IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a widespread digestive issue. It is a very real problem for so many people and it can have a major impact on their quality of life.

Major signs and symptoms include: bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramps and flatulence (gas).

The cause of IBS is unknown. A study published in 2015 in the journal Drugs and Therapies Bulletin states that roughly 60% of patients with IBS identify food as a trigger for their symptoms (1)

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So what are the foods to eat for IBS? Let’s take a look…

One thing to note is that the effect of diet is unique to each individual. There is no universal dietary advice that will work for everyone. So as a guide…

1) Avoid gluten

Foods not containing gluten are foods to eat for IBS. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley. It has been shown to cause damage to the synapses in your gut which can lead to diarrhoea and constipation. A study published in 2013 in the Gastroenterology Journal showed that patients with diarrhoea-predominant IBS benefitted from a gluten-free diet. Gluten was found to alter their bowel barrier function(2).

2) Low FODMAPs

Low FODMAPs are foods to eat for IBS.

FODMAPs (FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are short chain carbohydrates that a number of individuals cannot digest.

These undigested carbohydrates reach the large intestine and are used by the bacteria in your digestive system for energy, this produces hydrogen gas which causes various digestive symptoms including diarrhoea and flatulence

A study published in 2012 in the Sage Journals (Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology) found a link between FODMAPs  and IBS.  FODMAPs was implicated in the start of bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and wind (3).

Here is a list of some high FODMAPs:

– Fruits such as: apples, cherries, dates, figs, pears, peaches and watermelon

– Dairy such as: milk, ice cream, yogurts, cheese

foods to eat for ibs_2– Grains such as:  Barley, rye, wheat

– Legumes such as: beans, chickpeas, baked beans and red kidney beans

– Vegetables such as:  mushrooms, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, okra, onions, asparagus, artichoke, peas, Brussels sprouts and fennel

– Sweeteners such as: honey, fructose, xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol and maltitol

– Drinks such as: beer, fizzy drinks, drinks with high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices

Here is a list of some low FODMAPs:

– Most herbs and spices

– Sweeteners such as stevia, maple syrup and molasses

– Nuts and seeds such as almonds, macadamia, peanuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts.

– Fruits such as oranges, bananas, blueberries, lemons, lime, strawberries, melons. (except water melon), passion fruit, grapes, kiwi, raspberries, cantaloupe.

– Grains such as oats, rice, tapioca, quinoa.

– Drinks such as water, tea and coffee

– Vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, kale, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, turnip, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, celery, cucumbers, ginger, aubergines, parsnips. alfalfa, green beans, spinach, olives, chives.

– Dairy such as lactose-free dairy products, hard cheeses

It is recommended that you remove the high FODMAPs for a period of time, to give your gut time to heal and then reintroduce them one at a time. It is very important to do this with the help of a qualified health professional.

In conclusion, one of the best things you can do is to identify the trigger foods and eliminate them.

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References

1) [No authors Listed] (2015) Does a low FODMAP diet help IBS? Drug and Therapies Bulletin.53:93-96.

2) Vazquez-Roque M I, Camilleri M, Smyrk T, Murray J A, Marietta E, O’Neill J, Carlson P, Lamsam J, Janzow D, Eckert D, Burton D, Zinsmeister A R (2013) A Controlled Trial of Gluten-free Diet in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhoea; Effects on Bowel Frequency and Intestinal Function. Gastroenterology: Jan25. pii:s0016-5085(13)00135-2

3) Barrett J S (2012) Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) and nonallergic food intolerance; FODMAPs or food chemicals? Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 5: 261-268

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