Health Farming: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When you have cramping abdominal pain, often after food, with alterations in the bowel habit, it may be constipation, or diarrhoea and may lead to flatulence. Small pellets or marble-like faeces often along with mucous and undigested food are passed. It is twice more common in women than men and occurs generally by the middle years of life. People generally develop this syndrome after gastro-enteritis or after a long course of antibiotics.

Emotional stress, certain items of food, large quantities of food intake and certain drugs stimulate larger contractions in the lowest part of large intestine called sigmoid colon. This causes pain in the abdomen and frequent bowel movements. These patients are generally rigid, methodical and more conscientious with obesessive-compulsive tendencies. They often also suffer from depression and hysteria. Abdominal pain is not severe enough to disturb sleep and is often related to meals. The pain in the abdomen is often relieved by passing flatus.

People who have had abdominal pain for years without relief tend to find life stressful, but seeing the psychiatrist does not usually stop the symptoms. Of 182 patients treated by a suitable diet, 122 patients were completely got rid of their symptoms. Routine medical treatment is ineffective. The diet treatment is the best. Fibres must be added to the diet and stressful situations must be avoided. “Exclusion” diet (exclusion of certain foods to which you are allergic) is quite beneficial but it should be done only when certain foods periodically upset the stomach and exclusion really helps. Patients should be taught relaxation techniques. Water treatment, especially abdominal packs, help relieve abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhoea. Exercise and walking help to relax and tone up abdominal muscles and relieve flatulence.


Allergy can cause obesity. Many patients honestly believe that they eat little and still their weight keeps on increasing. It may be true. They may be allergic to food they are eating, which helps to retain water in their bodies. As such the weight does not reduce as desired even after strict dieting.

If allergic to bread or potato or some fruit, as long as you do not detect and exclude it from the diet, it will not let your weight go down even after strict dieting. Allergy to food can cause bad skin and depression. If you are slightly allergic to certain food you can still have it but once in a while say every four days. This is rotational diet of comparatively safe foods. You may increase the frequency if you work harder and increase the resistance of the body.

The Diet

Be sure before you go on to allergy diet that the symptoms are due to food allergy. To be sure you can discuss this problem with a doctor. Be sure that you are fully prepared, determined for a long and tedious treatment. Be careful and observant to co-relate symptoms to certain food or drink. It takes almost 24 hours, sometimes less if extremely allergic. Take the same food for 3-4 days to get familiarised with symptoms if allergy to that food is mild. The symptoms do not cease immediately after stopping the food. It may take 2-3 days to 2-3 weeks for them to subside depending upon the severity of the allergy to a particular food.

Allergy to certain foods is common. Skin rashes and eczema are induced by milk, fish and pulses (moong and gram dal), wheezing and rhinitis (a running nose) by milk, beer, aerated soft drink, oranges and tomatoes. Intestinal intolerance is caused by glutten in the wheat. There are over 3,500 different food additives used in the manufacture of modern processed foods. An aerated drink, tomato sauce, preserved food stuff with an additive could be culprits.

Cooking oil may be the cause. Avoid ghee, butter, ground nut or corn oil. Use soyabean oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil or palmolein oil. In our clinic we tested and found symptoms of allergy in 100 patients – for different foodstuffs.

Egg can be used as a milk supplement where the patient is allergic to milk. In a pure vegetarian diet the problem to decide alternate food is difficult. Most foods that produce allergy are staple items for vegetarians such as bread, milk, cheese, paneer etc. Since the introduction of soya bean products the problem has eased up as soya ben milk, soya cheese, soya curd and soya flour could keep a good protein balance and give variety in food, and keep the diet more balanced and appetizing. Soyabean is the largest reserve source of source of high quality protein currently known. Soya milk has been consumed in East Asia for centuries. It is only in the last 5 years that the sale of industrially produced soya milk and soya cheese has developed into a big business following new processing techniques. Soya cheese has got twice more protein than meat, four times more than egg and 11 times more than cow’s milk.

Many people were found to be allergic to wheat more so to bread where yeast is put into bread to make it rise. Gluten in wheat is known to cause coeliac disease more common in Western world. Many people are intolerant to wheat, it could easily cause an upset tummy. A diet free from wheat, sugar and potato has helped to reduce weight. A few days after diet you will feel more energetic, your craving to eat reduced. The weight will start coming down. Keep a record. Eat plenty of rice, dal, vegetables, curd and fruits. Continue this diet, till you reach normal weight levels.This diet will help those suffering from tummy upset and as a result are underweight. They will get rid of their tummy problem and gain weight.

