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Trying to treat ibs with Paleo, how long does it take to work?

by (35)
Updated about 9 hours ago
Created February 08, 2011 at 10:57 PM

So I started my paleo diet 5 days ago hoping it would treat My IBS and give all the benefits i have been reading about.

The first two days on it i got pretty choked up because it seemed as though a condition i had been suffering with for two years was coming to an end. Without the help of any fiber suppliments I had two of the most regular bowel movements I had ever had.

But on the morning of the third day i only managed to pass a few little droppings that sank to the bottom of the bowl, not much of anything. My meals have consisted of Breakfast:two or three eggs and some bacon, Lunch: Chicken breast with some apples or other fruit with a salad of red leaf lettuce and Kale with some carroat sticks. And for Supper: Salmon or more chicken with some nuts and a little fruit for filler.

How long should it take to notice an improvement? has anyone else relieved their gastro issues with Paleo? Any Advice is super appreciated.

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56616 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Six months for me. Bone broth is your friend.

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4266 · June 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I have been doing this now for almost 10 months and I'm getting more and more constipated.

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4124 · December 22, 2011 at 5:57 PM

PFW, thanks very much for this answer. I find it very encouraging. I always enjoy your posts.

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11682 · September 10, 2011 at 1:36 PM

This above is a correct reply. 95% of IBS/UC/Chron's/etc is because of bacteria and/or yeast overgrowth in the gut (SIBO). Using this regime for a while, you cut down their food. They starve, and they die off. Later, when feeling better, you can add fruit back and do normal Paleo.

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559 · May 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

pickled papaya is one of my fav foods from childhood. you pickle the papaya before it gets ripe.

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559 · May 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM

this would explain why i never had ibs problems growing up. my mom cooked mostly asian stews with rice, lots of coconut milk. but once i started eating "healthy" with lots of whole grains and fruits problems i never had before started up.

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7821 · February 09, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I agree too - I've avoided fiber almost entirely for a year and a half. I was referencing people like Dr. Ayers who often take a pro-bacteria food stance (so long as it's the right kind, of course) in that line. I don't think fiber is necessary or good for you, but I wanted to make sure to mention that there are those even in the paleo-friendly group who do, just to ensure that I didn't come across as too perfectly certain of something I'm not qualified to be perfectly certain about :)

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742 · February 09, 2011 at 10:41 PM

I agree with Eva, visit www.gutsense.org for more information on fiber. It's a great website and totally changed my thinking about fiber. It took about 6 months for my IBS to completely go away after going Primal.

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316 · February 09, 2011 at 5:54 PM

I added Mag Citrate, which has helped me with the same issue.

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35 · February 09, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Definetly Constipation thanks for the advice. This is such a supportive community.

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20787 · February 09, 2011 at 4:37 AM

Research I have seen on the use of fiber to help gut problems seems to indicate it usually makes matters worse, not better. The theory that fiber would was promulgated before any actual research was done. Now that the research has been done, the data has not backed the original theory. Remember the fiber scratches the interior lining of the gut, which does not sound like a good thing!

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3976 · February 09, 2011 at 2:20 AM

False negatives for celiac are really common. My GI allowed be to just take the genetic test and my described symptoms. He didn't put me on a gluten challenge because I was so horribly symptomatic, but not all GIs are that enlightened.

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9948 · February 08, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Be sure you drink enough water. Many new paleo people eat to satiety and forget to drink water. On many of the exercise blogs and others about water intake, a rule of thumb is multiply your body weight by .5 and that is the amount of water in ounces to drink. I personally add 25% to my number. Keeps me regular and flushes out any toxins I may be exposed to.

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7821 · February 08, 2011 at 11:50 PM

Here's some reasoning behind why Paleo might work for IBS/bowel problems, and why it might not work, depending on how you implemented it. Note: I have Crohn's (inflammatory/autoimmune bowel disorder) and a low-starch, low-fiber Paleo diet seems to be working for me.

