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Ask Heather ~ Breaking the IBS Cycle

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January 11, 2005

This week - Special Getting Started Issue!

Hello to everyone -

As we start the new year, many people have made the resolution to finally find a way to get their IBS under control - or to regain control after holiday indulgences. So this issue is dedicated to helping folks do just that! We'll talk about how to quickly break the cycle of IBS attacks and stabilize your gut, and we're featuring two special high soluble fiber recipes that will help normalize bowel function (they're delicious, too). Best of all, we've got the brand new Heather's IBS Cheat Sheet that's made just for downloading and saving onto your desktop for instant entry into the full community, sharing with anyone else who needs it, and for printing out for easy reference! As always, we've also got the latest IBS news and research.

In our next issue, we'll follow up to make sure you stay stabilized but are able to safely expand your diet to include more insoluble fiber, and we'll have updates to our incredible list of IBS friendly brand name foods. We'll also revisit the popular Seven Sneaky Sins of the IBS Diet, so you know exactly how to avoid the most common pitfalls and stay on safe ground once you've gotten there.

Here's a big welcome home to all of the new people, and good luck to everyone as you begin (or continue) a way of life that lets you take control your IBS. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

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Banana Mango Breakfast Pudding

Breakfast is often the trickiest meal of the day for IBS, for several reasons. Your stomach is completely empty, and you're probably a little stressed if you're in a hurry to get out the door. You may also be tired because you haven't gotten enough sleep, making your digestion even touchier than usual. This recipe makes a deliciously tropical treat that's not just delicious, it's also a safe high soluble fiber foundation for your day.

Makes 6 Servings

1 C uncooked short grain white rice, such as sushi rice
2-4 T Acacia Tummy Fiber (optional)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 C brown sugar
4 C vanilla soy or rice milk
1 firm ripe banana, diced
1/2 small ripe mango, skin and pit removed, diced

Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain. In a large saucepan or stockpot add rice and all remaining ingredients except banana and mango, stirring well. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, uncovered, and contiue to simmer gently, stirring until rice is tender and begins to disintegrate, about 30 minutes. If pudding becomes too thick add a little more soy or rice milk as necessary. Remove pot from heat, let pudding cool a bit, and fold in banana and mango. Serve warm or cool.

Honey Glazed Snack Mix

This mix is crunchy, sweet, and salty all at once, and is a delicious way to stabilize if you're in the midst of a cycle of attacks. Just snack on handfuls all day long, and you'll keep your gut filled with soluble fiber. I love to make big batches of it and keep bags at work for safe afternoon munchies.

Makes 10 Half-cup Servings

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cups Corn Chex cereal
2 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup mini pretzels

In a small bowl stir together oil and honey until well blended. In a large bowl stir together cereals and pretzels, top with honey mixture, and stir until well combined. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring well every 90 seconds, until cooked through. Cool thoroughly before serving. If you can't find Corn Chex or Rice Chex cereals, Crispix cereal works just as well!

For oodles of other delicious recipes, come visit the IBS Recipe Exchange board!

Are you just learning how to eat for IBS? A little intimidated at the thought of special IBS recipes? Not quite sure just what makes these recipes special in the first place? Don't worry! Come see the IBS Diet pages, and find the answers to all your questions.

IBS Diet Kit 2
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Here's the immediate, tangible help you need to take control of your IBS symptoms through diet! Includes the book Eating for IBS, Acacia Tummy Fiber, and Peppermint Oil Capsules. Normalize both constipation and diarrhea, reduce bloating & gas, and prevent painful spasms!

divider Heather's IBS Cheat Sheet - Post it, Print it, Take it With You!
For everyone who's just getting started with the IBS diet, here's the perfect way to stay in touch with the whole IBS community at, and to keep the dietary information you need right at hand! There are three great ways to use the brand new Heather's IBS Cheat Sheet.

Just download the PDF onto your desktop, and you'll have instant links to comprehensive IBS dietary information and hundreds of IBS safe recipes, the question and answer forum of the IBS Message Boards, a way to shop for IBS, get IBS news, drug and research articles, and tons more! Plus, the cheat sheet is meant to be shared with people who need it, so please feel free to post the PDF document as a whole on your own website, blog, or elsewhere if you think it will be of help to others.

Finally, Heather's IBS Cheat Sheet is meant to be printed out, so you can carry the info with you, tape it up on the fridge at home, keep a copy in the car for tips when traveling, etc. This is your instant guide to safe foods, trigger foods, the 10 Commandments of Eating for IBS, and other crucial diet information - now right on your desktop and at your fingertips!
divider Family Docs Unaware of IBS Diagnostic Criteria
A recent study in Digestion aimed to find out if the symptom-based criteria, including the Rome II Guidelines, that have been introduced to aid the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome are actually used in routine clinical practice. The study found that approximately 80% of General Practitioners had no knowledge of any of the specific criteria, and only 4% had ever used them. The majority of hospital specialists did have knowledge of the criteria, with 70% having used them. Go here for more information about this study...

Stress Increases Visceral Sensitivity in IBS Patients
Acute stress appears to alter gut-specific efferent autonomic innervation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and in healthy controls. However, UK researchers report that only IBS patients show heightened visceral sensation.

