Diet For IBS

Diet For IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects as many as 1 in 5 people and is one of the most common gastroenterological conditions. There are a wide range of symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (referred to as IBS) including bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. There are a number of factors which are believed to contribute to the onset of IBS, including both physiological and psychological causes. Because of the variety of symptoms, differing degrees of severity between patients, and multitude of possible underlying causes, there are a number of different treatments available to those who suffer from IBS, that have proven to be effective in treating IBS symptoms, and managing the condition.

One of the most common causes of aggravation of IBS symptoms is a poor diet. This is usually addressed first, after an individual has been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Doctors will generally ask that the patient record their average eating habits for the week, and keep a record of IBS symptoms during this time as well, in order to ascertain how the person’s diet impacts on their IBS. With this information, medical professionals are able to distinguish what is lacking in a person’s diet that may help to alleviate the symptoms of IBS, as well as which foods and drinks act as triggers for the individual, as this differs from person to person.

In order to relieve IBS symptoms, the sufferer needs to address any negative eating habits such as skipping meals/ eating infrequently, consuming an inadequate amount of food high in fibre, not drinking enough fluids, consuming an excessive amount of fatty foods, consuming an excessive amount of caffeine  and alcohol, as well as determine that there are no underlying food allergies or intolerances particularly to milk and dairy. This can be done by eliminating all traces of dairy from the diet for a period of time, usually two weeks, and seeing if this has any impact on the person’s IBS symptoms.

The most common advice given to patients diagnosed with IBS is to follow a high fibre diet. This is particularly effective for individuals who suffer from constipation as a symptom. Others may find that increasing dietary fibre has little or no effect on their symptoms, and in some cases may even cause them to worsen. Increasing fibre in the diet should be done gradually, and accompanied by an increase in the amount of water consumed, with individuals consuming at least 1.5 litres on a daily basis. Diluted teas and juices can also be substituted for water in some patients, or simply to add a little variety to fluids consumed. When initially changing the patients diet, caffeine particularly that found in coffee and soft drinks should be eliminated completely as these are often found to aggravate IBS symptoms. Meal portions also seem to impact on IBS symptoms, which usually worsen after a large meal has been consumed. For this reason, experts generally recommend that people suffering this condition should try to eat 6 smaller meals over the course of a day, rather than three large meals- your standard breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Taking the time to chew food properly, and digesting it has also been effective in treating IBS.

Increasing physical activity is also recommended to people experiencing Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Exercise can not only stimulate endorphins in the brain and help alleviate any depressive or anxiety symptoms the person may be feeling, but it also helps individuals to digest food and stimulates regular bowel movements.

Patients who experience excessive flatulence as a symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome should avoid foods which stimulate wind. Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and legumes including baked beans should be excluded from the diet to help alleviate the flatulence. As symptoms lessen, these foods can gradually be reintroduced into the persons diet, but should be reintroduced one at a time, and in small quantities to ensure the person’s system can handle it. Soft drinks can also have an effect on flatulence. Another method of alleviating excessive flatulence is by ensuring that fluid intake is spread over the course of the day. Again, eliminating all lactose, and dairy foods from one’s diet may prove to be useful in treating IBS symptoms in some individuals. It is important to remember that without these essential nutrients, the diet may lack in calcium and supplements may need to be taken to ensure protection from long term effects of calcium deficiency such as osteoporosis.

By performing regular “challenges”- that is by eliminating one food at a time from a persons diet, and seeing the impact it has on the individuals IBS symptoms before reintroducing it to test for food allergies or intolerances, a person is able to get an idea of which foods trigger symptoms, or aggravate them, and can modify their diet to exclude that food, and find suitable alternatives to replace any vital nutrients found in that particular food.

For Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers, the diet really does make all the difference, and by looking at a person’s diet and determining which foods impact on their symptoms and making necessary dietary modifications, an individual will be able to effectively manage their Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, along with any other necessary, complimentary treatments.