Diet Changes That Minimize Symptoms of IBS
Consult with your primary care physician regarding any dietary changes you make for IBS. Your doctor can make recommendations based on your medical history, medications you take and any underlying health issues you already have. A registered dietitian can help by providing dietary recommendations for your condition.
Experiment With Fiber
Fiber can both alleviate and exacerbate IBS symptoms. Too little fiber may cause constipation, while too much fiber may lead to diarrhea. Slowly increase the amount of dietary fiber in your diet over several weeks by consuming foods high in fiber. Examples of high-fiber foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. If food does not seem to help, go back to your regular diet and try taking a fiber-based supplement dissolved in water. Drink plenty of water every day to reduce bloating, gas and constipation.
Avoid Foods That Cause Problems
Avoid problem foods that could make your IBS symptoms worse. If you eat something and your digestion worsens, stop eating that particular food. Common triggers for IBS include alcohol, caffeinated products, dairy, chocolate and sugar-free sweeteners such as mannitol and sorbitol. If you have problems with gas, avoid beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Fatty foods may also present problems for some people with IBS.
FODMAPs are certain carbohydrates and related alcohols; the term encompasses fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Since people with IBS may have sensitivities to foods that contain FODMAPs, trying a low-FODMAP diet might provide some relief. Limit or eliminate fructose from fruits, honey and high-fructose corn syrup. Avoid lactose from dairy products. Wheat, onions and garlic produce fructans, which can ferment in your gut and cause problems; beans, lentils and soybeans break down to galactans, which may also cause problems as they ferment. Refrain from consuming polyols, a class that includes sugar alcohols that come from pitted or seeded fruits such as avocados, apples, cherries, peaches and plums. Try avoiding all five forms of FODMAPs for four weeks to see if doing so alleviates your IBS symptoms.
Some patients report that probiotics help alleviate IBS symptoms since these supplements may increase beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract. Beneficial bacteria in your small intestines help your body's natural digestive process by breaking down food effectively.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes digestive difficulties in your gastrointestinal tract by affecting muscle movements that help digest food. IBS causes your muscles to move too fast or too slow, triggering diarrhea or constipation, respectively. Certain foods and meals may exacerbate or alleviate symptoms of IBS, so lifestyle changes could help you tackle this disorder at home.