If you are one of the 58 million Americans with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) then you are probably aware that what you eat can affect your IBS symptoms.
Fortunately, with a bit of food knowledge and preparation, you can take measures to manage your IBS symptoms.
Know Your ‘Triggers’
No one, single food causes IBS. Rather, a variety of foods and drinks can be “triggers” that aggravate IBS.
Common IBS culprits include:
- Foods high in fat
- Deep-fried food
- Insoluble fiber
- Caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
- Red meat
- Dairy products (for those who are lactose-intolerant)
When consumed, these foods can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, causing painful muscular reactions, or can stimulate the production of an immune system compound called immunoglobulin G (IgG).
A diet that does not contain IgG-stimulating foods can lessen the IBS symptoms. “Identification of food intolerances is paramount,” says Anthony Starpoli, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
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7 Tips to Be Your IBS Best
If you are worried about how dietary changes will affect your body, here are some helpful tips:
- Figure out which foods work for you. By keeping a journal that charts the foods you’ve eaten and your resulting intestinal happiness or upset over time, you can pinpoint a list of no-go foods. Sticking to the friendly foods will help lessen your IBS symptoms. Be patient; this step takes time.
- Learn to read labels. Labels carry a lot of information on the ingredients that may trigger IBS misery.
- Choose smaller meals. Studies have indicated that eating four to five smaller meals a day can lessen cramping and diarrhea.
- Put less gas in your tank. If you are prone to gas, try avoiding broccoli, onions, beans, brussel sprouts, and garlic. Keeping a diet and symptom journal will help identify other gassy foods you may want to avoid.
- Eat foods that are low in fat. Low-fat food is absorbed by the digestive tract more easily than high-fat food.
- Pick and choose your dairy products. Milk, cream, sour cream, and ice cream can be time bombs if you are lactose-intolerant. However, other dairy products, including yogurt and cheese, contain living bacteria such as acidophilus, which can help digest lactose and provide an intestinal coating of beneficial bacteria.
- Avoid citrus. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes can increase IBS discomfort.
Cooking With IBS
Food preparation can also influence the severity of your IBS symptoms. If you need recipe ideas, there are many cookbooks with recipes tailored to IBS sufferers.
Some tips include: incorporating barley and fennel (which can be soothing to the digestive tract) in casseroles and soups, baking with nut-based flours, and looking for gluten-free alternatives to foods such as pasta and bread.
If you have IBS, avoid “trigger” foods, eats smaller meals, and pay attention to what you puts in your body. With the right diet, it is possible to reduce your uncomfortable symptoms.