Monday, February 13, 2012

Am I cured of IBS? 2 months into the low carb diet

It has now been two months since I started the low-carbohydrate diet, after having read about an austrian doctor who cured Crohn's sufferers with it (check his book, it's a great read: life without bread).
I feel it is now time for a first review. I don't want to make you wait, so here goes: it has changed my condition in an incredible way. In fact, I am beginning to think that I can get cured within a few months. If you want detailed results, and advice how YOU can start the diet and get better, this article is for you.

Achievements

I already was under the low-FODMAPS diet, and I already had given the results I had gotten thanks to it.
Here is a quote from the original article:

Now, for the results I obtained: Very impressive! If I stick to the diet, I don't have a single symptom in everyday life. That's an incredible change. You read that right, no symptom.
So, am I cured of IBS? Well, no, because of two drawbacks:
  • In very stressful situations, the symptoms come back
  • Eventually you will have to leave your home and eat outside. There, you can't control exactly what's in your plate, even if you pay attention. Cream or onions are widely used, it's hard to avoid them.
As you can read, I was very satisfied by it, but not totally. When going out, there still was the chance that I would feel bad, and eating was always dangerous, because you never know when a sauce contains lactose, which is my worst trigger-food.

So here is what I did: On the 10th of December 2011, I began counting every carb I would eat, and limited the amout to 72g of carbs a day. It's not much, but perfectly manageable, in comparison to more extreme sorts of low-carb diets like Atkins (less than 20g of carbs a day). For example it allows me to eat many vegetables.
At first I was willing to try the specific carbohydrate diet, but it was too hard for me. So I switched back to following the FODMAPs diet and limiting my carb intake at the same time.
And now for the results:
In two months, I didn't get a single crisis. I had one yesterday, but I will explain why later.
Gas was a major problem for me, and I hardly have any nowadays.
I went out several times without the slightest problem. This was often a trigger for me, going out knowing that I would not have a toilet a disposal. This is where the FODMAPs diet felt short.

Now what I would need is something very stressful to see how I cope.

A real IBS treatment?


Two months without a symptom, one could ask himself if he is cured.

Actually, seeing how incredible I felt, I tried after a month to eat small portions of my trigger-foods (for those who don't know the term, these are foods that provoke an IBS crisis when you eat them). At first I could feel some symptoms coming back for a few hours, but it was very mild, generally a stomach ache for a few minutes and a need to go to the bathroom, but no diarrhea.
And this week-end I felt so confident I tried something a bit crazy. I ate food containing lactose every single meal. Small portions of it of course, but that was something I could never do. And here's what happened. The first two meals went perfectly, I did not have the slightest problem. The third meal already triggered stomach pain. The fourth and last meal unfortunately triggered my first diarrhea in two months.
This experience is actually very positive: two meals with my worst trigger food, and I was ok. I will try this test in a few months time, and see if it got better.

Some of my old trigger foods are actually safe now: red beans, onions, fructose. I will not try to eat loads of them, but in small amounts I don't have any problem. Another victory over the low-FODMAPs diet.

Some advice for starting the low-carb diet


Dear reader, there is only one thing I want to tell you: TRY A LOW-CARB DIET! NOW! It is by miles the most efficient method, if I avoid my usual trigger foods, I am completely symptom free. 
To help you getting started, here is what I learned within those two months:

  • Limit your carbohydrate intake to 72g a day. I would not advise trying more severe versions of the low-carb diet, these are very hard to stick to. Alternatively, you can decrease you carb intake by 50g per week until you reach 72g. It could be easier for you that way.
  • It may seem hard at first to count every carb, but you actually get used to it. There are lots of websites providing information for every possible food. A google search ending with "carbs" works wonders. In fact, after a few weeks, you will know most of the food you eat and will hardly need to check anymore. But for starters, count everything, you can use an excel file to help you out. 
  • The first week is really hard to get through. In fact you will get stomach pains, go very often to the toilet and feel dizzy. The pain probably comes from bacteria dying in you gut, they release some toxins as they do so. Drink green tea to help flushing these toxins. So be sure to start the diet on a week where you should always have a toilet at your disposal. For some people this might mean waiting for the holidays.
  • Even if you follow the low-carb diet, you have to stay away from your trigger foods. The most common contain lactose, fructose, gluten, dry beans and lentils. Everyone is different, so if you are not sure, cut all of these from your diet, and reintroduce one after one week or two and see how it goes.
  • After one month being into the diet, choose one of your trigger foods and try eating a small portion of it. See how it goes. Try this every now and then.You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • From time to time, you may experience stomach aches, they generally last a few minutes at most, nothing very troublesome. My interpretation of them is the bad bacteria still dying and releasing toxins.
  • You will probably lose weight with this diet. This can be a problem if you are skinny like me. In that case, avocados, nuts and oils are your new best friends, eat lots of them. I lost 1,5Kg (3,5Lbs), but I seem to have stabilized, so it's no big deal.
  •  IMPORTANT! After a few months in the treatment, I realized I had some joint pain. This seems to be a known side-effect of the diet. To counter this, take some multivitamin supplements.
I hope I will convince someone out there to try this out. Really, if you read this blog, if you have IBS, I cannot emphasize that enough. 
Some people might be afraid of changing their diet so drastically, for an unknown period. Here is what I would advise: try the diet for just one month. It's not that long, and if you find it that unbearable you can always go back to your old diet afterwards. But at least you tried it.

