Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome Could Be Your Body’s Way Of Asking For More Fiber
The medical community treats irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as something that afflicts people like manna from heaven. It seems to come out of nowhere in fits and starts, making their lives a misery.
IBS might not be a life-threatening condition, but it can certainly take its toll on your wellbeing. People living with the affliction often have to spend long bouts on the toilet in the morning, usually in pain. And once they finally get out of the house, they can’t stray too far from the nearest bathroom, just in case.
Besides the logistical problems, IBS comes with a lot of discomfort. The bowel feels bloated and cramped for much of the time, making it difficult to concentrate on work (or whatever else you happen to be doing). And chronic flatulence is an issue in some patients – something that makes social gatherings a challenge.
Medical professionals are often reluctant to ascribe IBS to any particular cause. Typical explanations include things like the patient’s mental state or food allergies. The fact that so many people experience the problem at some point in their lives, though, suggests that it is more universal than that. Why might so many people in the modern world contend with IBS, when hardly anyone in developing countries does? Seems fishy.
The Fiber Hypothesis
Before the industrial revolution, everyone except kings and queens ate a vast quantity of dietary fiber. Estimates suggest that the average person was getting between five and ten times the amount that they get today.
Fiber plays a vital role in digestion. It provides the ballast the muscles in the gut need to push food along towards your rectum. When they have lots to grip onto, the locomotion of stools is easy. But when fiber is lacking from the diet, it becomes much more difficult. Stools don’t bulk up as much, so the gut must work much harder to push them through.
A lack of fiber could explain a host of conditions, like leaky gut and diverticulosis. But IBS seems to correlate with it directly. When people don’t eat enough vegetable matter, they ultimately wind up with the same symptoms we all recognize as hallmarks of IBS: cramping and alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea.
Where To Get Fiber
If the hypothesis is correct, people living with IBS should be able to resolve the condition by focusing their diet on foods that contain lots of fiber. Top of the list is beans, followed by whole grains, and then fruits and vegetables. The average person can often double their fiber intake by replacing their daily cut of meat with a serving of lentils, one of the world’s highest-fiber foods.
Just remember, most of your stools are bacteria. So when you eat fiber, you provide your microbiome with the raw ingredients it needs to create the waste you eventually eliminate. It sounds strange, but the bigger you can make your stools, the better. Eat more fiber for a healthier gut and get rid of your pain.