The month of April has been designated as IBS Awareness Month by the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders to help focus attention on irritable bowel disease – a condition that affects about 10-15% of the population causing GI symptoms such as stomach pain, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Many people are unsure how to manage their condition due to the inconsistent nature of symptoms. Here are some suggestions regarding the best and worst foods for irritable bowel disease:
The best foods for IBS:
- Lean meats: They contain protein that is easily digestible and not fermented by gut bacteria, which means less gas production.
- Eggs: They are a safe choice of people with IBS as they can be easily digested by most people and can be eaten hard or soft boiled, scrambled, poached, or as an omelet.
- Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are good examples of omega-3 containing fish. They have anti-inflammatory properties that help control IBS symptoms.
- Low-FODMAP fruits and vegetables: FODMAPs are carbohydrates that trigger IBS Examples of low-FODMAP foods include broccoli, carrots, eggplant, green beans, sweet potato, cabbage, avocado, banana, blueberries, grapes, pineapple, and strawberry.
- Low-FODMAP Nuts: They are a good source of fiber, protein, and good fat. Good examples of nuts that can be enjoyed by the handful include walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, and pecan.
- Low-FODMAP Seeds: Chia seeds and flaxseeds offer the best benefits for those who have constipation-predominant IBS. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are other good examples of seeds that are not known as trigger symptoms.
- Yogurt: It contains probiotics which are good bacteria that improve gut health and reduce IBS symptoms.
The worst foods for IBS:
- Greasy foods: Foods high in fat content such as pizzas, sausages, French fries, creamy gravy foods, and burgers can strengthen intestinal contractions triggering IBS.
- Spicy foods: Chili peppers which are present in most spicy foods may cause abdominal pain in people with IBS.
- Wheat: A protein called gluten present in wheat may be difficult to digest for some people and could trigger IBS symptoms.
- Artificial sweeteners: These food products present in most sugar-free or diet foods are poorly tolerated by people with IBS symptoms causing bloating and gas.
- Dairy products: Most people with IBS are also lactose intolerant and eating dairy products often triggers their symptoms.
- High-FODMAP fruits and vegetables: Apples, blackberries, cherries, mango, peaches, plums, watermelon, pomegranates, beets, cauliflower, leeks, mushroom, onions, and peas are examples of high-FODMAP fruits and vegetables that should be avoided.
- Coffee: Caffeine is a known trigger for some people. Try to eliminate it for a few days to see if symptoms improve.
It is important that you focus on eating balanced meals and do not stop eating whole categories of food altogether or you may end up with nutritional deficiencies. Try the food suggestions mentioned above to see what works best for you.