So. what is left for me? If I trust life without bread, most people become cured after six months to one year using the diet (more on that in a future article). Healing the intestines sure is long. But for the first time in decades I do believe I can get cured of IBS. It does feel like a real irritable bowel syndrome treatment, since my trigger foods don't necessary trigger a crisis anymore. Even if I have to stick to the diet for my whole life it is still worth it.

34 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Hi Guillame but for IBS what diet is better ? Low carb or FODMAP ?
Diets in question tend to eliminate all carbohydrates right ?
Now I'm doing a diet with the lowest number possible of carb! Am I right ?

Thanks!

Guillaume said...

Hi,
For me, Low carb is better than FODMAP. FODMAP works faster, but after three months I still had symptoms whenever I ate something forbidden. With the low-carb diet, I actually have the impression that I am constantly getting better, even when I eat foods that used to trigger an IBS crisis.

Not all diets eliminate carbs. The FODMAPs diet eliminates foods that tend to ferment in the gut. These are very often high carb foods, but not all high carb foods.
The Specific carb diet forbids some high-carb foods, not everyone of them.
As for the low carb diet, nothing is really "forbidden", but you have to count everything you eat so that you don't consume more than 72g of carbs a day. For example, a small amount of rice will be ok, but a whole serving will be so much that you need to avoid every carb for the rest of the day.

You are right in limiting the amount of carbs, but I would recommend not to overdo it (eat between 50 and 70g of carbs a day), because otherwise it is really hard to stick to the diet. Some people do it though (The atkins diet for example consists in 20g of carbs a day.)

I think I will make another article on choosing foods for the low carb diet, hopefully this will make things easier to understand.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much you're wonderful thank for your help

Thanks !

Anonymous said...

Hi Gui , Perfect I'm already following the diet... we can say that the most important carbo to eliminate is those contained in pasta , bread,sugars,chocolate and some type of vegetables? as the potatoes?

Even if some vegetables has got carbo , like carrot , I can even eat it , true ?

I assume carbo just with carrots , I don't eat pasta , rice and bread , and just for breakfast , i eat rice bread with a little of soya chocolate cream

It's a right diet ?

Guillaume said...

yes, avoid every food with high carbs, that includes potatoes. Carrots are ok in reasonable amounts (10g carbs per 100g, you probably won't eat more than 150g, so that's 15g).
rice bread being made with rice, it's high carb, so avoid that. I personally switched to english breakfast: eggs, sausage and cheese. Seems strange at first, but it's actually excellent.

This site gives you nutritional information on a lot of foods, including carbohydrates:
http://www.calorie-counter.net/nutrition-calories-in-food.htm

Don't worry, it's hard to count everything at fiirst, but you get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sites! but the egg can be eaten everyday? it's not dangerous ?

Guillaume said...

No problem with two eggs a day. There was an assumption that it may give high cholesterol, but this has been proven to be wrong by recent studies.

Anonymous said...

I have IBS, and have been on a low carb diet for the last month. I lost 7 lbs. Lately, for the last 3 days, I have had severe stomach pains. Is it possible that the problem is the sugar free gum, low carb protein drinks, Atkins chocolate bars etc. have been causing the pain?

Guillaume said...

I think these often contain aspartam, a very controversed sweetener. Try to cut them for a few days and see how it goes.

If you pain is on the lower side of the bowel, and brief, I experienced that too: Dr. Lutz claims this is because the lower intestine starts working again, years after having been idle due to IBS. So it eventually goes away.

Be also sure to drink lots of water.

If nothing helps, You should definitely go to your doctor. Be warned, low-carb is very controversial, he will probably tell you to quit.

Hope you'll get better!

Anonymous said...

