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If you suffer from belly pains and intermittent diarrhea and constipation, check with your doctor. Chances are that you will be told that you have irritable bowel syndrome.

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome means that your medical evaluation found no obvious medical abnormality and that the most likely cause is a diet that is too low in fiber and too high in fat. Much of the food that you eat is absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, but some non-absorbable starch avoids absorption and passes to your colon which is loaded with bacteria that ferment the non-absorbable starch to release large amounts of gas. If the gas can pass out, it should cause no symptoms. However, if anything obstructs the flow of gas, it accumulates behind the obstruction and blows up the tube- shaped colon like a balloon, stretching the colon to its limits and causing tremendous pain. Eating food that is low in fiber and high in starch causes hard stool. However, fiber-rich food keeps everything soft. Fiber cannot be broken down and its large particles hold water to keep stool soft and pliable, letting the gas pass on its way.

The vast majority of people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome do not have a serious disease. In one recent study, (1) fewer than one in 20 suffered from serious diseases, such as ulcers, cancers or pancreatitis up to 30 years later. The treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans and avoid high-starch, low-fiber foods such as most bakery products and pastas.

June 7th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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