The role of diet in disease has been food for debate for centuries. “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food”, said Hippocrates. And “He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician” is an old Chinese proverb. You might argue that the only part of your digestive tract that you truly control is the first 7 centimetres – control it well and your problems will be solved! But the truth is far more complex.
People looking for a diet to solve the problems of irritable bowel syndrome may be disappointed. Dietary measures can help some people some of the time, but there is usually a great deal of trial and error. Variability between individuals and within the same individual over time makes it difficult to give dietary advice.The idea that all people with irritable bowel syndrome just need a little more fibre in their diet has been dismissed, and the role of fibre is discussed mainly in the chapter on constipation. That said, a little more fibre or other dietary alterations do work for some people. Food allergies and intolerance, which are a source of great controversy, are where different types of elimination diets are presented.