Good and bad foods for IBS | Lifestyles

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Irritable bowel syndrome, formerly called spastic colon or nervous bowel, is a common disorder affecting the large intestine. The Mayo Clinic says people with IBS experience cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation.

IBS is a chronic disorder, which means it can last for years. Doctors can recommend dietary changes to help treat symptoms. Dietary changes usually need to be instituted for several weeks to see if symptoms improve. Dietitian and researcher Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, often recommends foods that are easy to digest, a dietary approach known as the low FODMAP diet.

The Cleveland Clinic says FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.” FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are not easily digested or absorbed by the small intestine. The researchers also found that they increased the amount of fluid in the gut. Undigested carbohydrates are then metabolized by gut bacteria in the colon, producing excess gas. Fluid and gas in the intestine cause bloating and can cause diarrhea and/or constipation as well as abdominal pain. Low-FODMAP choices can ease IBS symptoms, including pain. Harvard Medical School reports that a study found that 76% of IBS patients following the low-FODMAP diet reported improvement in symptoms.

Foods to Avoid

• Lactose, which is found in cow’s milk, custard, ice cream, pudding, cottage cheese, ricotta and mascarpone.

• Fructose from apples, pears, peaches, cherries, mangoes, pears and watermelon, plus sweeteners like honey and agave nectar.

• Fructans in vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets, garlic and onions, and grains such as wheat and rye.

• Galacto-oligosaccharides from chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, soy products and broccoli.

• Polyols of apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums, watermelon, cauliflower, mushrooms, snow peas and several sweeteners, such as sorbitol and xylitol.

Foods to enjoy

• Lactose-free milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hard cheeses and lactose-free yoghurts.

• Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges and strawberries.

• Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, olives, parsnips and turnips.

• Beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu.

• Almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts and walnuts.

• Oats, oat bran, gluten-free pasta and quinoa.

Individuals can speak with a dietitian or doctor to experiment with dietary changes in an effort to manage their IBS. Some people may tolerate certain “safe” foods better than others. The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research suggests taking a soluble fiber supplement before a potential trigger meal, which may protect against symptoms. Try to avoid oil in cooking, relying instead on grilling, baking, steaming, or broiling.

Many low FODMAP diets are available online. Individuals can do their research and find foods they like that do not trigger IBS symptoms.


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