IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder which is getting increasingly common. It may be due to the diet that we have been subjecting ourselves to. IBS is characterised by chronic and relapsing symptoms. The symptoms include lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, wind, distension and altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhoea to constipation) but with no abnormal pathology.
If you suspect that you have IBS, you should get yourself diagnosed by a medical practitioner. IBS is diagnosed by exclusion. Therefore, the doctor will perform tests to rule out other medical conditions before giving you the final diagnosis.
It also helps by avoiding certain foods that worsen diarrhea, bloating and gas creation. These foods include cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cauliflower, wasabi, kale, broccoli etc).
Adding fiber to the diet, drinking plenty of water, avoiding carbonated sugared drinks, eating smaller meals contribute to relieving IBS symptoms.
How does fermented food like Milk Kefir, Water Kefir and Kombucha help with IBS?
Eating fermented food is a fantastic way to naturally enhance the health of your digestive and immune systems. This is due to fermented food containing probiotics, which are friendly bacteria. Therefore, we want them to colonise our guts instead of the harmful ones! This reduces problematic digestive problems. Not only that, the sugars in the kefirs and kombuchas have already been broken down in the fermentation process and this results in less gas and bloating.
Monash University has developed a low FODMAP diet which is specially targetted towards reducing IBS. To combat the symptoms of IBS, it is recommended to eat food with high FODMAP rating. And fermented food rates pretty high in FODMAP rating.
It also pays to consume prebiotics. What is a prebiotic? A prebiotic is a type of fibre that passes through GI tract undigested and stimulates the growth and activity of good bacteria (probiotics) in the large intestine.
Some health benefits attributed to prebiotic intake includes modulation of the gut microbiota, improved mineral absorption, possible protection against colon cancer, improved blood glucose and insulin profiles, protection against intestinal infections and alterations in the progress of some inflammatory conditions.
Food sources of prebiotics are vegetables (Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion, asparagus, beetroot, fennel bulb, green peas, snow peas, sweetcorn, savoy cabbage), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans), fruit (custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranates, dates, figs), nuts and seeds (cashews, pistachio nuts).
A strategy to combat IBS!
In general both kombucha and kefir help with IBS. Having probiotic diversity is key.
Eat a high-pre and probiotic breakfast that consists of Milk Kefir with nuts, dried fruits and seeds. Kefir has up to 60 strains of probiotic bacteria and yeasts.
Drink Kombucha with your lunch and/or dinner instead of high sugar, carbonated drinks. Kombucha has up to 40 strains of probiotic bacteria and yeasts.
For your meals (lunch and dinner), consume lots of fermented food such as tempeh, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, natto, appam, pickles, dhokla, dosa, fermented bean curd, oncom, sour cabbage, stinky toufu etc.
Therefore, it is time to load up on prebiotics and probiotics!
Even if you don’t have IBS, they have other health benefits as well! Let’s live healthily! Cheers to everyone out there!
Hertzler, S. & Clancy, S. “Kefir improves lactose digestion and tolerance in adults with lactose maldigestion” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2003 103:582–587.
Turan, I., et.al. “Effects of a kefir supplement on symptoms, colonic transit, and bowel satisfaction score in patients with chronic constipation: A pilot study” Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology 2014 25:650-656.
Leite, A., et.al. “Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology2013 44:341-349.