Before I get to this question, do you know what the Paleo diet is? If not, here’s a quick summary of what you can eat:
• protein from things with eyes (animals, fish, birds)
• any green vegetable
• sweet potatoes (but not white potatoes or other white starches)
• fresh fruit
• nuts, avocadoes
• animal fats, fish oil and a handful of select vegetable oils: olive, macadamia, coconut
• and that’s about it!
• No sugar, dairy, grains, white foods, legumes, processed or junk foods.
The idea is that you eat the way our Paleolithic ancestors did for the thousands of years of human existence before the Agricultural Revolution brought us big helpings of bread and milk along with the diseases of civilization.
So is the Paleo diet a good diet for IBS? What a mare’s nest that question is! It sounds simple but it’s not.
While researching the answer to this, I discovered that:
1. Pretty much all the information out there about Paleo and IBS is anecdotal. (At least all that I could find.) So if you want scientific studies, it looks like they haven’t been done yet.
2. There is a lot of disagreement about whether Paleo works as a diet for IBS. Some people say it completely cured their IBS; others that it was only partially successful for them. (This seems to be true of ALL diets for IBS.)
3. There are definite challenges to going Paleo when you have IBS, depending on what kind of IBS you have. For example, if you have IBS-D and you are quite sensitive to animal fats, which stimulate the production of a hormone that causes intestinal contractions, you’re going to have to be very careful to eat soluble fiber at the beginning of meals to stave off diarrhea. Also, you’ll probably need to eat low-fat meats and fish at least initially, until your system acclimatizes to the diet.
4. If you want to go Paleo, you may need to temper that diet with information from FODMAPS and the GAPS diet. That means you’re going to be concerned with the fructose content of certain foods as well as other naturally-occuring sugars that cause digestive trouble in some people. The GAPS diet is quite similar to Paleo, but also emphasizes making broths from meat, bones, or fish (these home-made broths are considered highly nutritious and very healing), and eating fermented foods and plenty of natural fats.
5. Any diet for IBS, including Paleo, will not be enough if you have undischarged trauma that is triggering symptoms. This is why some people search endlessly for the “right” IBS diet and never find it. If you want to know more about the trauma aspect of IBS and an effective way to release it, grab a copy of our ebook, “Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS: 3 Crucial Secrets to Getting Better.”
6. If your IBS is primarily from food sensitivities, the Paleo diet may be exactly right for you. As usual, with IBS, you won’t know whether or not it will work for you until you try it. The best thing to do is educate yourself. A great resource is Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple site. He calls this eating style Primal rather than Paleo, but it’s the same concept. Robb Wolff has great info about Paleo, as does his mentor, Loren Cordain. These folks and their websites are easy to find and offer tons of free information (especially Mark Sisson’s site – and he actually had IBS at one point.)
Did you try a Paleo or Primal diet for IBS? If so, please tell us about your experiences with this way of eating in the comment box below.
Thanks and see you next time,
Karen and Kathy
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