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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The Role Diet Plays in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Diet plays a crucial role in managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Individuals with IBS need to work closely with healthcare professionals, such as dietitians and gastroenterologists, to create a personalized diet plan that suits their specific needs and helps manage their symptoms effectively. IBS management is available at Primary Prevention Center. For more information contact us or request an appointment online. We are located at 638 Newtown-Yardley Road Suite 2G Newtown, PA 18940.

The Role Diet Plays in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
The Role Diet Plays in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Table of Contents:

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?
What kind of diet is best for IBS?
What are 5 foods to avoid if you have IBS?
What is traditional dietary advice for IBS?

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, affects the gastrointestinal tract and can cause a variety of symptoms, such as bloating, cramping, and bouts of constipation, diarrhea, or both. Some people with IBS also experience urgency, which is the need to use the bathroom immediately, and this can significantly affect daily life.

The intensity of IBS symptoms can vary widely from person to person and over time. It’s common for symptoms to fluctuate, with periods of severe symptoms followed by times when they diminish or even disappear. For many, IBS symptoms are triggered by eating certain foods or by stress. It’s encouraged to eat a healthy diet and manage stress to alleviate IBS symptoms.

If you notice symptoms of IBS, you should see a doctor, as they can overlap with the symptoms of more serious conditions. More serious symptoms that warrant prompt medical evaluation include unexplained weight loss, rectal bleeding, diarrhea at night, and pain that isn’t relieved by passing gas or a bowel movement.

What kind of diet is best for IBS?

The best diet for you depends on your symptoms, how your body reacts to dietary changes, your allergies, and your preferences. It’s recommended to steer clear of fried or fatty foods and opt for easier-to-digest proteins, like eggs, turkey, fish, or tofu. If you experience constipation, you should focus on eating a fiber-rich diet, by choosing whole grains like oats and quinoa as well as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Many find relief by following a low-FODMAP diet, which means limiting foods that are known to cause gas and bloating. This includes certain fruits, vegetables, sweeteners, and dairy products. Starting this diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional can help you identify which foods trigger your symptoms to know what you should avoid in the future.

What are 5 foods to avoid if you have IBS?

If you have IBS, healthcare professionals advise that you avoid or limit certain foods to prevent unpleasant symptoms. These include:

Dairy products – Instead of lactose products, it’s recommended that people with IBS consider alternatives like almond or soy milk to avoid symptoms like gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
Foods high in fructose – High fructose corn syrup, which is found in many processed foods, can aggravate IBS symptoms. In addition, fructose can be found in healthy foods, like apples or mangos. It’s best to opt for low-fructose options, like berries and bananas.
Caffeine – Caffeinated drinks can stimulate the intestines and trigger symptoms of IBS, particularly diarrhea. You should try to limit the amount of coffee, tea, and energy drinks you consume to see if there is a difference in your symptoms.
Carbonated beverages – The bubbles in carbonated drinks like soda can trap gas in the digestive system and lead to increased bloating and discomfort.
Sugar-free chewing gums – Artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, are commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum and can cause diarrhea. 

What is traditional dietary advice for IBS?

Most commonly, doctors recommend that patients follow a low-FODMAP diet to alleviate symptoms of IBS. This approach involves reducing the intake of foods that are high in certain fermentable carbohydrates known as FODMAPs, which are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. 

FODMAPs can be found in a wide range of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and sweeteners, and are often poorly digested and absorbed by the digestive system. When poorly digested and absorbed, FODMAPs move into the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria, producing gas and drawing in water. This is what leads to the classic symptoms of IBS such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Due to these effects, healthcare professionals at Primary Prevention Center often recommend a low-FODMAP diet to prevent unpleasant symptoms. However, various other foods can contribute to IBS symptoms, so what works for one person may not work for another. It may take a bit of “trial and error” before you find a diet that works well for you.

How does Primary Prevention Center help with IBS management?

Working with a dietitian is one of the best ways to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) because they are nutrition experts and can provide personalized guidance on dietary changes that can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall gut health.

One important approach that dietitians often recommend is an elimination diet, where potential trigger foods are removed from the diet to identify specific food intolerances or sensitivities that may be exacerbating symptoms. After a period of elimination, foods are gradually reintroduced one at a time to determine which ones are causing issues. This process can help individuals pinpoint their triggers and develop a personalized diet plan that minimizes symptoms.

For individuals with IBS or IBD who may struggle with nutrient absorption or have difficulty getting enough nutrients from their diet due to restrictions or sensitivities, IV vitamin therapy can be a helpful supplement. IV vitamin therapy delivers essential nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and ensuring optimal absorption. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have nutrient deficiencies or malabsorption issues related to their gut health conditions.

Overall, working with a dietitian to implement an elimination diet, reintroduce foods strategically, and consider additional supportive therapies like IV vitamin therapy can play a crucial role in managing IBS and IBD, improving symptoms, and optimizing overall gut health. For more information contact us or request an appointment online. We are located at 638 Newtown-Yardley Road Suite 2G Newtown, PA 18940. We serve patients from Newtown PA, Richboro PA, Newtown Grant PA, Churchville PA, Woodbourne PA, Yardley PA, Langhorne PA, and surrounding areas.

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638 Newtown Yardley Rd Suite 2G/H, Newtown, PA 18940.