Understanding the Link Between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diet

Learning to eat on an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet is essential for anyone who has been diagnosed with the condition. There are a number of factors that can agitate your IBS symptoms, but foods and drinks are perhaps the most critical.

What Is IBS?

Before you can plan an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet, you have to understand what the condition is. There are three primary types of IBS, one in which the sufferer has excessive constipation, one in which the sufferer has excessive diarrhea and the last in which the sufferer alternates between both excessive constipation and excessive diarrhea. The sufferer may also have abdominal pains and cramps, painful constipation, painful diarrhea, excessive gas, frequent bloating, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, depression and emotional distress.

While painful and irritating, there is no evidence that IBS causes damage to the intestinal track or leads to any more serious conditions. However, it can be confused with more serious digestive disorders requiring stricter treatment, so it’s important that you have yourself fully tested for other digestive disorders, such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the most prominent of which is Crohn’s Disease.

Causes of IBS

The causes of IBS are varied and not always determined, but may be the after effect of a bacterial intestinal infection or could simply be a predisposition of the body. Evidence suggests that it’s a miscommunication between the brain and the nerves in the intestines, which causes disruption to the normal digestive flow in the form of cramping, pain and either constipation or diarrhea. The more upset a person is, the more muddled this line of communication becomes. This explains why stress can be a contributing factor to IBS. However, food and drink are key factors as well. That’s why the Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet can help alleviate symptoms.

Poor Diet and IBS

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what foods and drink trigger symptoms of IBS because it’s different for each person. However, there are a few foods and drinks that seem to cause trouble for more IBS sufferers than others. These include spicy foods, dairy foods, fried foods, fatty foods, chocolate, carbonated drinks, drinks high in caffeine content and alcohol. These foods and drinks irritate the intestines because they are more difficult to digest. These same foods may cause minor digestive irritations in people without IBS, but in those with IBS, the reaction of the intestines is more extreme.

Good Diet and IBS

The most successful Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet is one that you tailor for your own body. You can do this by eliminating the foods and drinks that may be aggravating your symptoms one by one until you experience some relief. However, one good food to add to your diet regardless is excessive amounts of fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps regulate digestion by absorbing excess intestinal liquid, slowing down diarrhea and softening stools to help prevent constipation. This leads to a reduction in intestinal spasms. Foods high in fiber include whole-grain cereals, rice, pasta, carrots, broccoli, peas, cabbage, whole grain bread, apples, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, soy and peaches.

No two cases of IBS are the same, so there’s no one-size-fits-all Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet. Nevertheless, there are a few basic tips that can help you design a diet that will ease your symptoms.


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