Diet and Nutrition for IBS

Diet and Nutrition for IBS

by Yenny (SU)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable disorder characterized by dramatic changes in digestive and bowel functions. Abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, cramps, gas, and diarrhea are common IBS symptoms.

Medical intervention is important in the treatment of IBS, but lifestyle and appropriate dietary and nutritional habits need to be integrated into the overall management of this chronic disease.

The proper IBS diet plan can make the difference between living a normal, active lifestyle versus feeling like you have to stay at home all day to deal with your IBS symptoms.

IBS Trigger Foods 

Various foods that can trigger IBS are high in fat, caffeine, carbonation, alcohol, and insoluble fiber. These food categories either stimulate or irritate the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, eliciting violent reactions in the gastrocolic reflex. These affect the colon muscles to cause constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and pain. 

Eating safely for IBS means realizing how different foods physically affect the GI tract.

Low-FODMAP Diet 

The low-FODMAP diet is aimed at reducing or avoiding certain foods that contain hard-to-digest carbohydrates. These carbs are lumped together for the diet’s purposes as FODMAPs: “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.” 

These are short-chain carbohydrates (chains of up to 10 sugars) that can irritate the small intestine because of their difficulty in absorption. These carbs take in extra water into the bowel, which causes an increase in gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Foods that are high in FODMAPs, and therefore should be avoided by those with IBS, include: 

·      Vegetables including cauliflower, beans, mushrooms, artichokes, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, onions, and sugar, snap, and snow peas. 

·      Dairy products with lactose such as milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. 

·      Fruits and fruit juices from apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, mango, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, and watermelon.

·      Canned fruit including natural or artificial fruit juice, or dried fruit.

·      Wheat and rye products and baked goods, including breads, cereals, and pasta.

·      Candy and gum containing sweeteners containing maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.

·      Honey and high-fructose corn syrup. 

·      Legumes and lentils. 

·      Cashews and pistachios.

Limiting intake of high-FODMAP foods for six to eight weeks can greatly improve your IBS symptoms.

Eat More Fiber 

Fiber improves constipation by softening stools. Adults should get 22-34 grams of fiber a day.

Soluble fiber is found in:

·      Brown rice

·      Barley

·      Flax

·      Beans

·      Oats

·      Seeds           

Insoluble fiber is found in whole-grain products and some vegetables. 

Add soluble fiber gradually to your diet, as too much at once can trigger IBS symptoms. Soluble fiber is broken down by natural gut bacteria, so it helps maintain regularity by stretching and working the muscles of the colon. 

Adding high-fiber foods can improve IBS symptoms; be aware of the fact that it may increase discomfort, because everyone is different. Adjust your fiber intake according to your own personal symptoms, and pay attention to how your body reacts to different foods.

Eating Habits to Control IBS 

Small lifestyle changes in food habits can improve IBS symptoms, including the following:

·      Don’t skip meals.

·      Eat meals on a regular schedule.

·      Chew your food well.

·      Don’t rush through meals.

·      Sit down to eat.

·      Avoid eating late at night.

·      Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Who Can Help with My IBS? 

Diet, lifestyle changes, and medical supervision can together help you manage your IBS. At Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, we thoroughly evaluate your symptoms and identify your condition so we can correctly prescribe treatments and medications – thereby controlling your IBS pain and discomfort.

If you are experiencing symptoms of IBS or other gastric disorders, call us today at (410) 224-2116 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you feel well again.