Foods to eat and avoid when suffering from irritable bowel syndrome
People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are quite often confused about their food intake. Though IBS can take different forms in different people, most affected people suffer from constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating. It is difficult to understand which food will prevent both constipation and diarrhea along with the other symptoms. As such, it is good to have some idea about what to eat and what to avoid in order to prevent irritable bowel syndrome. In order to help you understand the implications of different food items on IBS, let’s divide the food items in three broad categories—foods that may trigger irritable bowel syndrome, foods that may worsen irritable bowel syndrome, and foods that are good for irritable bowel syndrome.
Foods that may trigger irritable bowel syndrome
Foods that may trigger IBS include the following:
- Breads made with refined grains
- Processed foods like cookies and chips
- Diets with high protein content
- Dairy products especially cheese
- Food containing too much of insoluble fiber like skin of vegetables and fruits
- Food and drinks containing fructose
- Alcohol and other carbonated drinks
- Fried and fatty foods
You should also abstain from eating large meals, eating too quickly, eating while working, etc. If you are allergic to gluten, then you also need to avoid wheat and go with rice and rice staples. Try to spread your meals in 3, 5, or 6 scheduled small meals. Moreover, you should not rush through your meals.
Avoid meals that over-stimulate your gut like high fat foods. If you are constipated, try to make sure you have breakfast, as this is the meal that is most likely to stimulate the colon and give you a bowel movement.
Foods that may worsen irritable bowel syndrome
There are foods which may not trigger irritable bowel syndrome, but may aid in aggravation of the problem. A group of Australian researchers has produced evidence in favor of their argument that a group of short-chain carbohydrates are problematic for those suffering from IBS. They have named these foods as Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols (FODMAP). They observed that the small intestine cannot absorb these short-chain carbohydrates well and are fermented by bacteria present in the gut. This leads to formation of gas, which contributes to the symptoms of IBS in a major way.
They also observed that about 75% of patients suffering from IBS have responded well to restriction in intake of such food. Restriction of food items falling under the FODMAP category may also improve gut problems in 50% or more patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.
Why does this happen?
Fibers are important for stool formation and normal bowel function. Long-chain carbohydrates are resistant to digestion and are, therefore, useful for stool formation and normal bowel function.
What do you need to do?
You need to increase the amount of food with long chain carbohydrates in your diet. You can get a variety of such foods and can design a diet based on your preferences and lifestyle. Though this may not cure your IBS, it certainly can allow you to manage the symptoms successfully. Some foods like broccoli, onions, cabbage, beans, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, raisins, celery, etc. have a tendency to abate the formation of gas. This can make your symptoms worse. So, it is better to avoid these foods items.
Foods that are good for irritable bowel syndrome
Some of the most recommended food items to avoid IBS include the following:
- Moderate amounts of whole wheat bread
- Whole-grain pasta
- Brown rice
- Flesh of fruit and dried fruits
All these items contain soluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool.
Good practice of eating
Along with maintaining a proper and regular diet, you also need to maintain a good practice of eating. Remember to eat smaller portions so as not to aggravate the problems. Also drink water about an hour before or after meals, but not during eating. One more word of caution: Do not eat food items of extreme opposite temperatures as part of the same meal.
Irritable bowel syndrome takes a toll on the large intestine and is a common disorder amongst people, especially due to the modern lifestyle habits that we follow. It is a condition where the impact could be far fetched. The worst part is only a fraction of people do show symptoms or signs associated with the disorder. A combination of altering your lifestyle and managing stress levels could keep the disorder at bay. However, if the symptoms assume out of bound propositions, then counselling with varied types of medication can provide timely relief.