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Hello! I have two questions, one for me and one for my husband. 1. I have been a lacto ovo vegetarian for 25 years. I was healthy until the last l0 years when I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. etc. My friends and family have been urging me to try some meat or chicken or fish. I really don't want to for religious reasons. I try to eat healthy, take a multivitamin, limit my soy because I hear that it's bad for the endocrine system, and eat lots of veges, fruit, legumes, nuts, and grains.My question is: Do you think that my vegetarianism is contributing to my ill health?2. My husband has similar symptoms to me. He's been sick for about five years. He is a total vegetarian, a vegan, and has been for 30 years. His IBS is much worse than mine and he can hardly eat anything. He's lost a lot of weight and has bad pain and diarrhea (they ruled out Crohn's) Do you think he should try eating eggs and dairy?THANKS
 

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Hi there - You can certainly be a vegetarian or vegan and still control IBS through diet. You're actually at an advantage, as red meat, dairy, and egg yolks are huge triggers for most folks, so you definitely do not want to add those into your diet. In general, vegetarians and vegans tne dto be much healthier and face drastically lower risks of several cancers, osteoporosis, and heart disease than carnivores. While you could add skinless chicken breasts and seafood to your diet and be safe for IBS as they aren't trigger foods, they are also not necessary for managing IBS, so you can hold to your religious convictions here without any jeopardy to your health. The odds are that it is insoluble fiber foods that are causing problems for you, and particularly your husband, as he is likely eating tons of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and nuts. These foods are very nutritious, and they do need to be eaten, but their insoluble fiber is powerful GI tract stimulant and can cause severe attacks. For IBS, you need to base your diet on soluble fiber - this is found in rice, oatmeal, potatoes, barley, and pasta. Your husband will likely need to avoid whole grains, especially wheat as the bran is huge trigger, raw or unpeeled fruits and veggies and greens, and beans (unless pureed till smooth) until he is stabilized. When the body has been faced with a severe, chronic pattern of IBS attacks, it can take some drastic dietary alterations for a few days (for diarrhea) or a few weeks (for constipation) to break the cycle and stabilize the gut.There is detailed info about this at http://www.firstyearibs.com/day3learn.html. One other thing - I haven't seen any studies to indicate that soy carries health risks to the endocrine system, and it has actually been found very beneficial for reducing the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease to osteoporosis. Soy milk makes a great substitute for dairy in most recipes, and makes foods that would normally pose huge problems for IBS (creamy chowders, puddings, custards, etc.) totally safe.Hope this helps and that you and your husband are feeling better soon.Best,Heather
 
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