Recently, I received many questions about healing my IBS problems with a ketogenic diet. While the diet itself was key in my treatment, there are some other supporting components that contributed (and is still contributing) to my success.
If you'd like to read about my personal story with IBS, you can view my blog post entitled, Ketogenic Diet: My Treatment for IBS.
1. Ditch the grains
Yes, I know it's hard, but it's so worth getting your health turned around. Seriously.
Coming from an Italian family, the though of not having bread or pasta with a meal made me sick. Literally.
Fortunately, when following a low-carb diet, grains are virtually removed. Be sure to check for additives to products like low-carb bread products, salad dressings, sauces, etc.
2. Test for allergies and avoid them
Unfortunately, getting allergy tests can be expensive and quite frankly, they aren't always accurate.
Take it upon yourself to remove certain foods from your diet for a small amount of time (a couple weeks - month) and then slowly try to reintroduce it.
For me, I could tell the difference in removing gluten/grains in just a few days. Dairy is also allergenic for a lot of people, so make sure you test for that and eggs as well.
Fortunately for me, I can tolerate low-lactose dairy just fine (hard cheeses, heavy whipping cream) but more concentrated sources like milk and cream are still no-no's for me.
If your symptoms are severe enough, also consider foods that are high FODMAPS. Here is a very helpful chart that shows the FODMAPS to enjoy and those to avoid.
3. Avoid raw vegetables (initially)
From my experience, adding a bunch of raw vegetables to your diet is one of the worst things you can do for someone suffering from IBS. They are hard to digest and will likely leave you with painful and unfavorable bowel movements. Over time as your gut heals, you may be able to start incorporating these back in.
For beginners however, always cook your vegetables.
4. Use high-quality fats
Saturated fats are extremely helpful with IBS. They are a concentrated source of minerals that are easy to digest and absorb within the body.
It is highly recommended that you use the purest forms of fat. If you are using animal fat, PLEASE use something that is grass-fed and/or pastured.
If you are using non-animal sources, make sure it is a high quality, virgin and organic brand.
Some great fats to consider include:
- Grass-fed butter/ghee
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed/pastured animal fat
- Pastured/free-range eggs
5. Get geeky about gelatin
Gelatin has been another important factor in my gut healing. Whether you choose to supplement, drink or eat your gelatin, please make sure that you include it.
Gelatin is extremely healing to the gut lining and comes with a whole slue of benefits. It's great for your stomach, your hair, skin, nails, joints and even has some protein.
For me, it's easiest to take a tablespoon before bed mixed in some water. The brand that I use is Great Lakes which is not only grass-fed, but much cheaper than buying the individual packets at the grocery store.
If you'd prefer getting your gelatin from food, drinking homemade bone broth is an excellent and cost effective way to incorporate it into your diet.
You can even make fun little jello-like treats that are much easier to consume and a lot tastier too!
Here are some of my favorite gelatin-based recipes:
- Gut Healing Gummy Snacks by Primal Palate
- Keto, Paleo Gelatin Pudding by Grass Fed Girl
- Strawberry Panna Cotta by Intentionally Domestic
6. Fermented foods are fantastic
I can't stress how significant fermented foods are in this recovery. When foods are fermented, they colonize with live bacterias on them. This sounds really gross, but this makes them super healthy for the inside of your gut when consumed.
They improve digestion, fight off bad bacteria and raise your immune system. Not only are these guys helpful, but they taste fantastic!
So how can you get some naturally fermented foods in your diet?
- Take probiotics like raw sauerkraut. They're not hard to make at home if you'd like to make it yourself!
- Eat fermented vegetables. Sauerkraut, carrots, pickles, olives, etc. Just make sure that they're raw and not pasteurized (this kills of all the beneficial bacteria).
- Supplement with probiotic supplements. If you do this, make sure you get the ones that require refrigeration. These ones are actually live!
If you're interested learning about fermentation and making your own at home, I highly suggest the book Fermented: A Four Seasons Approach to Paleo probiotic foods, written by a fellow Pittsburgher!
Finally, it is important that we destress. You must take the time out of your day and just relax.
This can be done in the form of a short walk, meditation, a nap, deep breathing techniques, anything.
With this, also make sure to get adequate sleep. What's the proper number? There isn't one. Sleep until you're rested.