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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Foods To Avoid

What foods trigger IBS?

Diet modification is crucial for managing IBS symptomsDiet modification is crucial for managing IBS symptoms

Diet modification is crucial for managing IBS symptoms. Different foods may trigger IBS in different people. Some common food triggers include:

Foods triggering diarrhea in people with IBS:

  • Fried and fatty foods
  • A diet with too much fiber especially the insoluble fiber present in the skin of fruits and vegetables
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Fructose (a type of sugar)
  • Sorbitol (a type of sugar alcohol used as a sweetener)
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Large or heavy meals
  • Dairy products 
  • Foods containing gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) such as most cereal, grains, pasta and many processed foods.

What causes IBS?

The exact triggers of inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) are not known. Research suggests that the condition is caused by a combination of problems. Different people may get IBS due to different triggers. 

IBS is a type of functional bowel or gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. This means that although it causes disturbing symptoms, it does not cause any structural damage to the bowel. Functional GI disorders are caused by problems with how the brain and gut work together (brain-gut interaction). Thus, a faulty brain-gut interaction in some people with IBS may cause the food to move too slowly or too quickly through the gut. This causes changes in bowel movements. 

Certain factors are associated with IBS. These include:

  • Family history of IBS (genetic factors)
  • Stressful or problematic early life events, such as emotional, sexual or physical abuse
  • Some mental disorders including depression, anxiety and somatic symptom disorder (a condition in which  a person feels extreme, exaggerated anxiety about physical symptoms such as pains and aches) 
  • Bacterial infections in the digestive tract
  • Small bowel bacterial overgrowth, an increase in the number or a change in the type of bacteria in the small bowel 
  • Certain food intolerances or sensitivities such as sensitivity to processed or junk foods, carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol.

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a medical condition affecting the large bowel.  It is a group of symptoms occurring together, including repeated pain in the abdomen, cramping, bloating and changes in the bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation or both. The typical feature of IBS is that these symptoms occur without any visible signs of damage or disease in the gut. IBS can cause a huge amount of discomfort, however, it does not damage the intestines.

It is a common condition affecting about twice as many women as men. IBS is most often reported in people younger than 45 years of age. The exact cause of IBS is not known. The condition does not have any specific test for it. Tests may be done to exclude other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and certain cancers. Most cases of IBS are effectively managed with diet, stress management, probiotics and medicine.

What is a low FODMAP diet for IBS?

A low FODMAP diet is a special type of diet that may help manage IBS. In this diet certain foods that contain difficult to digest carbohydrates (FODMAPs) are avoided or reduced. 

Some of the foods containing FODMAPs are:

  1. Certain fruits and their juices including apples, mango, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, plums and watermelon
  2. Vegetables such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, garlic and garlic salts, lentils, mushrooms, onions and sugar snap or snow peas
  3. Dairy products such as milk, soft cheeses, yogurt, custard, and ice cream
  4. Wheat and rye products
  5. Honey 
  6. Foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
  7. Food products including candy and gum, with sweeteners ending in “–ol,” (sugar alcohols) including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol

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