Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) is a common chronic condition involving abdominal cramps, bloating, and unpredictable changes in your bowel movements. It is a complicated illness that requires careful monitoring, and many people do not realize just how many dietary choices can influence the severity of their symptoms. Although ingredients that are problematic for most lBS sufferers will not be problematic for all, there are certain common triggers that are highly likely to make your IBS worse. Read on to discover different foods and drinks that are known to exacerbate IBS, and learn about which you should only eat occasionally and which you should avoid entirely.
If you are trying to lose weight or are even just trying to maintain a healthy weight, you probably opt for diet sodas and desserts sometimes. The sweeteners that these products contain can severely irritate the digestive systems of lBS sufferers. The next time that you are interested in a low calorie drink or snack, check to see whether it contains sucralose or saccharin. If it has any of these artificial sweeteners on the ingredients list, you should try to find an alternative product.
Insoluble fibers are fibers that your stomach is incapable of breaking down. They are found in raw vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grains, and they are finally broken down when they reach your large intestine. At that point, the digestion of insoluble fibers causes pain, flatulence and abdominal discomfort. If you want to minimize your IBS symptoms limit your consumption of insoluble fibers whenever possible.
Multiple studies have shown that people with lBS experience more frequent and painful cramps after consuming meals or snacks that are particularly high in fat. In addition, fatty foods can cause an increased number of bowel movements, sometimes to the extent that severe diarrhea results.
Large quantities of vegetables
Vegetables are very good for your body, influencing everything from heart health to how likely you are to develop certain kinds of cancer. However, if you have lBS then you need to balance these health benefits against the evidence that a high intake of vegetables causes increased stomach pains and bowel cramps. In particular, it is a good idea to avoid eating excessive amounts of onion, beans, broccoli and cabbage.
Most lBS patients can drink alcohol in moderation, but binge drinking is linked to pain and discomfort in those with the disease. In addition, alcohol can cause the digestive tract to spasm in an extremely painful way. It is especially important to avoid drinking too many carbonated alcoholic drinks.
Although all fats are associated with an increase in lBS symptoms, it appears that artificial fats are worst of all in this respect. Like artificial sweeteners, they are designed to add more flavor to food without the burden of extra calories. However, they greatly increase your risk of having diarrhea, trapped wind, and acute stomach cramps. The most common artificial fat is olestra, so it is a good idea to scan the list of ingredients on a new product in order to make sure that no olestra is present.
FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols)
Nondigested or poorly digested carbohydrates can contribute IBS symptoms. FODMAPs include: fructo-oligosaccharides (wheat, rye, onions, garlic), galacto-oligosaccharides (legumes), lactose (milk), fructose (honey, apples, pears), sorbitol (apples, pears, sugar-free products), and mannitol (cauliflower, sugar-free products). A diet low in FODMAPs can reduce IBS symptoms. A recent study also showed that IBS patients that avoided all FODMAP‑rich foods, consumed probiotic supplements, and didn’t avoid foods that were important to health had improved quality of life and reduced symptoms.
As for the theory that avoiding gluten is beneficial, note that the majority of the benefits of avoiding gluten are actually due to avoiding FODMAPs.
The evidence suggests that the best ways to reduce IBS symptoms include avoiding FODMAPs and supplementing with probiotics.