The Role of Food in Your IBS
We are constantly being barraged with plates and pyramids dictating what makes up a healthy diet. Low-fat, moderate fat, only a little protein or a protein portion the size of your palm; lots of fruits and vegetables or lots of grains; none is the perfect answer for everyone. As a matter of fact, some of those guidelines may actually cause your IBS symptoms to flare up. There is no one size fits all answer when it comes to relieving IBS symptoms, but we will say that over the years we have found some common threads with our patients.
Fiber - Yeah we know it should be good for you. Fiber is the thing that adds healthy bulk to your diet. Buzz words like "whole grains" may be appealing, but they may not always be a good choice. Fiber can aggravate your symptoms, especially your diarrhea. Your best bet is to look for soluble fibers like vegetables and fruits. For those with a more sensitive system we often recommend cooking vegetables for easier digestion.
Grains - As discussed above, grains are known to aggravate IBS symptoms. Because of their inflammatory nature we often have patients steer clear of ALL grains, at least until symptoms calm down. Some patients are able to reintroduce grains successfully over time; however, patients with Celiac Disease or non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity are often limited to grains that do not contain rye, wheat, barley, or other grains known to induce a cross-sensitive reaction.
Foods that are Fried - We all love french fries, but fried foods are really hard on your gut, especially for those struggling with IBS.
Beans and Coffee - IBS can appear as diarrhea or constipation, or alternate between the two. Either way it's unpleasant. We often hear about things like beans and coffee “helping things along” but we also hear how they can overshoot the mark and have a bad result. Your best bet: if you already know a food bothers you, don't eat it.
Milk - Like grains, dairy products are known to be inflammatory. For you, this may mean typical IBS symptoms like constipation or diarrhea, in others it may cause joint pain, bloating, or skin problems. Like grains, we often have patients eliminate all dairy until symptoms go away, then we add it back into your diet, one product at a time for a fews day to see how you feel.
There is no cookie cutter solution for each person suffering from IBS even though we often see identical symptoms in those suffering with it. Everyone has a different underlying cause. Keep a journal and list what you eat and when you have problems. These suggestions should be a good starting point for relieving your pain.
Come to one of our FREE Workshops where Dr. Kirshner will answer all your questions about your IBS.