A Nutritional Guide to Treating IBS

Your diet is an important part of treating IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) successfully. Learning what foods to avoid and what foods to add to your diet can help alleviate your symptoms significantly.

Causes and Symptoms

Treating IBS can be difficult because its cause is unclear. However, evidence may suggest that those with the condition are genetically predisposed to it or experience it after suffering from an intestinal bacterial infection. The main component of the condition is poor communication between the brain and the intestines, causing the intestines to contract either too quickly or too slowly. This results in a mixture of any of the following symptoms: chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, abdominal cramping, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, emotional upset and depression.

How Diet Affects IBS

Eating the wrong foods can cause digestive distress, even in people who don’t suffer from IBS, by irritating the intestines and causing excessive digestive fluids to be released. Certain foods trigger intestinal irritation, while others can help soothe digestion. Those with IBS are more disposed to intestinal irritation.

Foods to Eliminate

Even if the causes are unclear, what you eat definitely affects your IBS symptoms, so if you plan on treating IBS, you should start at the very basic step of redesigning your diet. However, you must be aware that no two cases of IBS are alike. What affects your body negatively may not have much of an impact on another IBS sufferer and vice versa. However, there are a few types of food and drinks that tend to affect those with IBS more often than others, which include:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Dairy foods
  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate

If you don’t want to give up on all of these possibly-irritating foods and drinks at once, try eliminating them one by one from your diet and seeing if you experience improvement. However, some of these possibly-irritating foods are generally unhealthy (such as fried or fatty foods), so you may as well take them out of your diet to improve your health as well as your symptoms.

Foods to Add

There’s one type of food that benefits most sufferers of IBS and that’s fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Fiber is actually an indigestible food, but rather than causing irritation, it soothes and regulates intestines and intestinal contractions. Soluble fiber absorbs liquid in excess in the intestine and attaches to waste as a soft gel. If you suffer from diarrhea, this process will eliminate the excess liquid and cause the stool to become more firm and slower to exit the body. If you suffer from constipation, this process softens stools and keeps them moving through the intestines at a faster pace.

Foods high in soluble fiber for treating IBS include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Soy
  • Beats
  • Tortillas
  • White bread

Other foods that are high in fiber include:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Peaches
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Peas

Treating IBS with changes in your diet may not entirely eliminate your symptoms because the condition is largely tied to stress as well. Work on your nutritional plan, but don’t forget to make changes to reduce your stress or change the way in which you react to stressful situations.

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