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Fasting as a treatment


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#1 Grace Makutsi

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 07:02 PM

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I tried fasting (partly because I just wanted a break from the constant abdominal pain, and not eating reduces the pain). Days 1 and 2, no food, just water, and at the end of Day 3, a small bowl of white rice. Tried three of these back-to-back but when I resumed eating, the symptoms just came back.Has anyone had success treating IBS with fasting?I am a typical-sized middle aged female, a little chubby but not at all fat (5'7" and 143 lbs) so I have some reserves to protect me from lack of calories. Since I'm totally new to IBS, I don't know what to expect long term.


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#2 Christian with a thorn

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 01:04 AM

I personally have never had any success with fasting and if anything it seems like it's worse then when I do start to eat again. I can't really fast anyway, as I have very low blood pressure and feel faint easily. If you are new to IBS, there are many other methods, natural remedies, and medications you can try which may help regulate you more. Have you been tested for gluten intolerance, as I know that can cause almost constant abdominal pain. Just a thought. It may not be that you have to stop eating completely, but rather find things that you can safely eat. I suggest starting a journal daily, and keep track of what foods you seem to react worse too. Etc. It can take times but often you'll begin to see a pattern. Then adjust your eating habits and see if that at least lessens the frequency and severity of the attacks.Good Luck!!!! Were you officially diagnosed with IBS by a GI? If not , that is a good place to start.
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#3 IanRamsay

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:12 AM

Generally if you dont eat the food that triggers symptoms, your symptoms wont be triggered by that food.cheersIan
Emetophobic since 1987, IBS A (More C) since 1990, Chronic GERD + Chronic Gastritis since 1987. When people say it cant get any worse, i say at least you are still breathing! Keep the faith. Currently in remission thanks to specific strain probiotics and 12 years of probiotic reaserch.

#4 Kathleen M.

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 05:03 AM

One thing to remember is sometimes we over-react to the normal changes that occur in the GI tract whenever we do eat.The colon gets a signal that the stomach got filled up and it becomes more active. This reflex can cause symptoms after meals. Depending on the person that can be occasionally or every single meal they eat. This is often not in any way a specific food reaction.Not eating at all will stop those symptoms for however long you do not eat, but since not eating is eventually fatal it really isn't much of a cure. One problem with not eating to avoid symptoms is the GI tract will react much more to the meal that breaks the fast (whether it is a 8-12 hour fast or a 3 day fast) than it does to meals that are eaten more frequently.If you watch shows like Survivor where they are on a near starvation diet for days/weeks you notice that even healthy people sometimes get a lot of GI upset when they finally get to eat a full meal.There is no amount of fasting you can do that will stop the GI tract from noticing you ate and reacting to a meal. There are some things you can do to limit the over-reaction to the act of eating.1. Small frequent meals. So 300-400 calories every 3 hours is going to cause a smaller reaction than 1600 calories once a day. You may do better with a calorie dense set of foods for the 300 calories as volume can play a role. To help with losing weight I can make some 300 calorie meals that are an amazingly huge volume so you want to avoid those kinds of meals. A small sandwich will be better than a huge plate of steamed veggies.2. Limit the amount of fat per meal. Fattier, richer meals cause a bigger reaction than a bowl of low fat rice, but if you haven't eaten for three days your GI tract is going to react in a big way to any food you put in it, even a small bowl of rice. Even normal people get a lot of GI distress if they don't eat all day so they can really be hungry for a Thanksgiving feast and then afterward they sit around groaning from a distended belly. The problem with IBSers is we get a lot of distress from fairly normal meals.3. Take something before the meal that can blunt the over-reaction. If it is mostly pain an antispasmodic (prescription or peppermint) or if you have a lot of diarrhea as part of the reaction a small dose of Imodium. These things take 20-30 minutes to start reacting and often the after meal reaction doesn't last that long so if you wait until you can't take the symptoms you may be having the drug at its most effective between meals when you may not need it. Taking them 30 minutes before the meal gives them a chance to be most effective when you need them most.4. Low dose antidepressants sometimes will mellow out the over-reaction of the gut nerves and make the symptoms from eating any food of any kind go away.That being said, sometimes you can break a reaction to a specific food.When I had a bad penicillin reaction I got an allergic reaction to the penicillin/ This also effected a few foods. About a decade of not taking any penicillin and not eating foods like blue cheese that cross react and I can have an occasional bit of blue cheese. I never eat a lot, but once in a while I can now eat it without having my skin turn purple.I had a conditioned response to raisins. It wasn't an allergy. I got really sick from something else the first time I ever had raisin bran cereal and my body/brain decided raisins are bad and must be expelled as quickly as possible. Took about a decade for that as well, but I can now eat raisins without tossing them right back up. One difference between an allergic response vs a conditioned response is that with an allergy (or most of the other food intolerance) you will react to a food whether you know you ate it or not. With a conditioned response you have to know you ate that food. Some people react to dairy even if they are not allergic and not lactose intolerant. If you hide a bunch of lactose in their food that normally doesn't have lactose they do not react to it. However if that specific food makes you sick regardless of the reason avoiding a few foods to not react is worth it.So yes, sometimes for a specific food reaction you can fast that away. But you have to be eating a normal healthy diet that just doesn't include that food or food ingredient. You can't do a complete fast for a decade, but you could avoid a specific list of a few foods for a few years to see if that reaction will break. The problem is if you eat it and it makes you sick that tends to reset the clock so you really need to do a long avoidance. I probably avoided them longer than I needed to, but once I knew those couple of foods were off the table I just was open to never eating them again.There are some food intolerances that do not seem to be something you can fast away and may require a permanent change in diet. No amount of fasting will cause you to start producing lactase or make you not have celiac disease anymore, for example.
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#5 Kes1

