Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and your Diet
IBS symptoms are often linked to diet.
If you think your symptoms
may be related to what you’re eating, you should keep a log of
everything you eat as soon as you start to have symptoms.
Your doctor can help you determine if some part of your diet is making
your IBS better or worse. In general, a high-fiber, low-fat diet is
best for controlling all gastrointestinal disorders, although this
rule-of-thumb can have specific exceptions.
Diet is also linked to the type of symptoms
you have. For instance, if you suffer from diarrhea but don’t have a
problem with constipation,
may be alleviated by adding cheese to your diet. On the other hand, if
you are bothered by constipation
but diarrhea is not an issue, you should avoid cheese. The same is
true for many other types of food, as you will see.
Diarrhea. Diarrhea is the presence of loose or liquid stools.
Diarrhea occurs when the muscles in the colon move stools through the
colon so quickly that they don’t have time to form into a soft solid.
In terms of your diet,
you want to avoid foods
that quicken the movement of food through the gut and add foods
that slow down the passage of food.
We normally think of fiber as a treatment for constipation, not
diarrhea. Why would you want to eat something that is only going to
loosen your stool more? Actually, it’s only insoluble fiber that helps
Soluble fiber absorbs water from the colon and helps to firm up
stools. Eating foods with soluble fiber is perhaps the best dietary
method for preventing or stopping a bout of diarrhea.
On the other hand, many foods can contribute to the loosening of stools
and should be avoided. These include stimulants like caffeine, oils and
fats, and artificial sweeteners and fats.
here to see foods that can affect IBS- diarrhea.
occurs when the stool is too hard and dry to move smoothly through the
colon. In terms of your diet, you want to avoid foods that absorb even
more water from the colon. Instead, you want to eat foods that will
soften stools and encourage them to pass through the colon.
We associate eating fiber with treating constipation,
but there are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber
absorbs water. Since the stool is already dry when you are
constipated, you do not want anything in your colon to absorb even more
water. Insoluble fiber, or roughage, on the other hand, breaks up and
loosens stools, allowing them to pass. Dehydrating fluids like coffee
and tea also remove water from the colon, so you should avoid drinking
them if you are constipated.
here to see foods that can affect IBS-
Gas and bloating. Gas builds up in the gut as a normal part of
human digestion, but IBS sufferers may be prone to excess gas. Excess
gas can be caused by swallowing too much air while eating rapidly or
chewing gum; abnormal or uncoordinated muscle movement in the colon; or
an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Bloating is the feeling of
tightness and excess pressure in the abdomen. It may be, but is not
always, caused by excess gas.
Diet can affect gas and bloating in several ways. The way in which we
eat can cause excess gas to build up. If you eat too quickly without
stopping to chew your food completely, chew gum or drink carbonated
beverages, you may be swallowing air or carbon dioxide. Slow down and
chew your food thoroughly. Swallow slowly. Avoid gum or fizzy drinks
if you think they may be the problem.
Although we don’t like to think about it, passing gas is a normal
function of the body. We pass small amounts of gas all day. However,
when the muscles in the colon don’t work together to pass stool along in
a normal fashion, small pockets of gas may get trapped. If these build
up, you may have a bloated feeling. On the other hand, too much gas
may come out at once, putting you in a potentially embarrassing
Finally, we have bacteria in our gut that break down certain foods that
aren’t digested in other ways. Gas is a natural byproduct of this
process. Some medical professionals think that people with IBS who have
a problem with gas may have an imbalance of bacteria. Foods aren’t
broken down properly, which causes an excess of gas in the colon.
Certain foods are prone to causing gas anyway. (Think beans.) IBS
sufferers may also be more sensitive to foods that are not normally a
problem. On the other hand, certain foods almost never cause gas, so if
you’re having symptoms, you may want to stick to those foods.
here to see foods that can affect IBS- Gas and bloating.
Abdominal pain. Abdominal pain from IBS may come from any number
of sources. Diarrhea may cause a cramping pain, while pain from
constipation can come from compacted stool or muscle strain. Often a
bowel movement relieves IBS pain. If the pain is related to a chemical
imbalance, however, it can more difficult to treat, especially through
diet. People with IBS seem to be more sensitive to pain. In general,
if your abdominal pain is associated with diarrhea or constipation,
you should follow the food suggestions associated with those symptoms.
Click on the links above to see lists of foods that help and worsen
IBS-related diarrhea and constipation.