By Jessica, Pure Matters
IBS affects at least 25 million people in this country, and women account for 2/3 of the sufferers. While the exact cause of this illness isn't yet known, strides have been made in learning how to manage it. Whether you have IBS, or you could just use a little help in the digestion department, read on for some eating advice that will help you run a little more smoothly.
Your digestive tract hates red meat. Period. It contains no fiber, hard-to-break-down proteins, and too much saturated fat. I'm all about everything in moderation, but if you eat a lot of red meat and you have a lot of problems with digestion, it might be time to give the turkey burger a chance.
A cup of coffee in the morning isn't just waking up your brain -- it's stimulating every part of you, including your digestive tract and colon. And if you're someone who is already stimulated enough in that area, you aren't doing yourself any favors by reaching for the caffeine. Unfortunately, caffeinated tea isn't much better. Exercising, showering or having breakfast right after waking are three great ways to get yourself going naturally.
A glass of wine a day may be good for your heart, but it may wreak havoc on your digestive tract. Alcohol irritates the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, which can cause diarrhea. Some IBS medications can put a strain on your liver, too, which makes it harder for your body to process alcohol. Again, everything in moderation, but if you have any digestive issues, don't drink on an empty stomach.
When someone mentions "probiotics," what do you think of? If you said "yogurt," you're not alone. The truth is, though, lots of people have problems digesting dairy, and that includes yogurt. So where's a digestion-challenged person to get probiotics if not from yogurt? So many places! You can take a supplement for one, but also, most fermented foods have the same beneficial bacteria that yogurt has. So load up on that miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and kombucha.
Fresh ginger root stimulates digestive enzymes and reduces inflammation, which is why it's long been used as a digestive aid. (Ginger ale, anyone?) Add ginger to stir-fries, sautés, and any Asian-inspired meal, or sip fresh ginger tea -- about one half-inch of ginger grated and steeped in boiling water -- alongside a meal.
High-Fiber Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to IBS sufferers, fiber can be a tricky issue to contend with. Soluble fiber -- the kind that comes from whole grains like oatmeal, beans, lentils and starchy vegetables -- can help keep your digestive tract on track in a kinder way than soluble fiber, the type found in broccoli, cauliflower and garlic. Both types are important to overall digestive health, but with the latter, start small and gradually increase the amount.
The bottom line, though, is that everyone's different. Some people's digestive tracts thrive on broccoli and yogurt, while others can't even handle a little bit of garlic. The most important thing to do is to listen to your body. If something you're eating or drinking is making you sick, cut down on it or eliminate it entirely. Sometimes, just giving your body a break from a food that doesn't agree with it for a while is enough to heal whatever's ailing you.