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10 Simple Tips To Follow On An IBS Diet

Eat to Thrive! Dealing with IBS or other digestive disorders? Follow my 10 simple IBS diet tips, and start feeling better today! Visit my website for low FODMAP recipes & meal plans, and to learn about my digestive health integrative nutrition coaching sessions at EA Stewart, Spicy RD Nutrition, www.eastewart.com

Wondering what can you eat when you have irritable bowel syndrome? Start with these 10 simple IBS diet tips & download my free IBS Diet Tip Sheet. You can start feeling better today!

What is IBS?

IBS is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In a nutshell, IBS is caused by changes in the way the GI tract works. Unlike other GI disorders such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, IBS does not damage the GI tract,

But, the reality is that the symptoms can be severe and debilitating for many people, affecting their day-to-day life, which is why it is so important to raise IBS awareness.

Chances are, if you do not have IBS yourself, you know several people who do. The good news is that, with proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to live well, and thrive with IBS!

Who is affected by IBS?

IBS affects a large number of people with estimates of up to 20% of the general population, averaging between 10-15%. Both men and women may develop IBS, but it more commonly occurs in women.

Although there is still a lot to learn about what predisposes someone to developing IBS, some theories proposed by researchers include:

  • People with IBS may have greater colon sensitivity than others.
  • IBS symptoms may be triggered by hormonal symptoms. This may partly explain the greater number of women who suffer from IBS, versus men.
  • Varying levels {increased or decreased} of neurotransmitters produced in the gut, such as serotonin, may act on digestive tract nerves triggering IBS symptoms.
  • Contractions in the gut may be perceived in the brain differently by people with IBS, but IBS is NOT all in your head! Research suggests, however, that anxiety, stress, and depression may all contribute to symptoms of IBS. Various mind-body therapies, may be helpful in managing IBS symptoms.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms can vary amongst individuals, but common IBS symptoms may include bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

Since these symptoms can occur in many different disorders, as well as in healthy individuals, it is important to work with a physician and health care team specializing in IBS to get the correct diagnosis, and successfully manage your symptoms of IBS.

How is IBS diagnosed?

Although IBS is sometimes diagnosed after ruling out other GI disorders {i.e. celiac disease, Crohn’s, colitis, GI cancers}, current recommendations from The American College of Gastroenterology are that IBS not be diagnosed by excluding other GI disorders, but by using the Rome criteria subtypes.

  • IBS with predominant diarrhea
  • IBS with predominant constipation
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits
  • IBS unclassified

How is IBS treated?

Although there is no single, specific treatment for IBS, symptoms of IBS can be treated successfully through diet, medication, and lifestyle changes, or, through a combination of all of these approaches, including both traditional and non-traditional.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in the IBS diet, I find a holistic, integrated approach works best with my clients, and that collaboration with other health-care professionals {i.e. physician, dietitian, therapist, etc} is key to living well and thriving with IBS.

10 Simple IBS Diet and Nutrition Tips

As noted above, there is no once best IBS diet strategy, however there are several simple diet changes you might want to start out with to help manage your IBS symptoms:

  1. Eliminate or minimize potentially high-gas forming foods such as cauliflower, cabbage, beans, and carbonated beverages.
  2. Avoid chewing gum or drinking liquids through a straw, both of which can lead to swallowing air, and causing more gas. No fun!
  3. Minimize fried food, or other fatty foods which may slow down digestion.
  4. Avoid large meals and consume smaller, more frequent meals instead. Note: This strategy may work for some, but not everyone, especially if small intestinal bacterial overgrowth {SIBO} is present. In this case, it’s best to space meal and snacks at least 3-4 hours apart to initiate the migrating motor complex {MMI}.
  5. Minimize foods high in lactose such as milk, ice cream, and soft cheeses, especially if lactose intolerance is suspected. Hard cheeses, lactose-free milk/ice cream/yogurt or kefir, which tend to be lower in lactose than other dairy products, may be better tolerated. Dairy free products, like this Easy 1-Minute Almond Milk may also be well tolerated-just try and avoid commercial products with added fillers (i.e gums) and sugars.
  6. Drink adequate fluids to help alleviate constipation.
  7. Avoid or minimize alcohol and caffeine, especially if diarrhea is present, as both substances can stimulate the intestines. In addition, alcohol may lead to changes in intestinal permeability, sometimes referred to as leaky gut syndrome, which may exacerbate symptoms of IBS.
  8. Stay away from artificial sweeteners that contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, and which may also cause diarrhea.
  9. Consume foods rich in soluble fiber such as oatmeal, oat bran, oranges, strawberries, nuts, and carrots. Note: Although foods rich in soluble fiber may help IBS symptoms, foods high in insoluble fiber, such as whole wheat, wheat bran, raisins, and corn bran may further aggravate IBS symptoms in some people. In addition, other sources of soluble fiber, such as lentils, apples, pears, and beans, may also not be tolerated, as they are sources of fermentable carbohydrates {see below}.
  10. Probiotics, fiber supplements, peppermint oil, & other supplements may also help. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to supplementation, so be sure and check with your physician, dietitian or health care provider for recommendations.

Tried all of these simple IBS diet strategies & still not feeling well?

Many of my clients benefit from a Low FODMAP Diet which temporarily eliminates or reduces high FODMAP foods including apples, onions, garlic, wheat, beans, milk, and many more. The Low FODMAP diet has a success rate of up to 75%, so it’s definitely worth trying if you have IBS!

MRT Food Sensitivity Testing + a customized LEAP elimination diet, is another tool is sometimes use with my clients with IBS, either alone, or in conjunction with a Low FODMAP diet.

References

Download your FREE Guide & Start Feeling Better Today!

Have you tried managing an IBS diet on your own, but still not feeling well? Have you given up most of your favorite foods, but still having symptoms? I’d love to work with you!

My ultimate goal is to help you add nourishing & delicious foods BACK into your diet, while minimizing IBS symptoms. Get in touch with me today. I’d love to hear your story and see how I can help!

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