You may think you are eating healthy, but what if the healthy foods are the very foods that are upsetting your gut!?! Maybe you are sensitive to a food, but don't realize it, because you have to eat it more than a few times in a row, or in conjunction with another food you are sensitive to... Or maybe the foods you think are healthy are actually bad for you because of additives and hormones added!!!
Hormones in Food Can Be Triggers for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may want to avoid meat that is not hormone free. The intestines in particular are sensitive to hormone changes in the body. An example of this: Many women find their bowels change at different times of their menstrual cycle.
If you are eating meat unnaturally high in hormones, it likely will not help your situation. In fact, it may act as one of the triggers for your IBS.
Where’s the Beef?
I was a vegetarian for nine years because I thought meat was a trigger for my Irritable Bowel Syndrome; I would have a reaction four hours after eating meat.
As a vegetarian, I found it difficult with my active lifestyle to get the protein I needed. I had to eat more carbohydrates than my body needed to get the protein I required, and I had to take supplements for protein and iron because I was borderline anemic. I was heavier then and not as healthy. I’m not saying being a vegetarian wasn’t doable; it just wasn’t easy for me.
Plus, I was taught that eating red meat increases cholesterol levels; all of my family members suffer from high cholesterol. But despite being vegetarian, my cholesterol was borderline high. I worried about how eating meat would affect my cholesterol levels.
Then my husband had me try meat from wild game. It did not affect me at all. That is when I discovered I wasn’t reacting to the meat, but to the hormones and antibiotics in the meat.
I found safe, clean sources of meat and even started raising my own chickens and cattle. Now that I am eating lean, clean meat, my cholesterol is lower than ever. I now believe that red meat is not the cause of high cholesterol or my IBS. Instead, the overfed, hormone-injected, antibiotic-filled meat from stressed-out animals is the true cholesterol-raising, IBS-inducing culprit.
Studies also suggest simple carbohydrates cause high cholesterol. If your diet is deficient in cholesterol-producing foods, your body will convert simple carbohydrates to the cholesterol you need. I was an example of this when I was eating more carbohydrates and minimal cholesterol.
So don’t be afraid of eating foods with cholesterol; instead, pay attention to the amount of foods you ingest that are high in simple carbohydrates. Consuming fewer simple carbohydrates is especially important when you suffer from IBS because simple carbohydrates allow for an overgrowth of the bad bugs in our guts. Carbohydrates are what the bad bugs in your gut eat. If you eat fewer carbs, the bugs starve and fail to flourish, if not die off.
When I do buy meat, I make sure it is organic and from cage-free animals. My favorite is from a local farmer who raises healthy buffalo. He even feeds them grasses from his own fields, making for very healthy and lean meat. I’m sure you can find a butcher shop that knows its meat sources and can vouch for the animals’ living conditions, the quality of their food source, and that they are not injected with hormones.
 Boyles, “Low-Carb Diets Improve Cholesterol Long Term,” WebMD Health News.
AVOID ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS AND PRESERVATIVES
TODAY WE HAVE more access to processed, ready-to-eat foods than ever before. However, just because something is convenient doesn’t mean it’s good for you. When it comes to maintaining good gut health, I advocate avoiding most, if not all, foods that contain significant amounts of artificial flavors and preservatives.
“Real” Food vs. “Fake” Food
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, avoid "fake" food.
I avoid “fake” foods with artificial flavoring or anything artificial in them. I am saddened when I hear that people are trying to be healthy but are misled into eating fat-free foods (which tend to be ultra-high in sugar content and flavor-enhancing chemicals).
Worse, some people use artificial sweeteners “for their health” because they believe these will help them lose weight. Unfortunately, consuming artificial sweeteners and artificial fats often leads to weight gain.
Artificial sweeteners confuse your taste buds, making foods that are good for you taste bad in comparison. Such artificial sweeteners have been scientifically designed to fool our taste buds, and they scream to our brain, “This tastes awesome! I want more!” In nature, if the food tastes good, it indicates that it is a good energy source with vital nutrients. Unfortunately, artificial foods are not a good source of nutrients, unbeknownst to our taste buds.
Natural foods—“real” foods—are not as effective as artificial flavors in activating our taste buds, so they don’t taste as good in comparison. Plus, when your taste buds are overstimulated, the overstimulation cues thoughts of wanting more, so you tend to eat more. Over time, diets high in artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors create deficiencies in essential nutrients; these deficiencies make you crave more food in search of these nutrients.
But if you don’t find and eat nutrient-rich foods, you’ll remain deficient, not to mention you’ll fill your body with more of what it doesn’t need, which often leads to weight gain. You will crave foods that can trigger your IBS, or you will overeat, which strains your GI tract, making you more vulnerable to IBS and GERD. Basically, artificial sweeteners and flavorings interfere with what I call your “full button.”
Ease Up on the Sugar and Salt
Sugar and salt are not evil. They have a bad reputation because manufacturers of processed foods add way too much of these seasonings to their foods. Because we tend to eat more processed, prepackaged foods than we should, that compounds the problem.
We have become accustomed to a very sweet and salty diet. It’s a matter of perception. Try reducing your salt and sugar levels, and after a few weeks, you should be able to taste the salt and sugar in items you never could before. Foods you used to think were plain or tasted bad should start tasting better to you.
Stop the Soda Pop
If you drink soda pop, stop drinking it for a month. Doing so will greatly improve your overall health, including your irritable bowel symptoms. Why?
Soda pop has gross amounts of chemicals (artificial flavors, artificial coloring), sugar, and salt. Soda pop needs copious amounts of sugar to make it taste good, despite the fact that it is super acidic. Without such massive amounts of sugar and artificial flavoring, it would taste as bad as it is for you. Once you drink it, it ruins the taste of all other food. It also messes with your insulin levels, making you hungrier. Diet sodas are even worse because of the ill effects of artificial sweeteners.
After avoiding soda pop for a month, you’ll probably drink more water (which is generally a good habit, especially if you suffer with IBS-C). Additionally, natural, healthier foods should taste better, making it easier for you to eat your “live-it” way because it’s hard to stick to a diet where the food tastes plain or bad.
When you eliminate soda pop, you may find yourself eating healthier, and your body and GI should reflect this. I have had many overweight patients experience dramatic weight loss by simply giving up soda and replacing it with water. I have also had many patients’ IBS symptoms improve when they stopped drinking soda pop.
In addition to all of the ill effects of soda pop I’ve already noted, research has also linked it to osteoporosis in women because it causes the kidneys to urinate more calcium out of the blood. Calcium is needed to maintain strong and healthy bones, especially as we get older, so you don’t want to do anything that makes your body eliminate it.
 Swithers, Ogden, and Davidson, “Fat Substitutes Promote Weight Gain in Rats Consuming High-Fat Diets,” Behavioral Neuroscience.
 Mahmood, et al., “Health Effects of Soda Drinking in Adolescent Girls in the United Arab Emirates,” Journal of Critical Care; Tucker, et al., “Colas, but Not Other Carbonated Beverages, Are Associated with Low Bone Mineral Density in Older Women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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