Articles on Health
Digestive problems are the No. 1 problem in North
America. These diseases, encompassing everything from
hemorrhoids to colon cancer, result in more time lost—at work,
school, and play—than any other health problem. They also
appear to be occurring with much more frequency—while many of
them were almost unheard of in our grandparents’ times, they
are cropping up more and more and at an earlier and earlier
Irritable bowel syndromeIrritable bowel syndrome, or
IBS, is a common complaint: some 10 to 20 percent of the
population experiences the diverse symptoms this syndrome
causes. IBS goes by several different names. It is also called
spastic colon, spastic bowel, mucous colitis, spastic colitis,
colitis, intestinal neurosis, and functional bowel disease
As its name indicates, it is a collection of symptoms that
can appear in any number of combinations. These symptoms
include bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain
and spasms, and nausea. The pain is often triggered by eating,
so people suffering from IBS don’t always eat enough, which
results in malnutrition.
Most health practitioners agree that there is no set cause
of IBS, and that food allergies, medication, stress, hormone
changes, low fiber intake, infection, parasites, lactose
intolerance, laxatives, and antibiotic abuse could all be
involved. In fact, the consensus is that just about anything
that disturbs our intestinal bacterial balance—the ratio of
good bacteria to bad bacteria—could have a hand in causing
IBS. IBS is not serious in that it is not life-threatening;
however, it makes for a very uncomfortable life.
In IBS, the normal rhythm of the muscular contractions of
the digestive tract becomes irregular and uncoordinated—the
body’s digestive system usually churns along like a good
washing machine, but in IBS, the "wash cycle" is irregular,
and this interferes with movement of food and water. This
means that the food, instead of "rinsing out" of the body
efficiently, accumulates in the digestive tract, which, in
turn, leads to the accumulation of mucus and toxins in the
intestines. The result of this is that gas and stool do not
flow freely, and, viola, the above-mentioned symptoms
begin to appear.
Because many of the IBS symptoms are the same as those
found in more serious digestive problems (such as Crohn’s
disease and ulcerative colitis), the first thing to do is to
eliminate the possibility that the symptoms are related to one
of these. After you and your health practitioner are sure that
your problem is IBS, action can be taken.
Many health practitioners feel that food allergies are the
main cause of IBS and recommend being tested for allergic
reactions to foods. Foods that trigger allergies include
cheese, milk, chocolate, butter, coffee, eggs, and nuts.
Controlling food allergies often controls IBS.
Dietary changes can help relieve symptoms. Avoid animal
fat, butter, carbonated drinks, chocolate and candy, dairy
products, fried foods, sugar, food additives, alcohol, and
tobacco. Most health practitioners recommend a high-fiber diet
and supplementing with a bulking fiber like psyllium. Drinking
plenty of water is also important.
Helpful supplements include aloe vera, peppermint,
chamomile, melissa, valerian, ginger, and chaste berry
Diverticular disease is common among the older set.
Estimates are that 30 to 40 percent of North Americans over
age 60 have this problem.
Diverticula are pea-shaped pouches that forms in the colon
wall. The underlying cause of diverticula is constipation: the
pressure that straining produces causes pouches to form at
weak points in the colon.
Diverticulosis is the condition of having diverticula
present. This condition is usually symptom-free, and most
people do not realize they have it. However, for a few people,
diverticulosis results in spasms and pain.
If the pouches become inflamed or rupture, the condition is
called diverticulitis. This generally occurs when waste matter
is trapped in a pouch. Diverticulitis can result in pain and
fever. It may require surgery.
For diverticulitis, antibiotics and a soft-fiber diet are
initially recommended, with a switch to a high-fiber diet as
progress is made.
The key to preventing diverticulosis and repeat incidences
of diverticulitis is diet. In the past, a low-fiber diet was
recommended. Today, experts recommend a high-fiber diet—at
least 30 grams of fiber a day. Especially good is a bulk and
stool-softening fiber such as psyllium. Plenty of water should
Stay away from eating nuts, grains, and seeds, but
well-cooked brown rice is helpful. Eliminate dairy products,
red meat, sugar, fried foods, and spices from the diet. Get
plenty of leafy greens, and do not overuse laxatives as they
can irritate the colon wall. Probiotics—"friendly" bacteria or
the food that feeds them—and aloe vera are also recommended.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) encompasses two serious
problems: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These two
diseases are similar but have different characteristics. They
also share many of the symptoms of IBS.
.Diet plays an important role in IBD. Epidemiological
studies have shown that populations that consume plenty of
fiber and a minimum of sugar rarely experience IBD. There is
also a positive correlation between cigarette smoking and fast
food and IBD.
IBD is considered an autoimmune disease—that is, the
body’s immune system attacks itself. There is no set cause of
IBD. Theories center around infection, hypersensitivity to
antigens (the body components that stimulate the immune
system) in the gut wall, inflammation of blood vessels that
results in less blood getting to tissue (ischemia), and food
sensitivities. These causes may be interconnected.
IBS can result in abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea,
fever, rectal bleeding, constipation, and weight loss..
Ulcerative colitis is the continuous inflammation of
the mucosal lining of the colon and/or rectum. Once this
inflammation is established, it remains forever. Ulcerative
colitis can be quite mild or very severe. The most common
symptoms are diarrhea and bleeding.
