Treatments for IBS: Foods to Avoid with IBS
You may have food sensivities and not know it. Frequent headaches, chronic digestive problems and fatigue, and a number of other common health complaints can often be caused by reactions to the foods and chemicals in our diet. Click here to learn more about MRT and LEAP.
Because there is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), treatment consists of controlling its symptoms. For most patients with IBS, this can be accomplished through diet, stress management or various medications. The first step is to identify which foods to avoid with IBS or aggravate the symptoms of IBS. Symptoms may differ significantly among patients with IBS and there may be a list of foods to avoid with IBS. It may be helpful to keep a food diary or log of what is eaten each day, the type of symptoms experienced and when they occur, as well as what foods or situations appear to make symptoms worse.
Treatment of IBS symptoms typically involves staying away from foods or behaviors that aggravate symptoms. Some foods may be better tolerated than others. Click here to learn how to be tested for the individual foods that cause your IBS symtoms and specific foods to avoid with IBS.
Specific food and drinks that may worsen IBS symptoms include:
- Fatty foods (french fries, potato chips)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream)
- Caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Carbonated beverages
- Chewing gum
Patients are at risk of losing key nutrients when they remove certain foods from their diet. FiLife of Colorado can help with the development of a personalized and healthy food plan. Click here to learn more!!
Patients with IBS may wish to make the following changes to their diet to help alleviate symptoms:
Consume adequate amounts of fiber. Fiber adds bulk to stool in the digestive tract, speeding digestion and helping to alleviate constipation. In addition, fiber keeps the colon mildly distended, which may help prevent muscle contractions (spasms) in patients with IBS. It may also improve the consistency of stool, helping to alleviate diarrhea. However, too much insoluble fiber may aggravate or cause diarrhea. A patient’s diet should contain enough fiber for easy, painless bowel movements. Fiber should be introduced into the diet gradually to avoid gas and bloating. Fiber supplements may be helpful because it can be difficult to obtain adequate quantities of fiber through diet alone. There are two types of fiber: Soluble fiber. Fiber that dissolves in liquid, attracts water during digestion and slows the rate of nutrient absorption in the intestines. Thus, soluble fiber may help both diarrhea and constipation associated with IBS. Examples include psyllium, oat bran, oatmeal, barley, rye, fruit flesh (without the skin) and navy, pinto or lima beans. Insoluble fiber. Fiber that does not dissolve in liquid, speeding digestion and helping to alleviate constipation. Insoluble fiber may worsen diarrhea. Examples include fresh fruit (with the skin), vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals. It is important to note that most fiber-rich foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but in varying amounts.
It is therefore important for patients making dietary changes for IBS to learn which foods are most likely to benefit them. MRT testing and an immunocalm diet may be the plan for you; click here to learn more.
Eat smaller meals. Eating large amounts of food in a single sitting should be avoided because it may cause cramping and diarrhea. Five or six smaller meals throughout the day may be easier to digest for patients with IBS. Remember this technique when considering foods to avoid with IBS.
Eat slowly. Eating meals too quickly can lead to the unintentional swallowing of air, causing gas and bloating in patients with IBS.
Drink plenty of fluids. Six to eight glasses of water a day is recommended for hydration, especially for patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS.
Patients with IBS may be more sensitive to emotional stress or tension. Stress management is especially important to reduce or prevent the symptoms of IBS. The methods can include:
Relaxation therapies. Therapies designed to help a person relax. Biofeedback trains patients to alter bodily functions (such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure) through relaxation or imagery. Progressive relaxation involves a conscious effort to relax muscles in the body, one by one. Meditation, hypnosis, deep breathing and massage may also help a patient with IBS learn to relax so as not to trigger or aggravate IBS symptoms.
Counseling. Emotional support usually achieved through communication. This can be done with a mental health professional, in a support group, or with family members or friends. If seeking professional help, cognitive behavior therapy may be especially helpful for patients with IBS.
Regular exercise, sleep. Exercise (e.g., yoga, walking, tai chi, swimming) can help keep the digestive tract functioning normally. This is especially helpful for patients with constipation-predominant IBS. Getting adequate amounts of sleep can help reduce stress and maintain normal physical functioning, including digestion.
Avoiding stressful situations. Patients with IBS can choose to avoid or remove themselves from stressful situations in their lives. For example, taking a less-stressful job and avoiding other stressful environments can help control IBS symptoms.
Patients with IBS should also refrain from smoking, as nicotine may trigger symptoms.