Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Most people with I.B.S. can see themselves- or the medical history of their pets- all over the pages of this Website. I have spoken with many who have recognized this fact, changed their diet, and watched (or felt) their intestinal problem completely disappear…and quickly. Thankfully, it does not take long for the intestinal tract to heal once all of the insults are removed.
Many use the terms Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) interchangeably. Rather than go into a long-winded explanation on this Appetizers page, I will refer the reader to the Wikipedia page on IBS found here: Wikipedia- Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It goes into exhaustive detail.
But for our purposes, I would like to put an idea into the head of my readers: Most disorders of the intestinal tract- heartburn, IBS/IBD, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and even intestinal lymphoma- are going to be caused by the foods and additives that we put into our gastrointestinal tract. Now, that sounds very basic but that elementary notion is frequently overlooked by attending doctors, both veterinary and human. Sadly, many health care professionals will simply prescribe medications that treat (cover-up) the symptoms rather than discuss the potential problem ingredients found in our diet and that of our pet. Others will use outdated dietary recommendations that reflect a total lack of understanding of what is presented on this Website, namely the critical importance of food intolerance.
Case in point: I had a veterinary patient recently that was presented to me after having suffered intermittent diarrhea for years. The pet also had a history of pancreatitis, skin problems, and kidney dysfunction. The owner had been to multiple veterinarians in their area and finally made an appointment with the head of internal medicine at their state’s veterinary school. He did extensive lab tests and placed the dog on a diet of pasta and cottage cheese. The pet did horribly, which forced the owner’s to the Internet for answers, where they found this Website. The owner’s were shocked to find that the internist had put their sickly pet on the number one and number two food allergens, wheat and dairy respectively. Why did he do this?
Sadly, it all boils down to a lack of proper medical training along with the failure to use common sense. As I explained to the owners- whose dog made a “miraculous” recovery on a home-prepared diet of meat and vegetables- I can understand why even high-level veterinarians have not yet grasped the details of food intolerance (e.g. celiac disease) and be able to properly relate diet to pancreatitis, kidney disease, and skin problems. I had to teach all of this to myself since April of 2000, following my own diagnosis and miraculous recovery. (The veterinary community is lagging way behind their human counterparts on this subject as of this writing.) But, it make me a bit crazy to think that any person with a medical degree would recommend that a patient with any kind of inflammatory bowel disease consume the number one and number two food allergens. That makes no common sense, does it?
It has been reported to me many times by my clients that their personal doctors had no discussion of diet with them following their diagnosis of IBS/IBD. That’s amazing to me, especially in 2010 when medicine is supposed to be so advanced. At least veterinarians consider the diet, even though their training is usually limited to reaching for a popular prescription diet to solve the problem. There is a prescription diet for just about every medical condition imaginable now, most of which violate my simple recommendation of eliminating the top four food allergens- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn. You won’t find many of these popular diets in my veterinary office.
Why wouldn’t gastrointestinal signs be the primary warning that we have eaten something wrong? Have we really lost our ability to think for ourselves? I don’t really think that is the case. It is more a matter of blindly doing what we were trained to do. Medicine has evolved into the practice of prescribing drugs that counteract the body’s warning signs..headaches, fever, acid reflux, diarrhea, pain, and even seizures…all of which serve very important purposes, both as warning signs and as therapeutic measures instituted by the body and immune system to keep us well. We don’t enjoy vomiting and diarrhea but that is the GI tract’s way of purging the system of something that the body has deemed inappropriate or harmful. That should make perfectly good sense.
So, why don’t we listen to our body? Do we believe that our immune system does not know what it is doing? Have we bought into the horrible misconception that the we are some genetically-flawed organism that needs man-made drugs to keep this runaway train under control? Or, are we just not thinking for ourselves? It is a combination of all of these, isn’t it? Here’s a fun fact: Medicine is just not that complicated.
It’s time to wake up and start thinking more naturally. This IBS/IBD thing should be a no-brainer. If we consume biologically-appropriate, non-harmful diets, we should not have these issues (except for the secondary food allergies that I explain in the FAQ section). Same for our pets. So, look at the components of your diet or the ingredients of your carnivorous pet’s commercial diet. Nearly 80% of the calories in the standard American diet (that’s S.A.D.) come from the top four food allergens (wheat, dairy, soy and corn). This is even truer for veterinary diets. Now, how should we really treat IBS/IBD???