Let’s face it, the topic of bowel disorders isn’t fun at all. From cramps, bloating, irregular bathroom habits, and general discomfort, the health issue can be bothersome. Chances are, you’ve tried a variety of so-called remedies to get your system back to normal. Perhaps you’ve tried laxatives. Maybe you’ve mixed store-packaged fiber powders in your water every day, or dabbled in some old wives’ tales, just to see.
Well, as with most health conditions, nothing beats a healthy diet to improve — if not altogether heal — the problem.
I speak from my own experience. Last year, my stomach hurt every time I sat down or stood up. I also hadn’t had a bowel movement in four days, which is unlike my usual routine. Flash forward to a hospital visit in which doctors determined that my digestive tract was “FOS,” or “full of stool.” I was encouraged to alter my diet. Doing so would get me back to normal within a week. Guess what? I did and it completely worked.
Here’s a closer look at common bowel disorders and the best foods to help remedy them. Be sure to include a variety of them in your diet, depending on the issue at hand. Even when you’re back to normal, consider eating these foods since they’re healthy choices at any time, no just when you’re irregular.
Bowel Disorders and the Foods that Remedy Them
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS involves an ongoing cycle of inconsistent bowel movements (sometimes alternating from constipation to diarrhea over the course of a few days), mixed with symptoms that change often. One day you could have abdominal pain and no bowel movement, the next day you could have excessive bloating or gas only, minus any pain. Then there may be instances where there aren’t any symptoms whatsoever, an inconsistency that is undoubtedly very frustrating.
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans are suggested to help control IBS. However, it’s advised to pay attention to how your body reacts as you eat them. While they play a role in relieving constipation, they may make you too gassy. Therefore, vary amounts so you ultimately find the portions of these foods that are best for you. If dehydration is a concern, turn to nutrient-dense foods like avocado, bananas, peaches and nectarines. It’s all about finding balance.
Avoid prunes, beans, leafy greens, corn and greasy foods as these only bring about more bowel movements and can exasperate the problem. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to gradually introduce semi-solid and low-fiber foods like rice, toast, chicken and crackers. If alcohol or caffeine is your thing, considering holding off during this time because too much of it can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Bananas have also been recommended; they’re rich in potassium which replaces the electrolytes that are usually lost through dehydration.
Difficulty making a bowel movement can be helped by eating plenty of prunes, beans, pears, broccoli and raw carrots (cooking them can actually cause constipation). These foods are fiber-rich, and some contain good amounts of potassium and Vitamin A, which help a person achieve regularity. Pears have even been referred to as “nature’s laxative” due to the fact that they make waste move easily through the intestines.
Drinking plenty of water is also advised when you’re constipated; experts suggest drinking ½ ounce for every pound you weigh.
Diverticulitis occurs when pouches in the lining of your digestive system develop. These pouches disrupt bowel movement habits, and can lead to fever and abdominal pain. Despite popularly-held beliefs, consumption of nuts and seeds do not contribute to the onset of diverticulitis. To combat diverticulitis, choose high-fiber foods like whole grains, fresh fruits and plenty of vegetables.
5. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease occurs when an immune response triggered by gluten alters the way the small intestine absorbs nutrients. Intestinal problems often result, making it essential to avoid gluten which is found in wheat, rye, barley and many soups, salad dressings and lunch meats. Gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, most dairy products, quinoa and buckwheat.
Make the appropriate changes to your diet depending on the changes in your bowel movement habits and you’ll be sure to be on the road to comfort and regularity in no time.
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