First, we need to talk possible causes. The overarching theory that ties all of these together in the neatest package is fairly simple: your diet is causing a pathological mix of gut flora to arise, and your genetics then determine your response to that pathological state. Maybe you only get IBS, maybe you get Crohn's, maybe you get Ulcerative Colities, but underlying all of this is some level of dysfunction in your gut ecosystem. There is some experimental backing for this hypothesis: google "Ebringer starch" for some information about a researcher who discovered linkages between a certain bacterium and Crohn's, and read this from Kurt Harris about a guy who has discovered linkages between malabsorbed carbs and IBS.

So why might Paleo work? Well, if your take on Paleo has lead you to a diet heavy in meat, low in starch and low in fiber, at least in theory, you should now be eating in such a way that the bacterial actions that underpinned your disorder should be significantly reduced. In the case of IBS and FODMAPs, if you are avoiding excess fructose and various hard to digest poly-saccharides, then you should be reducing the amount of small bowel/colon fermentation, and so reducing the triggers for the disorder.

And that should give you plenty of hints as to why it might not work. If your Paleo take has you eating a lot of fruit, vegetables like onions and asparagus, then you might be simply swapping sources for FODMAPs.

If you did google Ebringer, then you might have come across the London AS Low Starch diet. You will notice that this focus on starch restriction, which also covers FODMAPs but does not focus on them. If you interpret "low-starch" as "lots of veggies", you may fail. If you interpret "low-starch" as "lots of meat", then you'll probably get it right. If my n=1 experiment has any weight, it seems that a VLC diet works. It may work by accident; that is to say, it may work because it restricts the problem foods as well as harmless ones. I don't know.

I can't say whether mere low FODMAP would work, and indeed there are other researchers out there who will tell you that you need to eat more inulin and fiber so that you can grow gut bacteria. My own experience would disagree with that interpretation. Fiber and fermentable carbs give me gas and cramps. Oddly, when I challenged myself with a pile of mashed potatoes, I felt fine - but eat some brussel sprouts, and I'm farting like crazy. So watch out for any food that might not be readily digested and absorbed.

One final note: My own success only started to appear after three months of digestive turbulence. Do not waver on day five. Set a goal for yourself to eat this way for six months regardless of how things go.

I hope you get it under control!

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20787 · February 09, 2011 at 4:37 AM

Research I have seen on the use of fiber to help gut problems seems to indicate it usually makes matters worse, not better. The theory that fiber would was promulgated before any actual research was done. Now that the research has been done, the data has not backed the original theory. Remember the fiber scratches the interior lining of the gut, which does not sound like a good thing!

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff
7821 · February 09, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I agree too - I've avoided fiber almost entirely for a year and a half. I was referencing people like Dr. Ayers who often take a pro-bacteria food stance (so long as it's the right kind, of course) in that line. I don't think fiber is necessary or good for you, but I wanted to make sure to mention that there are those even in the paleo-friendly group who do, just to ensure that I didn't come across as too perfectly certain of something I'm not qualified to be perfectly certain about :)

D5ef6397b5e2fd6fe5f093da5e3d403b
742 · February 09, 2011 at 10:41 PM

I agree with Eva, visit www.gutsense.org for more information on fiber. It's a great website and totally changed my thinking about fiber. It took about 6 months for my IBS to completely go away after going Primal.

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4124 · December 22, 2011 at 5:57 PM

PFW, thanks very much for this answer. I find it very encouraging. I always enjoy your posts.

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56616 · February 09, 2011 at 2:47 AM

It takes quite awhile to heal from IBS. I think it took me 6 months to get into good condition and 2 years before I could say it was gone, but I know things now that I didn't.

Please consider ditching

  • nuts: fiber and phytates, among other things, can irritate the gut
  • chicken breast: an inferior source of meat, lower in nutrition and fat

When you eat chicken or salmon, make sure to wrap in bacon, braise in coconut milk, or otherwise add fat. Fat makes the tummy happy.

