The Gut Stuff Reader:
I’ve suffered with IBS for 7+ years. I’ve tried almost everything to manage it – I find that a lot of solutions mean more fibre which actually makes it worse. What can I do? I take pre and probiotics already as well as exercise and try and manage stress via talking therapies and I drink more water than anyone I know. I was at my wits end about 5 years ago and have given up on almost everything… Any help would be great. Desperate Dan
Hi Dan. Thank you for submitting your question. For someone like yourself who’s tried every potential solution going, I would switch my focus from looking at what foods to eat and what foods to exclude to when to eat them. Why? Because there is some preliminary evidence coming from studies that points to not eating or fasting having an effect on a number of processes, and one of the things that are affected (seemingly positively!) is bacterial balance. It seems that the spread and number of certain types of bacteria called Firmucutes increase with fasting. Some of these, like Faecalobacterium prausnitzii, are known to be beneficial because they have been seen to be associated with less inflammation. Other types of bacteria, such as verrucomicrobia like Akkermansia muciniphila, also like you fasting because they live in the mucous layer that coats the gut lining and they have a better time eating bits and pieces out of this layer when you take a break from food than then when your gut is full of it. Additionally, from a purely “energy economics” point of view, when you fast your gut isn’t working as hard as when it’s processing food. This allows for some of the “spare energy” to be used for its maintenance and repair.
I can’t provide you with specific clinical advice on this forum, if you look for fasting solutions, there are many about. Some people do well fasting overnight. That’s the easiest way to implement a nice long fast into your lifestyle. Around 12 hours is manageable for most people but I challenge my clients to do up to 16 hours and see how they feel. Whilst this is extremely safe an experiment, it is not a competition, so if they feel unwell, lightheaded, etc. I ask them to have something to eat immediately. Hope this gives you something extra to play with. All the very best to you.
No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.
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