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 05:18 AM

Re fasting v IBS - This probably is not a problem for everyone, but for me, going hungry even for several hours actually causes bloating and can lead to a very painful IBS attack. My doctor explains it this way - the system is irritated by digestive juices that have nothing to work on, so it triggers IBS. I know when this happens as a sensation of being hungry quickly gets replaced by bloatedless that comes on very fast, and often eating something quickly at this point gets the gas to move on and out of my system - but sometimes not, and I get an IBS attack. Hence typically, I need to avoid getting too hungry at all costs; fasting is totally out of the question. I am still slim though due to a generally healthy diet, exercise and probably just being a bag of nerves generally.So fasting with IBS - this seems to be a very bad idea for unlucky some.

#6 Grace Makutsi

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:53 PM

Thank you to everyone who answered. I wish I had thought to find you and ask a month ago, but better late than never.I did stop eating gluten one year ago and for awhile things were better, then some extremely stressful life experiences happened and the symptoms got bad. I thought it was an emergency--I had no idea what was going on. My gastroenterologist did an endoscopy (but not a colonoscopy) and told me nothing looks worse than usual, and no Barrett's Esophagus. He told me it was IBS, and figured I'd go look it up and teach myself about it.I have been eating tiny bits today and you are all right--the tinier, but more often, the better.I have another question but it's a new topic so I'll start a new topic.

#7 Kathleen M.

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 08:18 PM

Glad that helped.It sometimes seems counter-intuitive that when food brings pain or other symptoms to eat more often, but it is how that effects the system that can do some good.
My story of beating IBS: My Story with IBS
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#8 Genie75

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:12 PM

I have done the fasting when I got to the point where I was totally exasperated and did not feel like eating anymore. Of course, I can never really go very long on the fast, like maybe 24 hours before I get hungry and start eating again. I tend to do past fasting, like if I'm really not doing well, I will just drink liquids for 12 - 24 hours, and then go onto fruits after that which act as a cleanser type of thing to get everything out. I have found that some fruits I do better on than others. I do really well on really rype pineapple when fasting. I can't say the fasting makes me more tolerant of any foods though. I still have all my IBS symptoms, just that I find that the fasting and then the fruit help me to cleanout a build up of food inside. I have that problem sometimes, when my colon spasms are due to food being "stuck" (constipation I guess). For me foods get stuck very easily, so I am either in the state of diarhea most of the time, or the opposite end which is constipation. I am having great difficulties stabilizing. I am working on eating soluble fibre (natural from foods) with every meal. That does seem to be helping a certain amount. The hard part is getting the amount right. It's like if I have too much, I don't do well either.
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