Here is what I feel keeps my IBS at bay

  • probiotics and lacto-fermented vegetables. I have at least one serving of lacto-fermented vegetables.
  • meat stews rich in broth and made with fatty cuts of meat. Latest one is made by braising lamb shoulder with coconut milk and broth, with some spices.
  • Less chicken/pork/eggs, more beef/lamb/goat/venison/elk. I do at most one serving a day of chicken/pork/eggs.
  • Plenty of fat
  • I really only eat fermented vegetables now. I don't have a problem with starch, so I sometimes eat yams and other starch, but it might take some time to get your bacteria in balance so they don't go crazy with this food.

It would help to know what type of IBS you have. Mainly constipation or diarrhea?

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559 · May 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM

this would explain why i never had ibs problems growing up. my mom cooked mostly asian stews with rice, lots of coconut milk. but once i started eating "healthy" with lots of whole grains and fruits problems i never had before started up.

9dbfedbe21eae2a65093f8774ba8ad4d
559 · May 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

pickled papaya is one of my fav foods from childhood. you pickle the papaya before it gets ripe.

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1716 · February 09, 2011 at 3:08 AM

I have to second the NO NUTS thing.....I also suffered from terrible IBS and nuts did not help at all. Bone broth everyday, one cup to heal your poor intestines. Water kefir too if you can tolerate it. But above all, squat pooping improved things immensely. I got me one of these babies - http://www.lillipad.co.nz/ and my IBS episodes dramatically decreased since, and bowel movements became "normal"

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3976 · February 09, 2011 at 2:26 AM

It would be helpful if the OP was more specific about the TMI stuff... is your IBS typically characterized by D (diarrhea) or C (constipation)? If it was the first, cut back on the veggies, if it's the second, increase them. It's also really likely that your system will take some time to adjust and you might have symptoms all over the place. After months of D (celiac disease), after the first two weeks of a GF (gluten free) diet, I was constipated. Now I eat a nice balance of meats, fish and veggies and I rarely have any problems, despite a medication for fibromyalgia that can cause C.

Also, you might want to look into something called diatomaceous earth (FOOD GRADE ONLY) since it's helped a lot of people with IBS.

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35 · February 09, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Definetly Constipation thanks for the advice. This is such a supportive community.

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1317 · February 09, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Having suffered from a very similar problem I would agree with the above posters in increasing fat (most important), fermented vegetables and bone broth. I also take magnesium citrate when things flare up (read: constipated) and also the Ayurvedic triphala which strengthens the gut and peristalsis. Magnesium can give you the runs if you overdose but otherwise it also helps with muscle fatigue and general metabolism - hurray!

Good luck !

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5232 · February 08, 2011 at 11:30 PM

I'm approaching two months in, and I'm still adjusting my digestive system. I have days of -- pardon the overshare -- really awesome poos, and then days of, "Eh, is that all I get?"

Another thing to consider is that since our food is more efficient now, there's less waste, which may lead to smaller, fewer BMs.

Here's a question: does it hurt when you don't go anymore? For me, it used to be agony when I couldn't defecate. However, despite my smaller bowel movements, I don't get that lower-abdominal distension and pain anymore. This is such a novelty to me that I, too, wept big fat tears of joy. :)

Also, try squatting on your toilet (if feasible). Believe me, it helps. And meditative breathing, since if you're anything like me, you may get anxious you can't go which might actually prevent you from going. Fully relaxing helps wonders.

Offhand, one the biggest culprit for you is that it looks like you don't eat enough fat. Your lunch looks like "diet" food to me. Perhaps you should saut?? your kale in butter or coconut oil and switch to a higher-fat cut of meat, such as skin-on chicken thigh? It's much less expensive, too. :) Don't be afraid of steaming some broccoli and dousing it in butter for dinner (or leftover bacon drippings, if you save them).

