Case Histories - Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A patient presenting with reactive bowel symptoms is usually in trouble beyond the digestive tract. Symptoms of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction are central to the wider range of manifestations of food interactions with the body and should be seen as evidence that there are problems down-stream related to the food supply. Other diagnoses cluster around the central gastrointestinal tract dysfunction - migraine, fibromyalgia, depression, chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, and arthralgias are typical associations. The following case histories illustrate different version of this " package deal."
Listen to a Description of the "Package Deal" aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Bloating, Cramps, Spaced-Out
A 35 year old woman complained of life-long digestive symptoms, increasing in severity in the past 4 years. She stated that "every time I eat, I get heartburn, abdominal distention and cramps... later I feel tired and miserable." She was tired, cold, sleeping poorly, and congested in her nose and throat. She often awakened feeling short of breath and coughing. She also reported memory disturbances and spaced-out feelings. She had gained over 40 pounds in the past 2 years and associated weight gain with increased illness.
She cleared within 10 days on Alpha ENF* stating: "I can't believe how much better I feel." She remained stable and content for several weeks using Alpha ENF during the day, adding Phase 1 foods for dinner. Her weight dropped 8 pounds in the first 20 days and continued to decrease at about a pound per week until new set-point was established 20 pounds below her high weight.
Abdominal Pain, Depression, Anxiety
A 68 year-old widow presented with an "irritable colon" for over 30 years. She tended to be constipated but had occasional bouts of loose to watery stools. Sometimes her stools we hard and pelleted and she would sometimes skip bowel movements for several days in a row. She described bloating and abdominal discomforts following any large meal For several years she avoided milk, which she thought aggravated the distension, although she continued to eat dairy products. She was also troubled by fatigue and had bouts of depression, which often occurred at the same time her digestive symptoms were most active. She lived alone and prepared her own meals. Her diet had been unconstrained until recently, with a preference for whole grain cereal foods, moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and vegetables, and a high consumption of fruit. During the past year, she increased her milk intake, hoping to obtain calcium and improve her general nutrition. Unfortunately, her general health deteriorated. She again stopped drinking milk and eating dairy products on the advice of a nutritionist and noted improvement in her digestive complaints and general status. She took a full range of vitamin and mineral supplements, in addition to digestive aids.
She decided to follow the medium track of Alpha Nutrition with two servings of Alpha ENF per day and well-cooked phase 1 foods. Complete symptom remission was achieved on Phase 1 and she preferred to hold this pattern for several weeks, only occasionally adding phase 2 foods.
Diarrhea, High Blood Pressure
This 29 year old professional man described a history of frequent episodes of crampy abdominal pain with bursts of diarrhea. He often had indigestion, bloating, and irregular bowel movements; he was sometimes constipated between bouts of diarrhea. Medical investigations had not revealed any specific abnormality and he had tried several prescription drugs with no benefit. Associated symptoms included weight gain, elevated cholesterol, and insomnia. He had typical spring hay fever to grass and tree pollens, with positive skin tests to pollens but not foods. His history suggested food allergy with GIT problems and increasing evidence of whole body problems, including flushing, rashes, fatigue, sleep disturbances and high blood pressure. His father had a history of high blood pressure and died in his late 50's of a heart attack.
He felt better after 10 days on Phase 1 of Alpha Nutrition but then relapsed two weeks later (over the Christmas holidays), eating everything. He was impressed by the return of all his symptoms and made a new year's resolution to clear again. He retreated to Alpha ENF for a complete food holiday with complete remission of symptoms in 7 days and then reintroduced Phase 1 foods over the next two weeks. He slowly introduced cooked phase 2 foods over the next 6 weeks and after 3 months on Alpha Nutrition had lost 20 pounds, his blood pressure had dropped from a high of 180/110 to 140/85 without medication, his cholesterol had dropped to within normal range, and his digestive problems had subsided.
Heartburn, Anger, Hyperactivity
A 27 year old mechanic presented with severe prolonged indigestion, often with heartburn, excess gas, and abdominal distention. He had irregular bowel movements, which varied from hard and pelleted to soft and mushy. He often passed foul gas. He had several investigations and tried several drugs with little benefit. He took 4-8 ounces of antacid per day. He ate poorly, with high bread, beef, and dairy intake. He craved milk and consumed at least 2 quarts per day. He stated that he had milk allergy as an infant with eczema, colic, and was a hyperactive child, who did not do well in school. He admitted to extreme moodiness, irritability, and frequent outbursts of inappropriate anger. He had trouble keeping friends and jobs. His marriage ended after 4 years. His wife left him because he was often angry and sometimes abusive. He regretted his behavior and stated that he often felt out-of-control, restless, with outbursts of aimless, hyperactive behavior. He seldom slept well. His nose was congested, lymph nodes enlarged, and he had a pustular rash covering his back.
