How Diet Can Help with IBS: A Comprehensive Guide
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. While there is no cure for IBS, there are several dietary changes that can help manage symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll explore how diet can help with IBS and the foods to avoid and include in your diet.
What is IBS?
IBS is a common digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a chronic condition that can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea (1). The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is believed to be related to abnormal contractions of the intestinal muscles, inflammation, and changes in the gut microbiome.
How Can Diet Help with IBS?
Diet plays a crucial role in managing IBS symptoms. Certain foods can trigger symptoms, while others can help relieve them. The following dietary changes can help manage IBS symptoms:
1. Avoid Trigger Foods
Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms, including dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, and high-fat foods (2). It’s important to identify your trigger foods and avoid them as much as possible.
2. Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber can help regulate bowel movements and relieve constipation. However, it’s important to increase your fiber intake gradually to avoid worsening symptoms. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
3. Limit Gas-Producing Foods
Gas-producing foods can worsen bloating and gas in people with IBS. These foods include beans, lentils, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and carbonated drinks (3). Limiting or avoiding these foods can help manage symptoms.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water can help regulate bowel movements and prevent dehydration, which can worsen constipation.
5. Consider Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health (4). They are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, or can be taken as supplements.
Foods to Include in Your Diet
In addition to the dietary changes mentioned above, there are several foods that can help manage IBS symptoms. These include:
1. Low-FODMAP Foods
FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that can cause digestive symptoms in some people. Following a low-FODMAP diet can help manage IBS symptoms. Low-FODMAP foods include rice, oats, quinoa, bananas, blueberries, carrots, cucumber, and bell peppers.
2. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is a natural remedy that can help relieve abdominal pain and bloating.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve nausea and vomiting. (5)
Diet plays a crucial role in managing IBS symptoms. Certain foods can trigger symptoms, while others can help relieve them. It’s important to identify your trigger foods and avoid them as much as possible. Increasing fiber intake, limiting gas-producing foods, drinking plenty of water, and considering probiotics can also help manage symptoms. Including low-FODMAP foods, peppermint oil, and ginger in your diet can further help manage symptoms. If you are struggling with IBS symptoms, speak to a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.
If you are struggling with IBS symptoms, reach out to book a consultation with one of our Registered Dietitians here!
- NHS, 2021. What is IBS?. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/
- Cozma-Petruţ, A., Loghin, F., Miere, D. & Dumitraşcu, D. L., 2017. Diet in irritable bowel syndrome: What to recommend, not what to forbid to patients!. World Journal Gastroenterology, 23(21), p. 3771–3783.
- Zugasti Murillo, A., Estremera Arévalo, F. & Petrina Jáuregui, E., 2016. Diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: Indications and design. Endocrinology and Nutrition, 63(3), pp. 132-138.
- NHS, 2021. Diet, lifestyle and medicines. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/diet-lifestyle-and-medicines/
- Rostamkhani, M. et al., 2018. The effect of ginger on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized clinical trial.. Journal of Medicinal Plants, 17(68).