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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (cont.)

Is There a Specific Diet Plan for a Person with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Diet and lifestyle changes are important in decreasing the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms.

The first thing your doctor may suggest is to keep a food diary. This will help you figure out foods that trigger your symptoms.

  • Limit foods that contain ingredients that can stimulate the intestines and cause diarrhea, such as:
  • Some vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and legumes (beans) may worsen bloating and gassiness and should be avoided.
  • A high fiber diet may lessen symptoms of constipation.
  • Drink plenty of water, and avoid carbonated drinks such as soda, which may cause gas and discomfort.
  • Eat smaller meals and eat slowly to help reduce cramping and diarrhea.
  • Low fat, high carbohydrate meals such as pasta, rice, and whole-grain breads may help (unless you have celiac disease).
  • Probiotic supplements such as lactobacillus acidophilus or prebiotics may help alleviate IBS symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel movement irregularity.
  • A diet low in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides And Polyols), a group of short-chain carbohydrates, may help relieve IBS symptoms. Consult your doctor for more information.

What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Whether you have IBS-D or IBS-C, there are foods to avoid that may trigger symptoms.

Certain foods may worsen bloating and gassiness. Foods to avoid include cruciferous vegetables and legumes, such as:

  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Horseradish
  • Watercress
  • Wasabi
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collard greens

Legumes also may worsen gassiness and bloating, for example:

  • Black beans
  • lack-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Edamame
  • Fava beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • Soy nuts

Some foods may trigger symptoms of abdominal cramps and diarrhea, including:

  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sorbitol (a sweetener found in many diet foods, candies, and gums)
  • Fructose (found naturally in honey and some fruits, and also used as a sweetener)

Eating large meals may also trigger abdominal cramping and diarrhea.

What Other Lifestyle Changes Help Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms?

In addition to dietary changes, there are some healthy habits that may also help reduce IBS symptoms.

  • Maintain good physical fitness to improve bowel function and help reduce stress.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking for overall good health.
  • Avoid coffee/caffeine and chewing gum.
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption may help.
  • Stress management can help prevent or ease IBS symptoms.
    • Use relaxation techniques: deep breathing, visualization, Yoga
    • Do things you find enjoyable: talk to friends, read, listen to music
    • Gut-directed hypnosis can reduce stress and anxiety
    • Biofeedback teaches you to recognize your body's responses to stress and you can learn to slow your heart rate and relax.
  • Pain management techniques can improve tolerance to pain
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy or psychotherapy with trained counselors

What Are the Complications of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

IBS has few associated complications. IBS does not lead to rectal bleeding, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis. Diarrhea and constipation may aggravate hemorrhoids in people who already have them. If a person eliminates too many foods from their diet, and the diet is too limited in nutrients that could cause health problems.

The effect on a person's quality of life is the biggest complication of IBS. Stress and anxiety can result from the pain, and can impact a person's daily life.

Can Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Be Prevented?

Follow the diet and lifestyle recommendations as outlined above, and as discussed with your physician. Avoiding triggers is the best way to prevent symptoms of IBS.

What Is the Outlook for a Person with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Because irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic (long-term) disease, symptoms usually return from time to time. This may be influenced by factors such as stress, diet, or other environmental causes. No known treatment cures IBS. Multiple factors may play a role in aggravating IBS, so it is difficult to predict what triggers may make IBS worse in a particular person. Establishing a good relationship with a health-care professional may help alleviate concerns over symptoms and allow rapid recognition of changing or worsening symptoms.

REFERENCES:

Aragon G. et al. "Probiotic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2010;6(1):39-44.
<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886445/>

Camilleri, M. "Current and future pharmacological treatments for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome." Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 2013. 14 (9), 1151-1160.
Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. "IBS and IBD: Two Very Different Disorders."
<http://www.ccfa.org/resources/ibs-and-ibd-two-very.html>

Jeffrey S. Hyams, M.D. Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children. National Institutes of Health. Jun 25, 2014.
<http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ibs-in-children/Pages/facts.aspx\>

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "IBS Diet: Cramping and Diarrhea." Jun 14, 2016.
<http://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-diet/cramping-and-diarrhea.html>

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "IBS in the Real World." Jul 26, 2016.
<http://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-with-diarrhea.html>

National Cancer Institute. "What are cruciferous vegetables?" Jun 07, 2012.
<http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet>


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/29/2016

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional GI disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of specific and unique organic pathology.

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