Following the Alpha Nutrition Program, he cleared remarkably. With normal GIT function restored, he reported feeling calmer, clearer, and more in control. His symptoms returned promptly when he "fell-off-the-wagon", especially when he ate milk and wheat based foods such as pizza .
Diarrhea, Weight loss, Disability
A 44-year-old woman had become disabled by an progressive illness of several years duration. She developed GIT problems in her early 30's with bloating, and bouts of abdominal pain and diarrhea. She was repeatedly investigated for Crohn's disease, and treated symptomatically with little benefit. Since there was no evidence of intestinal damage or infection, she was told that there was no serious problem and to eat whatever she liked. She declined slowly with weight loss, increasing fatigue, and difficulty concentrating on her work. Many foods triggered her symptoms, and she began avoiding foods to avoid the disturbances they caused. She lost more weight and strength.
Her family physician accused her of anorexia and demanded that she eat fortified, milk-containing supplements. She complied and grew worse, with increasing episodes of exhaustion, fever, weakness, abdominal bloating and pain. She was a bright, conscientious woman who was very distressed by her declining health and alarmed by the "bad advice" she was receiving from MDs. She sought help from other advisors; a naturopath, a dietitian, and a nutritionist, who all provided conflicting advice; she remained ill.
When she was unable to work, an insurance company disputed her claim of a physical illness, and she was referred to a psychiatric unit where she received the worst treatment to date; they rejected all her claims of food reactivity, refused her a suitable diet and treated all her symptom reports as evidence of a mental disorder! The psychiatric diagnosis was "somatization disorder".
Fortunately, she finally came to the proper diagnosis and treatment of food allergy, improving dramatically on Alpha ENF. She then slowly reintroduced Alpha Nutrition foods and found she was most comfortable eating well-cooked Phase 1 foods and Alpha ENF. She had prompt and sometimes dramatic symptom recurrence if she ate beyond her safe foods and concluded that cow's milk and wheat were the worst foods for her to eat.
Diarrhea, Depression, Bingeing
A 38-year-old woman presented with a complex of problems, which included abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Depression and headache accompanied her GIT disturbances. She took Lomotil for diarrhea, Salazopyrin (a drug usually prescribed for ulcerative colitis), and an antidepressant. While on the antidepressant, her appetite increased and she gained 20 pounds. Her weight gain was associated with increased cravings for bread, pastries, and cookies which she ate in excess with increased abdominal bloating and diarrhea. She avoided milk but ate cheese, yogurt and ice cream. A physician had advised her to increase her yogurt intake.
The complex of irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and systemic illness suggests delayed pattern food allergy. Her high intake of cereal grains and dairy products suggests these foods are the main culprits. GIT surface reactivity is felt as pain, bloating and diarrhea, and the systemic illness emerges as a result of the "wrong stuff" entering her blood stream. Reynaud's phenomenon consists of fingers and/or toes which turn chalk white and numb after cold exposure and is often associated with circulating immune complexes, one of the chief mechanisms of food allergy.
Her cravings and compulsive eating posed a compliance problem, but she did rather well on Alpha Nutrition, with complete symptom remission during Phase 1, which she extended for 3 weeks. Three weeks after symptom remission was achieved, the antidepressant drug was slowly withdrawn.
Depression, Edema, Abdominal Bloating
A 43 year-old nurse described emotional instability, with outbursts of inappropriate anger. These disturbances increased during her premenstrual week. She had evidence that her diet altered her emotional status. She felt much better on a three-month weight-reduction diet that consisted mostly of vegetables, fruit, and poultry. Her physical symptoms improved, and she felt more stable emotionally. Her digestive tract symptoms included abdominal distention with pain, irregular bowel movements and she complained of a coated tongue with bad breath. She was aware of specific food reactivity; bloating and diarrhea followed cheesecake ingestion and bloating with headaches were a usual consequence of eating too much chocolate or drinking hot chocolate milk. Her usual diet was nutritionally well balanced but she favored whole grains, beginning with 7-grain cereal in the morning, whole wheat bread for lunch, and, often, whole-wheat pastas for dinner. Her favorite snack was bran muffins, and she often only ate muffins at work in the hospital. Complete symptom remission was achieved on the Alpha Nutrition Program.