Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition that causes various abdominal symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, or both. Although the triggers for the condition may differ from person to person, doctors have outlined some common foods that may cause digestive symptoms. Following some dietary tips may be effective for IBS patients to curb the symptoms as some foods may trigger or aggravate the condition.
To manage IBS better, eliminating trigger foods and then slowly reintroducing them into the diet one at a time can help identify the ones that may be worsening the symptoms for a person. Doctors recommend IBS dietary tips under the FODMAP guidelines, which refers to Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyps. These represent the various types of carbohydrates that aggravate IBS symptoms and cause gas, stomach ache, and constipation.
Here are some dietary tips for IBS patients with a list of foods to avoid:
1. Insoluble fiber
Fiber adds bulk to the diet, and some veggies, fruits, and whole grains contain fiber. Different people have different tolerance levels when it comes to fiber, and the insoluble variety may trigger or even worsen diarrhea in some people. Instead, increase the intake of soluble fiber as it can relieve constipation.
2. Dairy products
Dairy contains fat, which triggers diarrhea, but fat-free or low-fat dairy can be consumed to relieve the symptoms. In addition, many people are lactose intolerant, in which case alternatives like soy milk or rice milk can be opted for.
3. Gluten-based foods
Gluten is a protein mainly present in all kinds of grains like wheat, rye, and barley, and gluten intolerance can lead to celiac disease with symptoms like diarrhea-dominated IBS. Cakes, pizza, pasta, cookies, and bread should be avoided to prevent this.
4. Legumes and beans
These are excellent sources of fiber and protein, but they may also trigger IBS symptoms. While beans help relieve constipation, they also cause bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
5. Fried foods
All kinds of fried foods are IBS triggers as they contain a high amount of fat. Also, frying food makes it difficult to digest, so baking or grilling should be considered instead.
6. Artificial sweeteners
Sugar-free foods are not necessarily healthy, especially for IBS patients, as artificial sweeteners are present in sugar-free candies, most non-sugar drinks, gum, and mouthwash. These are packed with aspartame, acesulfame, and sucralose, which make it difficult for the body to absorb.
7. Caffeinated drinks
Any caffeinated drink, including tea and coffee, can have stimulating effects on the intestines and cause diarrhea. In worse cases, it may also trigger IBS, so it is better to avoid them.
8. Foods to eat as part of an IBS diet
Follow the low-FODMAP model as research suggests that high-FODMAP foods are difficult to digest and may cause gas, diarrhea, and pain. Here’s a list of foods safe for IBS patients to eat:
- Dairy-free or lactose-free alternatives
- Fruits like strawberries, kiwi, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe
- Veggies like lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, turnips, bok choy, eggplant, and cucumbers
- Proteins like chicken, tofu, fish, and beef
- Cheese like brie and feta