What you eat affects every system in your body, with the most obvious being the digestive system. Diets heavy on fat and sugar but low on nutrients can lead to some unpleasant gastrointestinal consequences. What you eat is even more of a concern if you already have a digestive condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining. If you're considering changing your diet or trying an alternative treatment for these conditions, contact your doctor before getting started. Natural remedies can cause side effects and unsafe interactions with other drugs.
Foods for IBS
IBS causes a significant amount of discomfort with symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. While certain foods, such as chocolate or fried foods, may aggravate symptoms, others can reduce the effects of this condition. Dieticians Barbara Lattin and Lisa Cicciarello Andrews of the University of Cincinnati recommend following a high-fiber diet for IBS. Eating soluble fiber sources may be easier on your digestive system; such foods include asparagus, sweet potatoes, lima beans, apricots, mangoes and oatmeal. If lactose in dairy products triggers symptoms, eat reduced-lactose options like low-fat yogurt.
IBS Natural Remedies
Peppermint oil may relieve the GI symptoms commonly associated with IBS, particularly cramping and intestinal gas. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that taking 0.2 mL to 0.4 mL of oil three times a day in an enteric-coated capsule form may provide relief. Probiotics, good bacteria that support digestive health, may also be a beneficial option. Taking five to 10 billion CFUs a day of a supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium may relieve gas and constipation.
Foods for Gastritis
Infection, virus, autoimmune disease and vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia cause gastritis. As with IBS, stick with high-fiber foods to alleviate symptoms and choose low-fat options. Foods containing flavonoids can also be helpful. Flavonoids function as antioxidants in the body, fighting cell damage and reducing inflammation. Good sources include cranberries, apples, celery, onions and garlic.
Natural Remedies for Gastritis
Because of peppermint's well-known benefits for soothing an upset stomach, taking a peppermint oil supplement may help alleviate gastritis. Use an enteric-coated supplement to keep the oil from causing heartburn. Cranberry supplements -- often associated with urinary health -- play a role in preventing Helicobacter pylori growth, a known cause of gastritis. The proposed effective dose is 800 mg a day, divided into two doses, the University of Maryland Medical Center advises. If you have symptoms of gastritis, get tested for H. pylori because chronic infection with this bacteria increases your risk of developing stomach cancer.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Virginia Digestive Health Center; Irritable Bowel Syndome (IBS) - Nutrition Considerations; June 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gastritis
- The Linus Pauling Institute; Antioxidant Activities of Flavonoids; Donald R. Buhler, Ph.D., Cristobal Miranda, Ph.D.