IBS While Being Kosher
Last updated: March 2022
I have kept kosher since I was 9 years old. Okay, partially kosher. I don't eat meat and dairy together (when I was younger, I used to wait 3 hours to consume dairy after consuming meat, then an hour and a half, and now it's closer to 30 minutes or less. I digress.), I don't eat shellfish. I do not eat pork (and other animals that do not both have split hooves and chew its cud). Kosher dietary laws extend much further than that (meat has to be specifically kosher - killed, butchered, and blessed by a rabbi in a particular way, for instance), but 99 percent of the time, I stick with the basic 3 sections I mentioned.
Kosher style and IBS
I genuinely think that being kosher-"style" has helped IBS symptoms. Now, being kosher means following Jewish dietary law, so it isn't for everyone, but I am talking about specifically me here. When I dine on a meal that includes meat (in kosher law, this does not include fish, which has its separate laws), that meal will not include any dairy products, including during the dessert. Eating meats like beef and lamb, both kosher, tends to overstimulate the gut.
I am a meat-eater; I eat meat at least once a week, and I definitely know I need to moderate my portion size when it comes to eating meat if I don't want to send myself to the washroom. Dairy tends to be a trigger for IBS symptoms as well. So, staying away from mixing meat that I would generally eat and any sort of dairy, I believe, has definitely helped me over the years. For me, both a heavy meat meal and too much dairy tend to cause bloating, and it can really vary if it's diarrhea or constipation because I have IBS-M.
Digestive issues among Jewish populations
What's slightly ironic about this is that the rate of having digestive issues is slightly higher in Jews than non-Jews. Ashkenazi Jews, the diaspora population that had fled to Central and Eastern Europe, in particular, are much more likely to have digestive issues (including Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, and IBS) than the average non-Jewish European/non-Jewish person with European ancestry. As evident by the fact that I'm typing this, I am part of that statistic of Ashkenazi Jews with digestive issues.
Keeping kosher helps my IBS
That being said, I still attest that separating meat and dairy is better on a digestive system already being battered by itself.
Pork is also meat that tends to sit heavier on the digestive system, despite being listed as a safe food in a FODMAP diet. Pig meat tends to become greasy foods like bacon and sausage; greasy foods are the enemy for those with IBS (as mentioned in a previous article, we cannot do the greasy breakfast after a night of drinking — it does not do as well).
Shellfish is the only one that doesn't really make a difference either way. All fish, in general, is lighter on the digestive system than "actual" meat, and so adding dairy to fish (cooking it in butter, for instance) doesn't usually provide the same upset that meat and dairy would. Shellfish can tend to blockade the system only when it's fried, deep-fried, etc. — which is not the "fault" of the seafood itself.
Overall, I do find keeping kosher helps me stay away from rich/heavy meal options and greasy options.
Do you have trouble trying to balance your diet with multiple illnesses?
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