Good luck! I know how important this is to you, and I wish you the best! :)

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898 · February 08, 2011 at 11:16 PM

I think it took me a while actually (maybe 1/2 months) Now it is 95% gone. It would be 100% gone if I stopped having some creme fraiche and decreased my nut intake. Also, my digestion really improved after taking NOW Foods Super Enzymes.

Remember that lack of sleep and stress plays a big part in it as well. Just keep on rolling, and you'll be fine : )

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4991 · February 09, 2011 at 8:22 AM

Henry 3rd, I am sure it will improve but it might take some time!

I've been eating paleo / primal for 15 months now - first few months was meat, green veg , fish, eggs, cream and sat fats. Felt great, but spent far too many hours in the mornings going to the bathroom.

Tried cutting eggs, reducing cream, lessening fats - still had runs in the morning.

Past few weeks, I've added some eggs back, reduced the amount of tea and water that I drink, added back potatoes and root vegetables while reducing greens - and I think there is an improvement. I'm stopping fruit for a few weeks to see if that helps too.

Reading on this site and MDA, there seem to be plenty of variants of primal / paleo, the main common ground seeming to be no grains except perhaps white rice, reducing omega 6 and increasing or at least balancing omega 3, eating more natural fat and plenty of ruminant meat.

Keep experimenting - you'll ultimately find the one that suits you.

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1146 · February 09, 2011 at 3:31 AM

My symptoms have improved tremendously. My stomach use to be a noisy mess, and I had disgusting farts that would fill the whole house with a nasty stench. It took like 4 months of no fruit, nuts and starch, and really high fat to finally fix the problem. Now I could eat potatoes with no problem.

...except now I am constipated. I only go about once a week, but when I do go, I don't struggle at all and the stool looks nice and healthy.

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316 · February 09, 2011 at 5:54 PM

I added Mag Citrate, which has helped me with the same issue.

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106 · February 09, 2011 at 2:54 AM

For the last five weeks I've been on a primarly meat-based diet. I don't eat any fruit or nuts. I rarely eat veggies. For the first 2 weeks I had diarrhea. The next two weeks I had steatorrhea. For the last week my poops have been normal.

I used to have horrible gut problems. Nausea, heartburn, GERD, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, endless burping. Five weeks later my symptoms are mostly gone.

I feel normal for the first time in years.

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9812 · February 09, 2011 at 1:57 AM

I had been dealing with daily painful bloating for several years, and 3 days after cutting gluten, I was fine (I had an endoscopy a couple years ago, negative for celiac); I was overjoyed. I had some ups and downs, and ended up going pretty paleo about 6 months after the initial gluten experiment. I feel about 90% better, but things aren't always great in the ol' BM department. Probably depends on how long you've been sick and how much damage has been done.

I was called in to my GI office for an IBS study, and told the doc how much better I feel when cutting grains, especially gluten; he replied that since I tested negative for celiac, there was no need to cut it out. Oh rly? That was disappointing to hear from a GI "expert", but my nurse practitioner is very supportive of what I've been doing. Definitely give it some time; I bet you'll feel so much better!

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3976 · February 09, 2011 at 2:20 AM

False negatives for celiac are really common. My GI allowed be to just take the genetic test and my described symptoms. He didn't put me on a gluten challenge because I was so horribly symptomatic, but not all GIs are that enlightened.

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39841 · February 08, 2011 at 11:47 PM

You should try cutting out the fruit and just eating meat, fat, some green leafies and tubers for a while and see how you do.

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11682 · September 10, 2011 at 1:36 PM

This above is a correct reply. 95% of IBS/UC/Chron's/etc is because of bacteria and/or yeast overgrowth in the gut (SIBO). Using this regime for a while, you cut down their food. They starve, and they die off. Later, when feeling better, you can add fruit back and do normal Paleo.

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4266 · June 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I have been doing this now for almost 10 months and I'm getting more and more constipated.

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