6 of the Best IBS Diets to Avoid Flare-Ups
Irritable bowel syndrome, or simply referred to as IBS, is an intestinal disorder that causes changes in a person’s bowel movements. Symptoms associated with IBS include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
If you are affected by this chronic disorder, you do not have to agonize over what foods to eat. You can minimize the symptoms of IBS by following a healthy, balanced diet, along with managing lifestyle and stress.
Here, we explore some of the most common IBS diets that help in easing the symptoms and preventing flare-ups.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Triggers Cause the IBS Symptoms to Flare Up?
- 2 6 Best IBS Diets: What Foods You Can Eat
- 3 General Tips for Relieving IBS Symptoms
What Triggers Cause the IBS Symptoms to Flare Up?
Although IBS is not the same for everyone, knowing the most common triggers will help you keep track of how to react to them and prevent them. When you are aware of the triggers that make the IBS symptoms worse, you should make a plan of avoiding them.
Diet Triggers that Make IBS Constipation Worse
- Cereals and bread made with refined grains 1
- High-protein diet
- Carbonated drinks, coffee, and alcohol
- Dairy products like cheese
- Processed foods, including cookies and chips
- Foods like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts, and onions that are hard to digest
Diet Triggers that Make IBS Diarrhea Worse
- High amounts of fiber, especially those that are found in the skin of vegetables and fruits 1
- Fatty and fried foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Drinks and food with alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, sorbitol, or fructose
- Dairy products, specifically in those who cannot digest lactose or milk sugar
- Foods with wheat, especially for those who are allergic to gluten
6 Best IBS Diets: What Foods You Can Eat
The below are 6 of the top-recommended IBS diets:
1. Fiber-rich Diet
Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, is beneficial for those who struggle with irregular stools or constipation, as it increases stool bulk and promotes the movement of bowels.
As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), most people only consume 5-14 g of fiber per day while the daily fiber requirement of an average adult is 20-35 g 2.
Soluble fiber, obtained from beans, peas, apples, oats, barley, carrots, citrus fruits, and psyllium, is usually recommended to people who experience bloating from excess fiber consumption.
2. Gluten-free Diet
Gluten, a protein that occurs in grain products like pasta and bread, can cause significant damage to the intestines in those with sensitivity to gluten. Some of them may also suffer from IBS.
In order to ease the symptoms of IBS, you should go on a gluten-free diet. It involves the elimination of wheat, rye, and barley from the diet. Many grocery stores and health food stores now sell gluten-free versions of food products such as pasta and bread.
3. Low-fiber Diet
For some people affected by IBS, increasing fiber consumption can make symptoms worse if they keep getting gas and diarrhea. While completely eliminating fiber from your diet is a solution, concentrating on food sources like apples, carrots, berries, and oatmeal, which contain soluble fiber, is a more feasible choice.
As soluble fiber easily dissolves in water, it does not make the stool extra bulky. If you are prone to diarrhea, you may consult your doctor and take anti-diarrheal medications before taking fiber in order to lessen the effects. Make sure that you do not make a habit of taking it.
4. Low-fat Diet
Long-term consumption of foods with high-fat content can contribute to various health issues, including obesity. It can also be hard on people with IBS, as it makes the symptoms flare-up. High-fat foods, being low in fiber, can be a trigger for IBS-related constipation and diarrhea.
By following a low-fat diet, you give your gut the chance to heal and prevent the uncomfortable symptoms from flaring up. Instead of consuming animal fats and fried foods, try to include vegetables, grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats in your diet.
5. Elimination Diet
It is a diet that requires you to avoid some foods for a long period to find out whether the symptoms improve. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders says that you need to cut out the following four items:
- Insoluble fiber
Aside from the foods mentioned in the list, you should remove any other food that you suspect. Make sure to fully eliminate each of the foods for about 11-12 weeks one at a time. Once you stop taking a food item, note the differences in your symptoms before moving on to the next item on the list.
FODMAP or ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols’ are carbohydrates that are not easily digested by the intestines 3.
Researchers have found that these carbs increase the fluid content in the bowel and produce more gas. The upsurge in gas and fluid in the bowel changes the speed of digestion and results in bloating. If you are troubled by pain, gas, and diarrhea, you should avoid eating these types of carbs.
- Learn more about the Low FODMAP Diet
Foods that you should eat less
- Yogurt, pudding, cow’s milk, ice cream, custard, cheese, and mascarpone
- Grains like rye and wheat
- Vegetables, including peaches, pears, apples, mangoes, cherries, and watermelon
- Added fiber like inulin
- Sweeteners, including agave nectar and honey
- Fruits, such as cherries, mangoes, pears, peaches, and watermelon
- Products that contain high amounts of fructose like corn syrup
- Vegetables like broccoli
- Kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soy products
- Vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflowers, and snow peas
- Fruits, including apricots, apples, cherries, blackberries, pears, nectarines, plums, watermelons, and peaches
- Sweeteners, such as mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, isomalt, and xylitol found in sugar-free mints, gums, drops, and cough medicines.
Foods that you should eat more
- Vegetables: Bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, chives, bamboo shoots, bok choy, olives, lettuce, eggplant, ginger, spring onions, potatoes, turnips, and parsnips
- Fruits: Oranges, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, lemon, lime, kiwi, honeydew, grapefruit, and cantaloupe
- Dairy: Coconut milk, rice milk, lactose-free yogurt, lactose-free milk, lactose-free yogurt, and hard cheeses like brie and feta
- Seeds/nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, macadamia, and almonds
- Grain: Corn, quinoa, rice, oat, gluten-free pasta, rice bran, and oat bran
- Protein: Chicken, beef, pork, fish, tofu, and eggs
Although some health professionals think that the low FODMAP diet is quite restrictive, those who follow the diet stick with it since it improves their symptoms.
General Tips for Relieving IBS Symptoms
There is no specific diet or medication that will help everyone with IBS. However, there are some lifestyle changes that will help lessen the symptoms.
- Cook homemade meals with fresh ingredients when it is possible
- Do not skip meals
- Avoid drinking more than three cups of coffee or tea per day
- Try having probiotics for one month and see if it helps
- Do not drink plenty of fizzy drinks or alcohol
- If you frequently suffer from diarrhea, drink lots of water to prevent dehydration
- Get lots of exercises
- Avoid eating too quickly
Although the abovementioned diets are designed to help people with IBS, choosing the best diet that works for you could be tricky. Everyone is different, and so are their diet needs.
If you suspect you have IBS, observe your symptoms, and consult a doctor before going for a new diet. Wait and see how your body copes up with these diets. You may have to change some of the foods that you eat.
Are you a SIBO patient? Read our article: Ultimate SIBO Diet Guide