by Kathy Mitchell,
Contributing Author, a passionate writer, Health, Beauty and Fitness Adviser
IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a group of symptoms that include abdominal pain or change in bowel movements. These symptoms vary from person to person, i.e. some suffer from diarrhea while others with constipation. In addition to these physical symptoms, IBS might also cause stress and anxiety. In the past, Irritable Bowel Syndrome was also referred to as IBS colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, and spastic bowel.
Nearly 11% of the global population suffers from IBS. The disease is more likely in women and it becomes less common after the age of 50. IBS can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract. This change in the movement causes diarrhea, constipation, or both.
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A change in the diet can significantly help in improving your symptoms. Your doctor might also recommend you a dietician. The most common diets available to reduce the painful and uncomfortable symptoms are as follows-
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate found in plant food. It can be in both soluble and insoluble forms. However, soluble fiber (that can be dissolved in liquid) is preferred over insoluble fiber in IBS treatment. Soluble fiber makes the stool, soft and kind which helps its easy flow during constipation, and yet is thick enough to prevent diarrhea. Also, a sudden increase in the amount of fiber consumed by the body might cause the problems of gas and bloating, therefore, it is recommended to increase the intake by 2-3 grams per day.
Some of the common food items containing soluble fiber are-
• grains, like oatmeal and barley
• root vegetables, like carrots and parsnips
• fruits, like berries, mangos, oranges, and grapefruit
• legumes, like peas
Gluten is a protein, mostly found in whole grains, like wheat or barley, and some people are allergic to such proteins. This condition is called celiac disease. These proteins usually target the intestine which leads to poor absorption of nutrients in the human body. Food items containing gluten mostly triggers the diarrhea-predominant IBS. However, it has different effects on different human bodies. People with IBS are mostly gluten intolerant and gluten-free diet helps them improve symptoms, but sometimes it is of little help.
Some common gluten-free food items include-
• Corn (maize)
An elimination diet can be a very helpful measure of an Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It aims at eliminating certain food items from your diet for a certain period of time in order to see if your IBS improves. You shall eliminate all the suspected food items from your diet for an initial period of 12 weeks and closely monitor your bowel movements. In case you don’t find any difference, you shall move onto some other food items from your diet. All caffeinated drinks, dairy products, and fried food fall into the NO category.
Food items mostly eliminated include-
• insoluble fiber- whole grain products, vegetables
While suffering from a condition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is advised to stay away from all kinds of fatty foods. High-fat food, not only triggers the symptoms of IBS but also causes a number of health issues like obesity, gas, bloating. A low-fat diet is good for the body and also reduces problems of bowel movements. High- fat food causes the maximum problem to people suffering from mixed IBS, i.e. a combination of diarrhea and constipation.
Some low-fat food items include
• Low-fat dairy products
LOW FODMAP DIET-
Doctors and dieticians mostly advise a low FODMAP diet, which focuses on avoiding food items containing certain carbohydrates that are not easily digested. It is believed that high FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) foods are hardly absorbed by the small intestine. The intestine releases a lot of fluid in the bowel that causes pain, gas and/or diarrhea.
Low FODMAP diet should include the following food items-
• lactose-free milk or other dairy-free alternatives
• cheeses like feta or brie
• fruits – kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and strawberries
• vegetables – lettuce, turnips, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and eggplant
• proteins like tofu, chicken, beef, and fish
Irritable bowel syndrome isn’t incurable or life-threatening, but that doesn’t make it less important. IBS can be awkward, embarrassing, and isolating for a lot of us. Medication plays an important role in this condition, but proper diet and precautions can help you significantly in improving your uncontrollable symptoms. Since every human body differs from one another, therefore, it is important to examine your symptoms and closely monitor your body to check how it reacts to different diets. It is also advised to increase the intake of water and also switch to physical exercises and to consult a doctor or a registered dietician for proper guidance.