"Stress is an important causative factor in IBS," Dr. Anton V. Emmanuel, of St. Mark's Hospital, Harrow and colleagues note in the December issue of Gastroenterology. However, "it remains unknown whether stress-related changes in gut function are mediated by altered autonomic efferent gut-specific innervation."

The researchers examined the effect of acute physical and psychological stress on autonomic innervation and visceral sensitivity in 24 patients with constipation-predominant IBS and 12 healthy controls. Go here for more information about this study...

Looking for safe and healthy ways to manage stress-related IBS? Learn about gut-directed hypnotherapy.

IBS Colonoscopy: Painful and Difficult?
Hyperalgesia induced by pelvic colon distension has been demonstrated in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In this recent German study the authors analyzed whether colonoscopy of patients with IBS is more painful and technically more demanding as compared to non-IBS patients. They concluded that, regarding the perception of procedure-related pain and technical problems in colonoscopy, patients with IBS do not show significant differences compared to patients without IBS. Go here for more information about this study...

Higher Fiber Diet Shown To Reduce Estrogen Levels
An international team of researchers at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, has demonstrated that women with a higher intake of dietary fiber have lower circulating estrogen levels, a factor associated with lower risk of breast cancer. They say their findings, which offer direct evidence of the association between fiber and the hormone, could lead to a dietary strategy for lowering a woman's risk of breast cancer.

Earlier a Swedish team reported that postmenopausal women in the highest quintile of fiber intake had a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest. Combining high fiber with a low fat diet reduced the risk even further. Go here for more information about this study...

New Risk for Asthma, Allergy Found in the Gut
A recent University of Michigan study says changes in the bacteria and fungi (microflora) in the gastrointestinal tract may intensify immune system response to common allergens inhaled into the lungs. This can result in an increased risk of developing chronic asthma or allergies.

"Our research indicates that microflora lining the walls of the gastrointestinal tract are a major underlying factor responsible for the immune system's ability to ignore inhaled allergens. Change the microflora in the gut and you upset the immune system's balance between tolerance and sensitization," study author Gary Huffnagle, an associate professor of internal medicine and of microbiology and immunology, said in a prepared statement. Go here for more information about this study...

Looking for comprehensive IBS research and news?
Check here in the IBS Research Library!

IBS Peppermint Caps
Peppermint Oil Caps Are Amazing!

I think Peppermint Oil Caps are truly unbeatable for abdominal spasms, cramps and pain. Our caps also have fennel and ginger oils, for extra digestive benefits!

divider Breaking the Cycle of IBS
"I really need to break the cycle of IBS and stabilize as quickly as possible. How do I do that?" ~ Laurie Akron, Portland, Oregon

Dietary changes can make a dramatic difference to IBS in a very short period of time, as can adding in a soluble fiber supplement and digestion-friendly herbs. Direct heat, specific yoga poses, and extra sleep are also important. You may need to use just one approach or a combination, depending on your symptoms, but you should absolutely be able to take control and feel much better in a very short period of time. It's interesting to realize that natural (as opposed to drug) approaches to IBS tend to be universally helpful for all symptoms. The same dietary changes, yoga poses, and herbal teas can alleviate diarrhea and constipation, pain and bloating. So even if you've been struggling for years, these avenues of help can make you feel better almost immediately - have hope!

Diarrhea and pain, spasms, and cramps should almost completely resolve in just a few days from dietary changes and peppermint. Bloating and gas respond very quickly to helpful yoga poses and fennel, and long-term relief can come from a prebiotic soluble fiber supplement. Constipation, especially if it's been long-term and chronic, can take a few weeks to truly resolve, though you should definitely see improvements along the way. Constipation typically needs a combination of dietary changes, the higher end doses of a soluble fiber supplement, and daily yoga activity (or vigorous exercise) plus plenty of water or herbal teas - so if you're IBS-C, please hang in there and have the patience for your body to begin functioning normally.

The goal of breaking the cycle of IBS is to gently force your gut's motility into a normal pattern. If you have IBS, then by definition your gut motility is dysfunctional, as your gastrocolic reflex (which controls colon contractions) is prone to going awry. A terrific way to break the cycle of IBS for all symptoms, and stabilize your gut motility quickly, is to really restrict your diet for a few days (and only a few days - this is a short-term diet only) to nothing but soluble fiber foods and start using a soluble fiber supplement.

Soluble fiber will stabilize the GI contractions that are going haywire with IBS and causing pain, spasms, and cramps. Plus, soluble fiber will normalize bowel function from either extreme (diarrhea or constipation). So, for just a few days stick to high soluble fiber foods like plain white rice, plain instant oatmeal, cream of rice cereal, dry corn or oat or rice cereals, pasta, fresh white breads or toast, peeled potatoes or root veggies, etc. This is boring, I know, but it's just for a few days, and the recipes above are good examples of ways to make high soluble fiber foods delicious.

