IBS & Diet Tips

  • October 25, 2021
IBS

Is IBS related to my diet?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is an uncomfortable disorder causing on-and-off abdominal symptoms and wild swings in bowel movements. Some people have diarrhea, while others suffer from constipation. Bloating, cramps and abdominal pain can pile on the misery and seriously hamper day-to-day activities.

Poor and irregular dietary habits, along with lack of exercise and sleep disorders have been pegged as risk factors for developing IBS by research on this disorder. Some doctors also describe IBS as a “dysregulation of the brain–gut axis”. It is one of the most common functional bowel disorderswithout any accompanying structural defect. Although prevalence is known to be higher in Western countries as compared to Asia, IBS has been steadily on the rise in India in recent times, with nearly 15% of our population afflicted.

What role does diet play in IBS?

Diet does play a significant role and many people with IBS complain about their symptoms being exacerbated by certain foods. However, there’s no need to despair, since there are still plenty of foods which are absolutely safe for those suffering from IBS. Doctors and dietitians recommend a healthy, balanced diet of three meals and two to three snacks a day. As a thumb rule, make sure to consume lots of fibre, fruits and vegetables, lean meats,grains and low-fat dairy products, and avoid fried and fatty foods. It’s important to remember here that each IBS patient reacts differently to different foods. So, there can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution.

Some diet tips for IBS:

  • Cooked vegetables are fine, but it’s probably wise to steer clear of cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli – which could cause too much gas. If you tolerate those well, go for them.
  • Fruits without the skins are better. Melons, apples and citrus fruits don’t suit some.
  • Increasing fibre content might help some.
  • If you do not have celiac diasease or a gluten intolerance, bread, pasta, rice, etc are usually well tolerated.
  • Dairy products will not suit those who are lactose-intolerant. However, lactose-free milk products are now available quite easily.
  • People with IBS can enjoy meat, chicken and fish.
  • Spices, sauces, or fried foods could be problematic.
  • Snacks like baked potato chips, rice cakes, frozen yogurt, low-fat yogurt and fruits might be easy on the tummy.
  • If you know the foods which are potential symptom triggers, you could try to re-introduce those back into your diet by having a small portion and choosing only one trigger food at a time.
  • It’s better to prepare foods by grilling, baking, or steaming with little to no oil. A cooking spray in place of oil might help.

Stick to a low FODMAP diet:

FODMAPs, the acronym for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols”, are carbohydrates which our intestines find difficult to digest.These carbs are known to suck more water into the bowel, thus worsening IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Among the foods to avoid are:

  • Lactose (found in milk, ice-cream, cheese, yogurt)
  • Certain fruits like peaches, watermelon, pears, mangoes, apples, plums
  • Breads and cereals made with refined (not whole) grains
  • Processed foods like chips and cookies
  • Coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol
  • Legumes
  • Sweeteners
  • Cashews and pistachios
  • A few vegetables like artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, onions, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc

What is my best IBS diet?

There isn’t any copybook diet for IBS. Yes, certain foods can help some people with IBS, but everyone reacts differently to different foods. So, you should share your symptoms with your doctor before starting a new diet. Observe how your body reacts to certain foods, and you might need to tweak the foods you eat accordingly. Of course, it helps everyone with IBS to drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and go slow on caffeine intake to keep IBS symptoms under check.

Though lifestyle changes usually help in keeping the IBS symptoms under control, severe aggravations sometimes need treatment with medications. Our experienced team of Gastroenterologists can help you manage you condition better.

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