Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Diet

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Filed Under: IBS, Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment Diet

Learn the details of the “weed and feed” diet to treat irritable bowel syndrome

The idea with the "weed and feed" program as an irritable bowel syndrome treatment diet is to first cleanse the bowels of harmful or large numbers of undesirable bacteria, fungi, yeast, and parasites; heal any damage that has taken place; and then re-establish a healthy population of beneficial bacteria to overcome any irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

Overall it's roughly a two-week program:

Day 1

The weed and feed program for irritable bowel syndrome begins with a 24-hour fast, where ideally nothing is consumed except purified water. (Chlorinated water is not recommended, because it is not particular about which bacteria it kills—even the beneficial types in the bowel.) If you can’t fast on water alone for 24 hours, a homemade vegetable broth or the low-sodium version of V8 juice can be included, but under no circumstances should you add any fruit, juices, or other foods or drinks.

Days 2 and 3

After the first 24 hours, steamed vegetables and light salads can be gradually added to the irritable bowel syndrome diet. (Yeast products, sugar, and starchy foods such as potatoes and rice are not allowed.) Days 2 and 3 begin the "weeding" of your colon as "broad spectrum" natural antimicrobials are added to the regimen. The standard antimicrobial is garlic, preferably fresh—which has been proven effective against eliminating an extremely wide variety of harmful bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses while at the same time sparing the beneficial forms of bacteria. You can achieve these effects by simply consuming two crushed garlic cloves twice daily with your meals.

Other natural antimicrobials can be used either in conjunction with garlic or by themselves during Days 2 and 3 of the weed and feed program for irritable bowel syndrome. One that I've had success with is food-grade hydrogen peroxide, which can be taken three times a day as two drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide mixed with eight ounces of purified or distilled water. (You need to be very careful with hydrogen peroxide. The 35 percent strength is extremely caustic, and will cause serious burns to the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes. Stick with the 3 percent food-grade variety.)

Day 4 and Beyond

Beginning on Day 4, and through the remaining two weeks, you need to heal any damage to the bowel and re-establish the growth and dominance of the beneficial bacteria. In addition to starting on a good probiotic supplement, you can now gradually begin to introduce more and more fresh foods into your irritable bowel syndrome diet.

During this period it is important not to consume sugar, alcohol, caffeine, wheat products, or high-starch foods such as bread, potatoes, and rice. Steamed or stir-fried vegetables are highly recommended—particularly high-sulfur foods such as cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cress, kale, mustard, radish, and turnip. Cabbage is one of the most researched (and also one of my favorites)—steamed, stir-fried, or fermented as sauerkraut. Onions, asparagus, and artichokes are also good choices. Legumes (beans and peas) may also be introduced. Keep in mind, too, that these last few items are higher in fiber—which will be beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome and other bowel problems, but may need to be introduced later if diarrhea is an issue. The timing of when and how much can be eaten will vary from individual to individual.

Meat can also be gradually added (begin with chicken, fish, or lamb), and it is generally easier and best to do so in the form of broths, stews, or soups. Slow-cooked (not instant) oatmeal is a good addition at this point. Dairy products may also be included. Again, start with the fermented ones first (such as yogurt). As you begin to re-introduce different foods into your diet, be alert to any changes in your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. You may have to discontinue certain foods and add them back later when your bowels are in better shape.

More Dr. Williams Advice on Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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