasticity of your colon. Recommendation: Take these medications only when absolutely necessary.

• Take care with foods such as cheese that also tend to slow down the passage of food through the bowel, worsen constipation, and may stimulate spasm. Recommendation: Although cheeses offer a good source of complete protein, limit your intake to 1 to 2 ounces of cheese per day, and be certain to keep your fiber intake up as just recommended.

• Avoid mucus-forming foods such as animal fats, butter, carbonated beverages, caffeine, candy, chocolate, dairy products, fried foods, junk foods, margarine, nuts, orange and grapefruit juices, pastries, all processed foods, seeds, spicy foods, sugar, and wheat products. The secretion of mucus prevents the uptake of nutrients.

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