A correct diet is important in combating ulcerative
colitis. Because it may be partially due to food
sensitivities, you should keep a daily record of foods and how
they may affect you. In general, you should eat plenty of
vegetables. If you cannot tolerate them raw, steam them. A
high-fiber diet is beneficial, as is consuming plenty of
garlic and drinking at least eight glasses of water a day. You
should avoid carbonated drinks, spicy foods, and caffeine.
Chron's disease also results in
inflammation, but it can occur anywhere from the mouth to the
rectum. It usually occurs in the colon near the ileocecal
valve, which separates the contents of the small intestine and
colon. The inflammation in Crohn’s disease goes much deeper
than that in ulcerative colitis, and it can result in
abscesses and fistulas (a narrow passage formed by disease or
injury, as one leading from an abscess to a free surface).
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease include chronic diarrhea, pain
in the abdomen, fever, headaches, malabsorption of nutrients,
and loss of energy, appetite, and weight. "Nondigestive"
symptoms include canker sores in the mouth and clubbed
Crohn’s disease strikes when its victims are at a young
age: between the ages of 14 and 30, and it is becoming
increasingly prevalent in children. Attacks occur every few
months to every few years, and, if attacks continue, long-term
bowel function may deteriorate and the risk for colon cancer
increases some 20 times.
According to Francisco Contreras, M.D., non-complicated
Crohn’s disease responds to garlic, vitamin A, and beta
carotene, and diets that avoid the consumption of well-known
allergenic substances found in wheat, milk, corn, and
Dietary recommendations include eating nonacidic fresh or
cooked vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts,
cabbage, carrots, spinach, and garlic. As always, plenty of
liquids should be consumed and the "usual" foods avoided:
refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated
beverages, and red meat. Probiotics may aid in digestion, and
aloe vera may soften stool. Stress is also a factor, so it is
important to keep stress levels down. Studies have also
indicated that fish oil may limit reoccurrences.
Leaky gut syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is the name given for the condition that
allows larger food particles to pass through the gut wall.
Ordinarily, only properly digested food permeates through the
intestinal wall. When this wall is damaged, larger particles,
such a partially digested food and toxins, pass through. The
body does not recognize them and activates the immune system
to search and destroy. The result is inflammation.
Leaky gut syndrome is linked to autoimmune diseases such as
arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and
IBD. Many health practitioners see leaky gut syndrome as the
underlying cause of many food allergies and food sensitivities
because the body begins to recognize many types of food as
foreign. When food slips through the intestinal wall, the body
automatically goes into attack mode. Eventually, the body
habitually recognizes these foods as the "enemy," and every
time you eat them, the body reacts—you have a food
There is no single cause of leaky gut syndrome.
Antibiotics, caffeine and alcohol, chemicals and other
environmental pollutants, stress, poor diet, parasites, yeast,
and bacteria could all contribute to a leaky gut.
Many health practitioners recommend a hypoallergenic diet.
Sugar, white flour products, wheat, oats, dairy products,
high-fat foods, alcohol, and foods often linked to
sensitivities and allergies must be eliminated for periods of
time to see if problems result. If so, they should be
eliminated from your diet.
How you eat is also important. Chew food more thoroughly
and attempt to eat frequent small meals instead of a few large
Natural antibiotics such as echinacea, garlic, and
colloidal silver may be helpful, as well as probiotics.
Candidiasis is a fungal infection. It is caused by
candida albicans, bacterium that is found in small
amounts in nearly everyone. When the bacteria multiple, they
can cause health problems. Most of us know this condition by a
number of names: Candidiasis is called a yeast infection in
the vagina, a fungal infection in the fingernails, and thrush
in the throat. What many of us do not know is that candidiasis
is indeed a digestive problem.
C. albicans can colonize the digestive tract. When the
colonies grow unchecked, they produce powerful toxins that are
absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxins then travel
throughout the body, resulting in many different symptoms.
These include abdominal bloating, anxiety, constipation,
diarrhea, depression, environmental sensitivities, fatigue,
food sensitivities, fuzzy thinking, insomnia, low blood sugar,
mood swings, PMS, recurring vaginal or bladder infections,
ringing in the ears, and sensitivities to perfume, cigarettes,
or fabric odors. C. albicans also affect the immure
system, hormone balance, and the thought process.
C. albicans grow out of control when the friendly
bacteria that keep them in check are destroyed. This can
happen because of antibiotics, birth control pills, and
To control C. albicans, look first to your diet.
Stop consuming dairy products (except yogurt), red and
processed meats, yeast-based food such as breads and pastries,
alcoholic beverages, dried fruits, mushrooms, and products
containing sugar and vinegar. You should consume pre and
probiotics (which are the food that feeds the friendly
bacteria and the friendly bacteria themselves) and eat foods
such as yogurt, which contain friendly bacteria. Certain foods
and supplements can kill C. albicans. These include
garlic and grapefruit seed extract.
When C. albicans are killed, they often produce a
"detoxification" type response, which is often worse than the
symptoms. This is known as the die-off reaction or the
Herxheimer reaction. Because of this, you should begin any
program that controls C. albicans slowly.
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