Diet – An Important First Step In IBS Treatment


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide, causing symptoms such as stomach discomfort, abdominal bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Although nutrition is important in symptom management, a mix of dietary and lifestyle adjustments may be required. Healthcare experts offer healthy food and lifestyle guidance, such as maintaining a consistent eating schedule, reducing triggers, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular physical exercise. Some people may require tailored relief for the long term.


IBS is a functional bowel disease that impairs the normal function of the digestive system but does not cause structural damage. Stress, hormonal changes, and specific meals can cause IBS symptoms to appear. Identifying and eliminating food factors is critical for successful IBS treatment. The first step in treating IBS is to make dietary and lifestyle adjustments. There is a growing interest in how diet and nutrition impact gastrointestinal function and symptoms, with several patients reporting increased GI symptoms following meals.

IBS symptoms are likely caused by various factors, including the body’s overactive response to food, the gastrocolic reflex, and when bacteria in the small bowel break down food, resulting in increased gas and water inside the intestines, producing diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Traditional dietary recommendations for IBS patients include avoiding alcohol, coffee, spicy foods, and fatty meals. However, increased data supporting dietary changes to treat IBS has led to fresh insights into other treatments.

General dietary recommendations include the following:

  • Eating smaller, frequent meals at a slower pace to reduce intestinal stress compared to eating three large meals at once. Eating regular meals and snacks might assist in regulating bowel motions. Furthermore, practicing mindful eating, such as chewing food completely and eating in a relaxed setting, may help digestion and alleviate discomfort.
  • Drinking adequate water is essential for good gut health. It helps to avoid constipation and promotes regular digestion. Drinking at least 8 cups of fluid per day.
  • Limit Trigger Foods: To avoid IBS symptoms, avoid spicy meals, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, onions, and garlic. Limit your tea and coffee intake to two cups each day, and avoid alcohol and sugary beverages.
  • Consider probiotic supplementation: Probiotics, or helpful bacteria, keep the gut microbiota balanced and may help with IBS symptoms. Yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut are among the most common sources. Individual reactions may differ, so consult a healthcare practitioner before beginning a probiotic supplement.
  • To alleviate persistent IBS-associated constipation, consume meals rich in healthy polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat.
  • Roasting, grilling, or pan-frying meats with little oil, lightly searing meat, chicken, or fish, using an air fryer, steaming vegetables, peeling vegetables, using lime or lemon juice, fresh herbs, or mild tomato or mango salsa, and limiting gassiness from canned beans can help manage IBS effectively.


To improve IBS symptoms, a doctor may prescribe that you avoid gluten-containing foods.
A gluten-free diet may benefit people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially if they also have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance.

Gluten-containing foods include cereals, grains, pasta, and processed meals. Even if individuals do not have celiac disease, some IBS patients may report increased symptoms after ingesting gluten. Gluten’s significance as a cause of IBS symptoms is uncertain, and evidence of its efficacy is equivocal. 

Some experts believe that IBS is a type of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, comparable to celiac, in which gluten causes unfavorable gastrointestinal symptoms. Others suggest that the FODMAP fructan is the source of the issue. Whether a low-FODMAP diet does not work, a gluten-free diet with increasing gluten consumption might be tried to see whether symptoms improve.


FODMAP stands for ‘fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyol’. They are short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestines absorb poorly. FODMAP carbohydrates are found in many meals that ferment, increasing the amount of liquid and gas in the small and large intestines. Excessive FODMAP ingestion might result in gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort.

The low FODMAP diet is a dietary approach to controlling IBS and identifying particular triggers. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and sweeteners are typical high-FODMAP foods.

The low FODMAP diet is intended as a short-term “diagnostic diet” to assist patients in identifying trigger foods. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) recommends that this be done under the supervision of a qualified gastrointestinal nutritionist.

Here’s an outline of the three major phases of the low FODMAP diet:

  1. Elimination Phase: Reduce or avoid high-FODMAP foods like:
  • Fructans are found in wheat, onions, garlic, and various other grains and vegetables.
  • Lactose is found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and soft cheese.
  • Fructose: Found in various fruits, honey, and high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Polyols are found in various fruits and vegetables and artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and mannitol.

Low-FODMAP choices include gluten-free grains (if necessary).

  • Lactose-free dairy and non-dairy alternatives
  • Low FODMAP vegetables and fruits
  • Proteins include fish, meat, fish, tofu, and eggs.
  • Some grains and cereals (e.g., quinoa, rice)
  1. Reintroduction Phase: After two to six weeks of restriction, individual FODMAP groups are gradually reintroduced to discover triggers. This phase allows you to tailor your diet to your needs and tolerance.
  2. Maintenance Phase: Identifying trigger foods allows for a tailored, sustainable diet that eliminates FODMAPs while maintaining a nutritionally balanced and diversified diet.


  • Dietary fiber is vital for controlling IBS symptoms, with some individuals benefiting from more soluble fiber and others finding comfort with a low-fiber diet. 
  • Soluble fiber, found in foods such as oats, flaxseeds, psyllium husk, vegetables, and fruits like berries, bananas, and carrots, helps regulate bowel movements and reduces diarrhea. Still, insoluble fiber, found in whole grains and some vegetables, may aggravate symptoms in some people. 
  • To relieve persistent IBS-related constipation and assist the body in acclimating to increased fiber, increase fiber intake gradually, by two to three grams per day, to avoid gas and bloating. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 suggest that people consume 22 to 34 grams of fiber per day.


IBS is a very individualized disorder; hence a customized diet is essential for successful management. Keeping a food diary, documenting symptoms, and experimenting with dietary changes under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner or nutritionist can help identify particular triggers and build a long-term management strategy. Individuals with IBS frequently report irregularities and unpredictability in their food consumption, thus, keeping a journal for two to three weeks can help them identify trigger foods. 

There is no one-size-fits-all IBS diet since no two individuals are the same. People who have diarrhea may have different causes than those who have constipation, and those who have both symptoms may have a mix of both. Identifying and avoiding foods that cause IBS symptoms will be different for everyone.


  • IBS may be controlled with lifestyle modification, concerning nutrition, stress management, regular physical activity, and appropriate sleep. Stress promotes IBS symptoms, causing discomfort and agony. 
  • Stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness can alleviate symptoms. 
  • Regular exercise regulates bowel motions and relieves stress.
  • Adequate sleep is critical for general well-being, which includes gut health. 
  • Proper hydration is essential for a healthy digestive tract. 
  • Anxiety and sadness are two psychological elements that might impact IBS symptoms. Integrating treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or counseling can help to reduce stress and strengthen the mind-body connection. 
  • Regular medical check-ups are critical for monitoring symptoms and detecting potential health problems.

IBS symptoms can be controlled with a tailored diet such as gluten-free diets, low-FODMAP diets, and high-fiber diets that include avoiding triggers and treating lifestyle issues. Healthcare experts and qualified dietitians may offer thorough data, allowing individuals to take charge of their digestive health. IBS diets are often lifelong and need lifestyle modifications such as regular diets, limiting their intake of insoluble fiber, caffeine, alcohol, fatty and spicy foods, exercising regularly, and drinking plenty of water.