Constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea - for those who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these symptoms and signs are known all too well. The good news is, many of these can be eased by making simple lifestyle changes - including changes to the diet.

Although there is no one ‘ideal’ diet for someone with IBS, there are certain foods that are believed to trigger a flare-up and medical professionals may suggest avoiding [1], these include:

  • Fizzy drinks such as sodas
  • Products containing gluten
  • Too much caffeine

It’s important to remember that IBS is unique to every individual and while following a certain diet may work for some, it might not be the right fit for others.

See also: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


What is the best diet for irritable bowel syndrome?


One of the most common diet approaches taken for those with irritable bowel syndrome is avoiding foods that trigger symptoms. The easiest way to do this is to keep a journal and keep a note of the foods and drinks that tend to trigger symptoms and avoid these foods in the future.

See also: What Causes a Change in Bowel Movements?


Another diet that has recently been developed for those with IBS is called the low FODMAP diet (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols). Research found that the small intestine does not absorb FODMAPs very well - this can sometimes result in gas and abdominal pain [1].

The idea behind the diet is that those with IBS should eat less of these short-chain carbohydrates to help in decreasing symptoms [2].

The diet involves eating less:


Lactose


Lactose is the sugar that’s found in milk. Foods containing lactose include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice cream
  • Cheese

Fructose


Fructose is sometimes referred to as fruit sugar and is found in a number of different plants. Foods containing fructose include:

  • Fruits (Apples, pears, peaches, mangoes)
  • Honey
  • High fructose corn syrup

Fructans


Fructans are naturally occurring carbohydrates. Foods containing fructans include:

  • Wheat and rye
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Beetroot

GOS


GOS is found naturally in dairy products, beans and certain vegetables. Foods containing GOS include:

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Soy products
  • Brocolli

Polyols


Polyols are naturally occurring sugar alcohols that can be found in a number of different fruits and vegetables. Foods containing polyols include:

  • Sweeteners
  • Apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries
  • Cauliflower, mushrooms

And, eating more:


Dairy


Dairy plays an important role in a person’s overall wellbeing - particularly in bone health. Foods containing dairy include:

  • Lactose-free milk
  • Almond milk
  • Hard cheeses

Fruits and vegetables


As fruits and vegetables are full to the brim of essential minerals and nutrients, ensuring to eat plenty is an important part of a balanced diet. Some fruits and vegetables to include in your diet include:

  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Brussel Sprouts

Protein


From helping repair body tissues to coordinating bodily functions, it’s easy to see why protein plays such an important role in a person’s diet. Foods containing protein include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Tofu

Nuts, seeds and grains


Nuts, seeds and grains are all a good source of healthy fats, fibres and vitamins - particularly if you’re following a plant-based diet. Some to consider include:

  • Almonds
  • Macadamia
  • Peanuts
  • Oats
  • Gluten-free pasta
  • Quinoa
  • White rice

Remember, everybody’s experience with IBS is unique - and there is no one ‘perfect’ IBS diet. Don’t forget to speak with your healthcare provider or dietitian before deciding to try out a new diet such as low FODMAP.


What are the worst foods for IBS?


As everyone’s experience with IBS is different, it can be hard to pinpoint the particular foods which might make IBS symptoms worse or cause a flare-up. This is why your doctor may recommend you keep a note of the foods that you eat that seem to cause side effects such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. You will then have an idea of what food seems to trigger symptoms and in turn, know what foods to avoid! This is sometimes referred to as an elimination diet.

In saying that, there are some foods known to sometimes make IBS symptoms worse, according to John Hopkins Medicine, these include:

  • Milk or other lactose foods
  • Processed foods
  • High carbonated drinks such as sodas
  • Caffeine

CRP levels are typically tested when diagnosing IBS in order to rule out any other potential inflammatory disorders. This test can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home CRP Test can identify inflammation in the body which may indicate an increased risk of degenerative disorders. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to help you throughout the process in any way they can.

You should consider taking the CRP test if:

  • You are at risk for chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or vasculitis
  • You are at risk for Crohn's disease
  • You are at risk for bowel disorders
  • You are overweight
  • You require a risk assessment for cardiovascular diseases
  • You require a risk assessment for cancers

See also: What is C-Reactive Protein?


References

  1. NHS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet. Online: NHS.uk
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome. Online: Health.harvard.edu
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome. Online: Health.harvard.edu