I started a low-carb diet (70g. or less per day) in early February because I wanted to lose a few holiday pounds. I planned to do it for a week or so. At the end of a week, I realized I had not had any IBS issues for the entire week. I have stayed low-carb (and limited lactose and no onions) ever since and continue to be symptom-free after almost three months. Low-carb has changed my life!

Guillaume said...

Thanks for your comment! I'm really glad to see this works for others than me!

Emily said...

Hi! just starting the low carb diet, i have ibs which ive found is triggered by high carbs such as potato and rice which i thought were previously doing me good!, Ive already noticed a difference from eating the low carb meal, i have no problems with feeling bloated and groggy afterwards, no gas problems straight after eating a meal which before starting the diet was horrendous! I am into my third day, properly starting to count my carb intake, it's not as hard as i thought it would be either!, happy so far, i will report back and let you know how i go in a few weeks! Thank you so much for recommending it!

Guillaume said...

That's excellent news Emily! Keep us informed.
During the first week you may feel dizzy at times, do not worry about it, it will go away. And I would recommend a good vitamin and mineral supplement as well.
You'll see, after a few months, you can't remember what IBS felt like!

Emily said...

Still doing well on the low carb diet!, finding a few new recipes so it doesnt get too boring, One of the problems i am having is constipation, i am drinking lots of water and trying to get enough fruit and veg without going over on my carb count, did you experience this problem atall?

Guillaume said...

Yes, I had some mild symptoms of constipation. Dr Lutz says the lower intestine needs time to move again like it should, after all those years of doing nothing. For me, it lasted approximately two months. It wasn't too problematic, so I didn't do anything about it, but you could try psylium supplements, they're really effective against constipation.

Emily said...

Thanks, i've started taking a fibre suppliment to help, i have terrible gas though right now, i think it could be from the constipation and the bad stuff not being emptied out of my body!, still i've had a great result in my acid reflux disapearring already, and my bloating has gone :), just wish this gas would go!

Guillaume said...

Well I'm pretty confident all your symptoms will eventually go away. Mine did. You'll have a whole new life in a few months time!

Anonymous said...

After 35 years of IBS I started a low carb diet last year. Once I got my carbs below 100g/day my IBS was gone. I did have occasional constipation at first, but after a few weeks things were working good for the first time in decades. My first doctor wanted me to lower my cholesterol so I cut out meat and dairy and replaced them with carbs. My IBS was awful and I gained a lot of weight (50 additional pounds). I started low carb to lose weight after reading a book by Gary Taubes. I found a new doctor and started a low carb diet. My cholesterol profile is much better and several other cardiac risk factor have improved. I feel great and as far as I'm concerned there is no downside to low carb. The advice above is spot on. That is how I did it by lowering the carbs gradually. Anyone with IBS should try low carb. Don't forget that many people are sensitive to gluten so limiting wheat as part of the low carb diet is also not a bad idea. Best of luck.

Guillaume said...

thanks a lot for your testimony!

Anonymous said...

Note many low carb treats contain sugar alcohols. These will trigger colon spasms in anyone if they eat enough so best to avoid. The most ommon used in Atkins bars is maltitol it's really harsh. Most people can tolerate xylitol. If you read up on it it's also the safest sugar substitute (next to stevia which doesn't really taste like sugar). Atkins only advocates 20 grams of carb for the induction phase of the diet so you can get "keto adapted". Ie switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat (ketones). Recommend reading The Art and Science of Low Carb Living by Drs. Volick and Phinney if you want detailed info on doing this diet for maximum benefit.

Anonymous said...

I posted in April saying low carb changed my life. Now it's October, and I'm still living a very happy life on low carb. The longer I do it, the easier it is. There's always something tasty for us low-carb eaters to enjoy . . . and no gas, diarrhea, bloat, fear of going out. Giving up carbs is a small price to pay for freedom from IBS.

Anonymous said...

wow!! I cant believe I found something that might actually HELP me. I keep reading stories online about people who tell stories where IBS has kicked in and im like "omg this is not helping me AT ALL... its just making me even more nervous about my bowels." Im 19 and going to school is pretty awful... In the morning i get up at 6:15 and I have a 20 min drive to school and when i get there i have to RUSH into the bathroom because most of the time I get a major diarrhea which ive been keeping in while riding the car... its so agonizing and then theres class .... 90 min of class and you cant really excuse yourself for more than 5 min... and thats SERIOUSLY not enough :( I think I have suffered from IBS for threeyears but it has definitly gotten worse this school year. It makes me really sad because i cant go anywhere, like cinema or parties, or even sleepover at a friends house. I have avoided travelling too because of this :( and my family dont understand how I feel my sister is all "just go before you leave and its not difficult to keep it in" (sometimes i seriously wish she could experience a day in my life THEN she can come back to me..) I want to travel abroad with friends without being afraid of feeling a sudden gurgel in my stomach and have to rush to the toilet within a minute :( After reading this I really want to try out the low carb diet - I know my parents are very against it because they think its unhealthy and ill admit i always thought the low carb diet sounded kind of dangerous BUT if it helps and I can live my life again then im DEFINITLY trying it out :) Im so sick and tired of this and i really want to enjoy my life without having to be chained to a friggen toilet my entire life. xD Thanks for making this blog!! <3

Guillaume said...

