Atkins Diet and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome

At one time or another, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects some 20 million people in the United States each year. Some are bothered by sporadic flare-ups while others may suffer from the chronic form of the condition. The specific symptoms vary with some having only mild problems and others very severe and acute pain. Are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome made worse or better by the Atkins diet? Before this question can be answered, you first need to understand how food normally progresses through your digestive system.

The muscles in your intestines are the heart and soul of your digestive tract. A process known as propulsion propels your food along the gastrointestinal tract using coordinated muscle contractions. There are areas along your digestive tract where propulsion occurs and other areas where the food rests, referred to as regeneration points. Together, this movement and resting of food is known as Peristalsis.

For people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the process of peristalsis does not function properly. The normal rhythm of the muscle contractions malfunctions and produces a number of symptoms, including:

1. Severe abdominal pain
2. Bloating
3. Mucus in stool
4. Constipation
5. Diarrhea
6. Depression and fatigue
7. Nausea
8. Severe heartburn

There are a lot of known factors relating to IBS and most of them have to do with improper diet. In particular, a diet that rich in fatty or fried foods is likely to aggravate symptoms. Those on the Atkins diet need to be sure their food intake does include a lot of saturated fats as these are especially likely to cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome flare ups.

Diets that are low in fiber are also associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is believed that many of the problems associated with IBS are due to elevated levels of toxins within the digestive tract. Diets that are low in fiber tend to produce increased problems with constipation which will lead to feces being backed up in your digestive tract.

More and more toxins are released into your blood stream the longer the feces remain in your body. Prolonged periods of constipation may lead to IBS when toxins are released and damage intestinal muscles. In addition to using a colonic cleanser occasionally, those on the Atkins diet should be sure to include vegetables that are low in carbohydrates but rich in dietary fiber in their meal plan. This will help keep the digestive tract clean, bowel movements regular, and occurrences of Irritable Bowel Syndrome to a minimum.

Finally, laxative abuse is another common source of Irritable Bowel Syndrome flare-ups. Those on the Atkins diet should have no need for laxatives once they increase their fiber intake after the period of Induction. During this initial phase, however, it may be necessary to take fiber supplements to help maintain regularity and avoid the need for laxatives.

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