What Is The Best Diet For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

A balanced and healthy diet is one of the major factors affecting IBS. Many studies were made to find out the best nutritional regimen for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. It is believed that diet plans that doctors usually prescribe should be used wisely with specific range of quantities. A lot of people following these careful diet plans reported significant progress in their conditions, while people who didn’t follow or misused these diet plans may even have their health condition worsened. It is believed that patients with IBS should be forbidden to eat most of their favorite foods, but the fact is that those patients should know that irritable bowel syndrome is challenging when it comes to food, and they should take into consideration that there are still many options to enjoy.

Foods you should / shouldn’t eat

1. Avoid milk and dairy products such as cheese, custard, butter, and ice cream because some IBS patients are lactose intolerant, so dairy products are assumed to make their condition get worse.

IBS Diet
Lactose intolerance

Many people may ask, “what about yogurt?” or “is yogurt a lactose-free product?”. Yogurt is fermented by probiotics (healthy bacteria), which transform lactose into lactic acid. It is believed that a cup of milk contains 12 grams of lactose while yogurt contains only four grams. Thus, patients with lactose intolerance won’t only find yogurt easier to digest than milk, but they will also find some of their IBS symptoms relieved.

Read also; 12 Signs & Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance.

2. Try a low FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which means that high-FODMAP foods contain a lot of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are fermented in the intestines producing gases, causing bloating and worsening IBS symptoms. Thus, high FODMAP foods you should avoid include: – Fruits such as apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, mangoes nectarines, pears, plums, watermelons and juices containing them.

– Vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, snow peas, onions, mushroom, lentils artichokes, asparagus, and beans.

Low FODMAP diet includes blueberries, bananas, grapes, cantaloupes, oranges, kiwis, strawberries, eggplants, kale, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, green beans bell peppers, capsicum, and sprouts.

3. Avoid gluten as much as possible. Gluten is a kind of protein present in grain products and foods containing barley, wheat, farina, graham flour, rye, and bulgur. That includes bread, cake, cereal, and pasta. Statistics show that approximately 1% of the world’s population suffers from gluten intolerance as their intestinal mucosa (lining cells) get damaged when they eat gluten-rich products. They may lead to triggering IBS symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea. Almost all fruits and vegetables are low in gluten, so vegans won’t find gluten-free diet hard to follow. IBS patients could find gluten-free Products in groceries and healthy food stores.

IBS Diet
Gluten infographic

Read also; 10 Signs & Symptoms of Celiac Disease (Gluten Sensitivity).

4. Drink plenty of water, as continuous hydration is essential to your vital activities. It isn’t preferable to drink water in meals. Thus, it is advisable to drink water one hour before or after each meal to avoid poor digestion and malabsorption of food.

5. Increase your fiber intake because it is found that patients with IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea) get their conditions developed, and their symptoms relieved when they get sufficient fibers in their diet (25 – 30 grams daily ). Although sudden Increase of fiber intake may trigger IBS symptoms, adding 2-4 grams of fibers each week to your diet will help you get better sooner. Fiber could be found easily in foods such as popcorn, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables (you can use fiber supplements as well). Make sure you consult your doctor or nutritionist when you use them because not all types of fiber are appropriate for IBS patients.

6. Substitute butter for olive oil to make food lighter and easier to digest.

7. Eat small meals throughout the day.

8. Try to eat more snacks such as baked potato chips, pretzels, rice cakes, nuts, sweet potato, and flavored yogurt to feel full all day.

9. Vitamin D deficiency could probably contribute in causing IBS or worsening its symptoms, so make sure to include vitamin D in your diet. Normal vitamin D level in blood is within the range of 20 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml. You can enrich your diet with vitamin D by eating salmon, mackerel, red meat, beef liver, egg folks, some cereals, cheese, and tuna. Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before taking vitamin D supplements.

10. Avoid chocolate, fried food, alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks.

11. Look for low-fat foods and add more of it to your diet, and they are easily found, such as:

    • Beef, chicken (with no skin), fish, eggs, lamb, pork, prawn.
    • Fruits like bananas, oranges, papaya, limes, kiwis, blueberries, pineapples, strawberries.
    • Whole grains like brown rice, oats, millet, maize, buckwheat, quinoa.
    • Seeds like sesame, pumpkins, sunflowers and line seeds.
    • Vegetables like sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, spinach, and zucchini.
    • Nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts.
    • Dairy products like fat-free milk, parmesan cheese and cottage cheese.

12. Avoid processed food, such as chips and cookies.

13. Never delay or skip meals and try to follow a scheduled plan of meals.

14. Cut down on eating bread with refined grains.

15. Avoid honey and sweeteners with high fructose, such as candy and gums.

16. Try home remedies such as:

    • Fennel tea acts as an antispasmodic agent (it relaxes the digestive muscles) and boosts your mood, contributing to relieve IBS symptoms.
    • Star anise tea, which improves the digestion process and alleviates cramps, is advisable as well. It is believed that honey cinnamon (star anise) could treat digestive disorders such as constipation and bloating.
    • Chamomile tea, which is well known for its high content of antioxidants and antitoxins are recommended because they reduce anxiety and releases tension.

17. Cook homemade meals with fresh ingredients.

Example of healthy diet plan for IBS patients:

– At 8:00 am, sugar-free cereals, a glass of lactose-free milk, and orange juice for breakfast.

– At 1:30 pm, white rice, 350 grams of well steak and a green salad for lunch.

– By 5:15 pm, 300 grams of sweet potato and two bananas.

– By 6:30 pm, green or star anise cup of tea.

– At 8:30 pm, parmesan cheese toast, fruit salad, and yogurt for dinner.