Exclusion Diet

The basic principle when trying exclusion diet is to stop eating foods that are likely to upset and see whether symptoms get better. Any food can give rise to symptoms of illness though some do it more frequently than the others. Taking the treatment to extreme you may start with a complete fast, that is, eating nothing solid at all for 3-4 days to one week and then slowly adding solid food to the diet item by item. It is better to be done under the close supervision of an expert. Progress in exclusion diet is slow because of the large number of foods that must be reintroduced later. If people have difficult food reactions it will take several weeks to arrange an adequate diet.

To start with we should keep a diary for two weeks and note down the items of food, what time the food is consumed, from morning till night, symptoms and time of their appearance. This diary will help to find out which food to exclude. If you have a new symptom developed or old symptom gone worse you may have to look for the culprit in the food taken 24 hours prior to the emergence of these symptoms.

You may then decide on a diet excluding the foods you suspect to be the cause of allergy. Avoid potatoes, onions, sweet corn, citrous fruits like oranges, sweet limes; cereals like wheat, ghee, corn and vegetable oil; diary products like milk , butter, cow’s milk, curd, cheese, paneer and eggs. Beverages like tea, coffee, aerated drinks, fruits, squashes and alcohol.

You may have a diet consisting mainly of rice (brown will be preferable) dal, vegetables, mutton, chicken, white fish, (avoid shell fish), soya milk, soya cheese. You can innovate other items using arrowroot flour from gram, bajra, sago and soya flour.

Remember, it is essential to continue for two weeks, so that all traces of offending foods disappear from the body. Improvement is rarely seen during the first week. Do not give up. If you have taken a day off from diet, you will have to start from the beginning. The advantage of this diet is that it is healthy., with fresh and whole-some foods. People often lose weight. If they are rather fussy in their likes and dislikes they may lose a little too much.

During the week on record you should eat as wide a variety of “allowed food” as possible. This will help you to notice any unusual food intolerances. Maintain an accurate diary of every food item you eat, the symptoms you have. There will be steady improvement during the second week.

It is very likely that the symptoms will improve tremendously. Continue the diet till you feel completely OK. The list below shows the order of reintroduction: Potatoes, Wheat, Eggs, Onions, Yeast (Bread), Butter, Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Citrous fruits, Corn, Cheese, Shell fish, Curd (yoghurt), Vinegar, Nuts, Preservatives.

You can change the order of introduction. If you know you are sensitive to a certain item, keep it last in the list. How you begin to introduce these foods depends on the condition you are in. For irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, rhintis, migraine one new food item can be introduced every 2 days. For eczema and urticaria a longer period of one week may be necessary. If you have a reaction, stop eating the food you are testing immediately, do not carry on testing new foods

Until completely well again. In any case follow the instructions carefully, do not try to rush. The average reintroduction time is three months. Eat plenty of food you are testing, at least two good helpings a day. If after the last test day there is no ill effect you may assume that the food is safe to eat in normal quantities.

Some foods are made of more than one ingredient. Test the ingredient.concerned before trying the food. For example test yeast before eating bread, or else, if reaction occurs you will not know which ingredient has caused it. It is wise to leave the testing of milk and milk products, until late in reintroduction as milk and its products are fairly common cause of the problem.

Why is wheat allergy not so common in India? May be because we eat chapati. Bread uses yeast. In chapati generally we use whole wheat flour. In bread, white flour is used. Drink plenty of water to flush out chemicals in your system. Do not take pills to relieve any ailment symptoms for that will confuse the matter. If you are confused about a suspect food, do not waste time testing and retesting it, leave it out for 2-3 weeks and come back to it later when the diet is restricted.

After testing and indentifying foods which are likely to upset you, consult a doctor or dietitian to chalk out a judicious diet. Reintroduction is not final. Intolerances can change after an operation, or a course of antibiotics or a long anxiety period. But now it will be easier for you to identify the offending food item that has brought back the symptoms.

How to get rid of the intolerance? A full proof way has not yet been devised. Several methods have been tried such as taking drops under the tongue, desensitization by injecting small doses under the skin. Many people find that after avoiding a particular item for some months it no longer upsets them.

It is better to “rotate” your food. Take all the allowed food. Take few foods today and next day dome other allowed foods. If you take one food item every day and in bulk you are likely to develop allergy to it.

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