Although Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, the hopeful news is that with proper diet, stress management, and natural supplements, most people will be able to control their IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pains, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea or constipation. For all intents and purposes, we will be focusing on what foods to consume, versus what foods to avoid toward maintaining a balanced and healthy IBS diet.
Imagine, living a life, free of agonizing and embarrassing urges, where you are actually enjoying your time at a party or at home or work, without having to frantically worry if you are going to find much less make it to the bathroom on time to relieve yourself when attacked with the runs? At first, the very thought may sound like it’s too good to be true. Well, what if I told you that this is possible and certainly can be your reality!
Did you ever think of keeping an IBS diary? According to WebMd.com, if you regularly write down the types of foods you eat, when and where you ate them, the amount, and the symptoms associated with the food, it may help you and your doctor figure out what foods and situations trigger your IBS symptoms.
I would recommend you track the following four categories in your IBS diary:
Foods You Can Eat on an IBS Diet
Before getting into the list of foods you can eat to maintain a healthy IBS diet, it is important to acknowledge that different foods have different effects on each individual, hence the importance of journaling your food intake daily as described above.
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD suggests people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome eat more “soluble fiber” rather than “insoluble fiber”, because “soluble fiber” stays in the gut longer, adding bulk to the colon, which helps the colon work normally. For further clarification on soluble versus insoluble fiber, Wikepedia defines dietary fiber (sometimes called roughage) as the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:
- Soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts
- Insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water throughout the digestive system and easing defecation.
You will find soluble fiber in the following foods:
- Brown Rice
- Legumes (Peas, Soybeans, and other Beans)
- Oats, Rye, Chia & Barley
- Dried Beans & Fruits
- Most Raw Vegetables & Fruits
For comparative value, here is a list of insoluble foods:
- Flax Seed
- Whole Grain Foods
- Wheat & Corn Bran
- Nuts and Seeds
- Potato Skins & Tomato Skins
- Vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, zucchini (courgette), celery and nopal
- Some fruits including avocado and bananas
What to Avoid on an IBS Diet
Again, it is important to remember that each individual with IBS reacts to certain foods differently. Here is a list of foods that can potentially worsen IBS symptoms, particularly those who are suffering from diarrhea:
- Large meals
- Carbonated drinks
- Too much fiber, especially “insoluble fiber” found in the skin of fruits and vegetables
- Food and drinks with chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, fructose, or the sugar substitute sorbitol
- Fried & Fatty Foods (like french fries)
- Food and drinks with dairy (like cheese or ice cream)
IBS Prevention Strategies
Below is a list of prevention strategies that are helpful in both maintaining a healthy, balanced IBS diet, in addition to relieving pains from IBS symptoms:
- Eat smaller portions.
- Eat a moderate amount of soluble fiber. It adds bulk to the colon and can help prevent spasms. Good sources are whole wheat breads, oats, barley, brown rice, pasta, the flesh of fruit (as opposed to the skin), and dried fruits.
- Don’t consume foods with extreme temperatures, such as ice-cold water and steaming hot soup, in the same meal.
- Stay away from broccoli, onions, and cabbage. They can cause gas, which can make diarrhea sufferers feel worse.
- Drink six to eight glasses of purified water a day, but drink the water an hour before or after meals, not with meals.
- Consult with your doctor or a dietitian if you suspect you may have a wheat allergy.
Take Back Control of Your Life!
In addition to focusing on eating foods containing “soluble” fiber versus “insoluble” fiber as detailed above, I highly recommend following a regular exercise routine, while simultaneously taking a good probiotic supplement. Oxy-Powder has been clinically proven to relieve the symptoms of IBS. Taking one or two capsules daily can help proactively manage your IBS symptoms so you can enjoy a normal, healthier lifestyle, and take back control of your life!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
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