What Is The Best Diet For IBS?

Tummy troubles? You could have IBS.

Clearing out problematic foods can make a huge difference in reducing your IBS symptoms.

For a lot of people with irritable bowel syndrome (a disorder that affects the large intestine and often causes bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea, constipation and pain) controlling the condition requires a specific strategy that involves healthy eating and reducing stress over a long period of time, and this starts with figuring out which foods are causing tummy troubles.

It is very important to record what you eat, as well as your symptoms, to help figure out which foods are the trigger to digestive stress. Unfortunately, the results are different for each individual. Sometimes it’s not possible to figure this out on your own, and you could need assistance from a healthcare professional.

"It's important to understand that most negative reactions to food in people with IBS represent a food intolerance or food sensitivity, not an allergy." - Jane Haines (Digestive health specialist)

If you’re not quite sure what foods are causing your stressful symptoms, there are certain items you should try removing from your diet. The most common suspects:

Milk and Lactose: Did you know up to 70 percent of adults around the world don’t actually produce large quantities of lactase, (the enzyme that breaks down the sugar lactose in milk)

Therefore, milk and other dairy products can easily cause gas and bloating, since that lactose gets broken down by the bacteria in our colon/large intestine.

To limit lactose in your diet, you can switch to lactose-free milks (nut, oat, or rice milks). Also, avoid the butter and try using vegetable oils or a nondairy spread.

Fruits and Fructose: A type of sugar, that can cause problems for individuals with IBS. Sources of fructose include dried fruits, pears, apples and fruit juices.

Fruits that have less fructose, could be more tolerable:

Bananas, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cranberries, Grapes, Strawberries and Kiwis.

While acidic citrus fruits tend to be lower in fructose, they can also act as an IBS trigger in some people, so you may need to potentially avoid oranges, lemons, and limes.

Cruciferous vegetables can actually be more difficult to digest than others because of the compounds inside them (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and kale). Other veggies that could be hard to digest include: Asparagus, Onions, and leeks.

However, a high amount of vegetables tend to be well tolerated by most individuals with IBS such as: Carrots, eggplant, celery, green beans, sweet potatoes, and yams.

Beans and Legumes: The majority of people with IBS should limit beans in their diet and try to get enough fiber from other sources.

If you often chew sugarless gum, watch out for any symptoms they may cause and consider looking for products containing alternative sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. It is well known that chewing gum can lead to excess bloating, as air gets pushed into the stomach.

The Low-FODMAP Diet

For a lot of people with IBS, following a healthy lifestyle and diet, and avoiding well known food triggers, will equal relief from stressful digestive health symptoms.

But some people still experience issues after following the general approach. If this is you, you could benefit from trying a more special approach to dieting, such as a low-FODMAP diet, which cuts down on many of the most known IBS triggers.

FODMAP - which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Together, are a group of carbohydrates found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products, however, they are often difficult to digest...

What to Eat on a Low-FODMAP Diet

The primary approach is to eat healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

A low-FODMAP eating plan will consist of these items:

Meat & eggs

Almond or oat milk

Grains like rice, quinoa and oats/oatmeal

Fruits like tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, and kiwi's

Vegetables including cucumbers, eggplant, and potatoes.

Harder cheeses, such as cheddar, parmesan, and feta, as well as aged soft cheeses like brie.

Here are '150+ Dietitian Reviewed Low Fodmap Recipes' to get you started on your journey to better digestive health.

Always speak with a nutritionist or health professional before starting a new diet. 

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