Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome Through Dietary Changes

stomach pain
Stomach pain - Photo by: James Palinsad - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a gastrointestinal condition that manifests itself in episodes of diarrhea, stomach cramps, and constipation. If you regularly suffer from the unmistakable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, then you will already know just how much of a negative impact it can have on a person’s everyday life. IBS is one of those infuriating health conditions for which a root cause has yet to be found. For that reason, there can often be a long period of delays and confusion in actually receiving an official diagnosis. In the meantime, sufferers are left to try to deal with the pain, discomfort, and sometimes embarrassment of a condition that is so intrinsically linked to ‘bathroom activities’.

Of course, one of the most common and effective ways to fight the condition is to manage your diet. Over years of study and research, a number of different foods have been identified as key triggers for symptoms of IBS. Eliminating those from your everyday meal plans can have a hugely positive effect on the regularity of your episodes. With that in mind, here are some of the foods that you should definitely avoid in order to manage your irritable bowel syndrome.

Insoluble Fiber

Fiber is something that we all need in our diets to keep our gut healthy, but it is important to make the distinction between the two kinds: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be found in things like fruits, beans, and oat products, and is completely fine and recommended for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in things like whole grain products and certain vegetables. Insoluble fiber has been identified as making bloating and overall pain worse, so in general, it should be avoided. Tolerance to insoluble fiber varies from person to person, so you will need to test to find out if eating foods with insoluble fiber will trigger an episode.

Gluten

Gluten is the name for a group of proteins that can be found in various grains, including wheat, barley, and rye, and it has been identified as having a negative impact on the delicate balance of your bowel, especially for IBS sufferers. Thankfully, the modern food landscape has seen a huge rise in the popularity and availability of many gluten-free alternatives to your favorite foods like bread, pizza, pasta, cakes, and cookies. Gluten is found in many processed foods, so always read the label and look for “gluten-free” markings.

Dairy

The high-fat content in full dairy products is another catalyst for classic symptoms. In order to avoid dairy but still get your appropriate fix of calcium, you can incorporate and enjoy other calcium-rich foods into your diet, such as beans, nuts, greens, seeds, and sardines. You might also find you can tolerate low-fat versions of some dairy products.

Fried Foods

Fried foods are many people’s favorite guilty pleasure, but much like full dairy, the high-fat content in fried meals poses a threat to the sensitivity in your bowel. Rather than sacrificing these kinds of foods altogether, a good alternative is to have the same type of meals, but instead opt to bake or grill them rather than drop them in a deep fat fryer.

Caffeine

Caffeine is considered a big ‘no-no’ by the vast majority of IBS experts. While non-sufferers can rely on a morning cup of coffee to keep them ‘regular’, so to speak, people who already have a sensitivity will only experience negative effects from the extra stimulation that a caffeinated drink will provide. When you have IBS, your intestines simply cannot handle that much stimulation, and the unfortunate result tends to be diarrhea. This is not just a problem with cups of coffee, as caffeine can be found in tea and a high number of carbonated drinks.

Although medication is available to help with the symptoms of IBS, the best way to manage the condition is to understand what foods trigger the episodes and avoid them.

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