Make sure you've added in a prebiotic soluble fiber supplement like Acacia Tummy Fiber - getting extra soluble fiber right now is critical. Start with just 1/2 level teaspoon twice a day, and then gradually increase. Have plenty of fresh water or the herbal teas with your supplement and in between meals - for soluble fiber to normalize your bowel function you must drink enough water. For constipation especially, you should drink twice as much water as you probably think you should. Try to aim for at least 128 ounces of water each and every day - this can make a world of difference, and though you may be running to bathroom a lot at first, your bladder will adjust, I promise.

Along with all of the soluble fiber, lots of strong hot peppermint tea (if you're prone to acid reflux, try fennel or chamomile instead of mint) will also help get your gut motility back to normal. Peppermint is a powerful muscle relaxant and a painkiller - it's a miracle worker for cramps and spasms. Fennel is the best for bloating and gas - it can really, dramatically help. Both peppermint and fennel will function as digestive aids overall, so both of them are suitable for diarrhea or constipation - it's your choice.

Try to be mildly active, even if you're just moving around the house or lying on the floor and stretching, as gentle exercise will work the muscles of the bowels and help get them back into a pattern of normal contractions. Walking or a gentle yoga practice is ideal. Please be aware that while exercise is especially crucial for constipation, it's also necessary for keeping all IBS symptoms at bay. Your gut simply can't function normally if you live a completely sedentary life.

Take advantage of heat - direct heat is a terrific muscle relaxant and stress-reducer. Try using hot packs on your lower abdomen or back, sit in a jacuzzi or steam bath, or just take a long hot shower. Do everything you can right now to get extra sleep - try to fit in daily naps, go to bed early, or sleep in late. Lack of sleep directly correlates to increased IBS symptoms, so breaking the cycle of IBS requires plenty of rest and relaxation - now is the time to treat yourself with plenty of self-indulgence. With IBS, you can't beat, purge, or cleanse your colon into submission. Instead, just gently and consistently direct your gut towards normal motility. Your health depends on you taking proper care of yourself, so make this a priority - you're worth it!

After a few days, you should be feeling much better, and your gut will be much more stable. Now you can start cautiously expanding your diet - the recipes from Eating for IBS for zucchini, banana, pumpkin breads work well here, and so does the jok rice porridge soup. Begin to incorporate insoluble fiber foods - carefully! - by blending fresh fruit with soy or rice milk into smoothies, and blending cooked veggies into soups or pasta sauces. Have the fruit smoothie with rice cereal or oatmeal, and the soup with rice or polenta. Try a bit of grilled fish or skinless chicken breast with your pasta/rice. If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for safe treats, try the recipes from Eating for IBS for vanilla or chocolate puddings, peppermint fudge cake, banana cream pie. The key rules here are to keep your fat content low and be extra careful with insoluble fiber. Please note that being careful with insoluble fiber does not mean don't eat it at all - it means eat it while taking precautions. Confused about soluble vs. insoluble fiber? Use your IBS Cheat Sheet!

Gradually increase your soluble fiber supplement and slowly work your way up to about 15 grams a day, more or less as you feel you need it (constipation might require higher doses). As you stay stable, you can expand to all the other IBS-safe recipes, and just follow the general guidelines: low fat, no triggers, careful with (but do eat!) insoluble fiber. You'll now be back to a healthy diet overall and not just plain soluble fiber, and your gut should stay stable. You should always continue to make soluble fiber the basis of your diet, though, and have those foods as the foundation of all your meals and snacks. Also keep up your yoga poses, get enough sleep, and drink plenty of peppermint or fennel tea as well - these will all help maintain the normal gut motility you've just worked so hard to attain.

~ Heather

Heather's Tummy Store for IBS
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divider Heather & Company for IBS, LLC is dedicated to serving people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Our mission is to provide education, support, and products that allow people with IBS to successfully manage their symptoms through lifestyle modifications.

We offer extensive information and tangible help for IBS, including the world's best-selling and best-reviewed books for the disorder. We provide the internet's top IBS web site resources; a twice-monthly IBS Newsletter; seminars and classes; dietary brochures for patient distribution by health care professionals; an IBS Research Library; and Heather Cooks!, a healthy cooking show on Seattle television. Much of our work is based on Heather's development of the first and only comprehensive IBS dietary guidelines and recipes, an achievement which has earned numerous awards and accolades as well as thousands of thank you letters from IBS sufferers.

Heather & Company also provides the only patient-expert moderated IBS Message Boards on the internet with forums for diet, recipes, hypnotherapy, yoga, plus Crohn's and Colitis. In addition, we support and coordinate the formation and continuation of local in-person IBS support groups across the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. We will soon have other IBS services and products available.

Our website receives nearly 3 million visits each year, and our newsletter is sent to over 30,000 people. We are regular exhibitors at the Digestive Disease Week and American Dietetic Association conferences.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the message boards and this newsletter for companies and/or products that have been legitimately established as helpful for digestive disorders. Please contact us for information.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER - This email is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Any application of the recommendations in this email is at the reader's discretion. Heather Van Vorous and Heather & Company for IBS, LLC are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this email and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this email.
Heather & Company for IBS, LLC
80 S. Washington St, #304
Seattle, WA 98104 USA

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