Irritable Bowel Syndrome? 5 Ways Juicing Helps
As with many health problems, doctors and researchers tend to minimize the effect that food has on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is that disruptive digestive disorder that causes chronic symptoms of abdominal pain, urgent bouts of diarrhea and/or the uncomfortable frustration of constipation. If you have IBS, I am guessing you have very strong feelings about what foods you can and cannot eat. And most likely, prior bad experiences may have made you very wary about consuming all those vegetables and fruits that you know are so good for your health.
This is where juicing comes in. My thinking is that if juicing can help Joe Cross to overcome a serious autoimmune disorder and help me to find relief from my every-single-day headaches, then why wouldn’t it be helpful for IBS? Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific studies to provide us with definitive answers to the question. There are, however, lots of stories out there from people who have found that their IBS symptoms improved once they started juicing.
Let’s take a look at my theories as to why that might be so.
- Juicing takes the stress off of your digestive system.
To quote Joe, “Juicing does the digesting for you.” By drawing out the liquid from produce, but leaving much of the pulp behind, your system doesn’t have to work so hard to absorb all those wonderful nutrients found in plant food.
- When you juice, you are taking in more soluble fiber and less insoluble fiber.
In its most recent set of guidelines for treating IBS, The American College of Gastroenterology acknowledges that insoluble fiber, the part of plant food that doesn’t dissolve in water, can worsen IBS symptoms. Juicing appears to take out much of the insoluble fiber, allowing you to experience the health benefits of the easier-to-handle soluble fiber.
- Juicing makes it possible to benefit from raw veggies.
Many people with IBS have found out the hard way that eating raw produce, particularly vegetables, can exacerbate symptoms. Cooking vegetables is absolutely fine, but it is thought that there are some phytonutrients that are lost in the cooking process. Juicing appears to offer you a safer way to benefit from those nutrients, with less worry that you will be triggering IBS symptoms.
- Juicing may be a way to nurture your microbiome.
Your microbiome is the inner world of bacteria and other microorganisms, collectively known as your gut flora, that resides within your intestines. Researchers are finding that this inner world has much to do with how healthy you are. In IBS, it is theorized that the balance of the microflora is off, a state known as dysbiosis. Having more troublesome bacteria and less friendly bacteria can contribute to the pain, excess gas, and regularity problems of IBS. Fruits and vegetables may not necessarily treat dysbiosis, but they are thought to encourage the growth of friendly bacteria. Getting more plant nutrients into your body through the juicing process may result in a healthier bacterial balance and therefore a better functioning digestive tract. Keep in mind that too many fruits in your juice may be detrimental due to their sugar content, so stick with the Reboot recommendation to make your juices 80% veggie and 20% fruit.
- When you are juicing, you are avoiding eating things that are bad for your gut.
The typical Western diet is not an ideal one for the microbiome. Excess amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates can contribute to a state of dysbiosis. Juicing, with its emphasis on the beautiful bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits that nature provides for us, can help you to steer away from the highly processed, sugar-filled, refined flour foods that are seemingly everywhere.
Juicing for IBS Tips:
- Start with low-FODMAP foods.
FODMAPs are carbohydrates within ordinary foods that have been found to trigger digestive symptoms in people who have IBS. FODMAPs are thought to contribute to IBS symptoms because they increase gas and/or liquid into the intestines, causing gas, bloating, pain, and contributing to bowel movement problems. Unfortunately some of the vegetables and fruits that are common in green juices contain some high FODMAP ingredients (think apple in the Mean Green!)When you first start juicing, you may want to choose vegetables and fruits that are low in FODMAPs to ensure that you are not making your symptoms worse. Learn more from this list of high-and low-FODMAP foods. Once you have been juicing for a while, you may be able to broaden your range beyond low-FODMAP choices. Also, not every person with IBS reacts to all FODMAP types, so you can experiment a bit in your juice recipes and assess the effect on your symptoms.
- Add some probiotics to your diet.
Probiotics are strains of bacteria that have been identified as promoting health. Most studies show that probiotics are well-tolerated and can help to improve the health of the microbiome. Probiotics can be taken in supplement form or found in fermented foods.
Learn more about Dr. Barbara Bolen and check out her book, The Everything® Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is based on the knowledge and experience of the writer, is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing and to get clearance before adding juicing to your diet.