IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that effects roughly 2 in 10 British citizens. IBS affects the digestive system leading to symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and constipation. Symptoms tend to come and go however at its worse IBS sufferers can experience symptoms for days, weeks and even months at a time.
For IBS sufferers a well-managed diet is one of the most effective ways of managing and reducing symptoms. Certain foods can worsen IBS symptoms and eliminating these foods from the diet provides relief. In today’s article we will look at 10 foods you should avoid if you have IBS. It is worth noting that some each person with IBS will have different food triggers. However, we have collated the most common food groups that can trigger IBS.
Many types of dairy are high in fat, for those with IBS this can lead to diarrhoea. However, low fat or non-fat dairy may reduce symptoms. Thankfully, these days there are a wide range of dairy alternatives and plant milks as well and non-dairy cheeses.
For some it may mean needing to completely cut out dairy, if this is the case for you be sure to consume other calcium-rich foods such as: Nuts, greens, beans, sardines, seeds.
Aside from generally being a wise choice to reduce processed foods from your diet, for IBS sufferers processed foods can also worsen symptoms. Process foods like deep fried chips, ready meals and process meals contain a lot of added salt, sugar and fat. Eating too much of these things is bad for anyone. Although those with IBS have the added risk that many of these foods contain additives and preservatives that may trigger an IBS flare-up.
Investing into buying fresh produce to use for meals you make at home and limiting the frequency of ordering fast food can go a long way in reducing IBS flare-ups.
Unfortunately for those with IBS Sugar-free sweeteners can be an overlooked source of problems. Sweeteners that can be found in sugarless sweets, gum, diet drinks, mouthwash. Typically, these sweeteners come in the form of sucralose, acesulfame potassium, aspartame.
Chemicals in artificial sweeteners can be hard for the body to absorb especially in those with IBS. This can lead to gas, digestive discomfort, and laxative effects. Be sure to read the ingredient labels of sugar-free products to avoid consuming them.
Caffeine can worsen symptoms of IBS as caffeine increases gut motility and can also increase stress hormones like cortisol which may cause over activation in the pathways between the brain and gut. It is thought that the communication between brain and gut is the main cause of IBS. Caffeine can be found not only in coffee and tea but in lots of soft drinks & energy drinks.
Capsaicin is the active component of chili which are commonly reported to trigger IBS-like symptoms – for some of those with IBS this can lead to abdominal pain. It is believed that IBS patients have a greater number of a specific type of nerve fibre that reacts with pain to foods containing chili peppers. If you enjoy cuisines that regularly use chili try looking for dishes that don’t contain chili peppers.
Beans and legumes:
Despite being a great source of protein and fibre, beans, lentils, and peas can cause symptoms of IBS symptoms. These foods contain oligosaccharides that are resistant to digestion by intestinal enzymes. Beans can increase gas, bloating and cramps in IBS patients.
Avoiding beans and legumes where possible may help reduce symptoms of IBS. However, if you still want to eat beans or lentils you can make them easier to digest by soaking them overnight and rinsing them before cooking. These steps help the body digest them more easily.
Chocolate bars are typically high in fat and sugar which often contain lactose and caffeine. All these things can be often linked to IBS symptoms such as constipation. For chocolate lovers this may be bad news however these days there are several vegan options that many with IBS find easier to digestive without problems.
Broccoli and cauliflower:
Both broccoli and cauliflower are difficult for the body to digest for some this may trigger symptoms of IBS. When your intestines break down these foods, it causes gas and in some people constipation, this can even apply for those without IBS.
However, most issues with vegetables and IBS come from eating them raw so by cooking vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower well, this can negate IBS symptoms associated with eating them.
For people with IBS alcohol can have a negative reaction for them. This is due to the way the body digests alcohol, drinking alcohol can irritate the gut which can lead to a flare-up in symptoms. Which may take the form of cramping or bloating. For those especially sensitive to alcohol they may experience diarrhoea.
Beer is a particularly risky option as it often contains gluten which can also worsen symptoms for some with IBS. If you choose to drink, then it might be a good idea to consider choosing gluten-free beer or a drink mixed with plain seltzer that doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or added sugar.
Fibre is important in a person’s diet as it keeps the gut healthy. However, it is important to be careful of the type of fibre you eat if you suffer with IBS. Fibre can be split into two types, soluble and insoluble. Most plant food will contain both, but some are higher in one type than another.
Insoluble fibre may be found in things such as whole grain products and vegetables. These types of fibre can worsen IBS symptoms. Try instead opting for soluble fibre such at oat products, rice and barley. As well trying soluble fibre supplements can ensure you stay healthy whilst avoiding certain food types.
In summary, with this advice, you cannot be expected to totally eradicate every single thing which may worsen IBS. Every sufferer will be triggered by different food types in different amounts, it is important to keep a close eye on what foods worsen your condition and look to remove those as you find them. Nowadays IBS is more manageable than ever with a wide range of treatments available to help ease symptoms. Combining medication with a well-managed diet can go a long way in reducing IBS symptoms.