How different meals affect your IBS symptoms
I wanted to write an article on how quickly food passes through the stomach in the second main part of the digestive process.
This can help you to decide what to eat depending on what you have got on the ‘to do’ list throughout the day.
Your metabolism, lifestyle, current health conditions, environment and height and weight will make a difference to these times, so please use this information as a general guideline.
You may naturally have a really fast metabolism, be always on the go and living on your nerves; in which case you will want to aim for foods that take a long while to process in order to provide your body with all the energy it needs throughout the day. You may struggle with IBSD (diarrhoea) and want to slow down your bowel, helping to solidify bowel movements and slow down an over-active digestive system.
If your body is quite sluggish, needs a kick start and you have a fairly sedentary lifestyle (think office workers) then you would want to look at fast processing foods that will provide you with high levels of instant energy, pass through quite quickly and promote a faster metabolism. This can really help to prevent constipation (IBSC).
Digestion starts in the mouth, by chewing your food. The more you chew, the easier your digestion becomes. Chewing produces saliva, which helps to break down the food in the stomach. Having food digesting in your stomach helps you feel ‘full’ and ‘satisfied’. Having an impaired digestive system by eating the wrong diet for your body can mean that this feeling intensifies into a ‘bloated’ and ‘painful’ sensation.
Similarly, when the stomach is relatively empty this is where feelings of hunger appear from. Your body may feel like you are ‘craving’ something. **Cravings are usually your body’s way of telling you a particular nutrient is missing from your current intake of food. It could be that you are low in sodium, therefore craving salty foods, you may not have had enough healthy fats in your diet to feed your brain, therefore you are ‘craving’ fatty foods. Or perhaps you haven’t had enough *fruit sugars in your diet, meaning you are reaching for sugary snacks.
To reduce the likelihood of these ‘cravings’ make sure you are eating a healthy and well balanced with each meal ideally consisting of:
- 55% simple and starchy carbs (veg, oats, potatoes, rice, fruit)
- 30% healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, olives, avocado, butter, coconut oil, eggs, oily fish)
- 15% proteins (eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, fish, poultry, meat)
As you can see from our ‘Rate of Digestion’ infographic different foods take different amount of times to pass through the stomach.
This will directly affect how hungry you are, if you have enough energy in your body to complete your daily tasks and whether you feel dizzy, weak and lightheaded or whether you feel tired, sluggish and brain foggy.
As I have previously mentioned, if you are non-stop at work, on your feet all day, choosing a diet that has plenty of whole food, slow release starchy carbohydrates such as oats, rice and potatoes will be the way forward. These starchy carbohydrates will ‘drip feed’ your blood stream all day long with much needed glucose once they have been broken down in the stomach. It will also slow down any IBSD symptoms, helping you produce a more normal bowel movement, giving you more confidence and prevent feelings of weakness, dizziness, hunger and fatigue. Aim for meals like porridge, baked potatoes with salad, chicken curry with rice or even steak and chips.
If you are struggling with IBSC, work mainly in a sitting position, don’t exercise as much as you should do and have quite a sluggish metabolism, eating small meals full of power packed fast acting energy will help your body to remain alert without producing too many taxing enzymes to break down the complex starchy carbs. Meals like fruit smoothies, raw salads, vegetable soups with fish and rice or chicken and potato salad will help to speed up your metabolism, providing your body with the fibre it needs to create good quality bowel movements.
Once the food has passed through the stomach, it is still being broken down in the small intestines and the nutrients are then passed around the body to wherever they are needed the most. This is where useless, unnecessary sugars and fats are moved around the body to be stored as fat for possible future famines.
Now that this process is completed the waste products are moved around the large intestines to be excreted as your bowel movement. I hope this helps you to produce something you can be proud of, that is pain free and showing you that you are doing a good job of feeding yourself with everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Of course, this is a very simplified version of the digestive systems internal processes but it is all you need to know to reduce your IBS symptoms and start to understand the powerful affects the right diet can have on your body.