What is irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) diet?

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Diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Overview

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a problem with the intestines. IBS can cause belly pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. Most people can control their symptoms by changing their diet and easing stress.

No specific foods cause everyone with IBS to have symptoms. Many people find that they feel better by limiting or eliminating foods that may bring on symptoms. Make sure you don't stop eating all foods from any one food group without talking with a dietitian. You need to make sure you are still getting all the nutrients you need.

How can you care for yourself by using a diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Making some changes to your diet can help with all the symptoms of IBS.

Keep track of foods and symptoms

  • Keep a food diary to track what you eat. Also record when you have symptoms and what they are. There are phone apps that can help, or you can just write it down.
  • A food diary can help you figure out if certain foods trigger symptoms and if cutting out certain foods helps.
  • When you make changes to your diet, plan on it taking about 6 weeks to know if the changes help.

For pain, gas, and bloating

  • Try adding soluble fiber every day. This is the kind that dissolves in water. Some foods with soluble fiber are oats and fruit without skin. Some supplements you can try are Benefiber and Citrucel.
  • Try a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates that can make IBS symptoms worse. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you with this diet.

For constipation

  • Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about whether you should increase how much fiber you eat. If they suggest more fiber:
    • Try soluble fiber first.
    • If they recommend more insoluble fiber, go slow. Add a little bit at a time. Insoluble fiber is in fruits and vegetables with skin, most whole grains, and beans.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get some exercise every day. Build up slowly to 30 to 60 minutes a day on 5 or more days of the week.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having a bowel movement.

For diarrhea

You may try giving up foods or drinks one at a time to see whether symptoms improve. Limit or avoid the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate
  • Nicotine, from smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Gas-producing foods, such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and apples
  • Dairy products that contain lactose (milk sugar), such as ice cream and milk
  • Foods and drinks high in sugar, especially fruit juice, soda, candy, and other packaged sweets (such as cookies)
  • Foods high in fat, including bacon, sausage, butter, oils, and anything deep-fried
  • Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, and isomalt. These are artificial sweeteners found in some sugarless candies and chewing gum.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.