Well I hope it works for you as well! I would recommend avoiding anything with lactose fructose and gluten as well, at least for a few weeks. Even if this does not work, remember you still have options, like hypnotherapy or l-glutamine. Keep trying things out, and you WILL find what works for you!

Anonymous said...

What about alcohol drinks? Do you avoid them, or for example vodka or whisky is ok? What about gym? If you're skinny and you want to gain mass, eating a lot of fat and proteins and going to gym is good idea, or you would lose more weight?
Sorry about my english, for me it is much easier to read than to write. I hope you can understand me.

Guillaume said...

Hello, Lots of good questions!
Concerning Alcohol, my experience is that most strong alcohol are ok, since they do not contain much sugar anymore (I had a go at rhum, vodka, and tequila). Be very careful with beer (contains gluten), and fruity wines (contains fructose). A dry wine or champagne seems to be ok for me. But again, everyone's a bit different.
Concerning gaining weight, I am currently working on it, and will post a new article a few months from now to explain how it went. Right now i am very happy with the results, and counting calories and going to the gym is enough to gain weight, even on a low-carb diet.
And I found your english to be perfectly understandable. I'm not a native speaker either.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Did that diet cure all of your symptoms of IBS? Did you feel tired, have sexual problems such as low libido and ED? I'm going to try that.
If I start eating only meat, eggs, fish, cheese and fat, a little bit of rice (rice is ok for me), and no vegetables and fruit at all, is it good for me? And then after a week I'm going to start eating carrots, salads, etc... Is ot ok? Is it safe to eat a lot of proteins? For example 3 grams per kg of body weight.

I believe it is all about IgG antibodies. I don't have problem with meat, eggs, etc... But fiber and some carbohydrates are very bad for me.

Guillaume said...

The diet made me symptom-free. Only case where they come back is in very stressful situations. Concerning the other symptoms, I did and still do feel tired.
I would never recommend not to eat any vegetable, you surely can find one that is ok with you. Salad, zucchinis, eggplant, squashes, are generally well accepted. Concerning fruits, have a try at low-fructose fruits, like plums, strawberries, or very ripe bananas. Concerning proteins, I am at 2,5g per Kg of bodyweight, I feel great.

Anonymous said...

If you have joint pain, and feel that your ibs is under control, then do get checked out for fibromyalgia. I have it and there are several things related to fibromyalgia. Depression, IBS, TMJ, joint pain and others like tiredness ...all part of the problem.

I take a lactose free milk but may try going without.I was on a low carb diet around the time of my marriage but went off it just before the marriage. Now I think about it, that was when I was feeling the best. It indicates that I need to get back on the low carb diet.

Guillaume said...

Yes, IBS and fibromyalgia seem to be closely related. I highly recommend that you try low carb again, at least for a few weeks. Could the best decision you ever made!

Cheers

Su_H said...

Hi there. I wondered if you had seen/tried this for your IBS: http://www.helpforibs.com/ This diet actually uses carb foods that are rich in soluble fibre to help control gut motility. Also fennel and peppermint and camomile teas.

Anonymous said...

My doctor gave me rifaximin, mebeverine and probiotics for diarrhea (Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) 2 weeks ago. I'm also taking tianeptine for depression, it's probably good for IBS as well.
No diarrhea for last 2 weeks at all and I can drink beer again :)

Rafi Islam said...

Hi,

You talked about struggling in the first week. We're you still getting diarrhoea in the first week of starting the low carb diet?

I've started and into the second day, so far I have not seen any improvements, but hoping that's due to the first week struggle. I also take Calcium and Vitamin D supplements.

Guillaume said...

Hi,

Yes, try to go for at least one week. Also try to avoid common triggers like gluten, lactose and fructose. Hope it works for you!

Anonymous said...

Be careful with the artificial sweetners. Some low carb ice creams and other products have sugar alcohols, which have laxative effects. Look for names like sorbitol, mannitol, etc.

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