Food for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
I have discussed (in the about IBS section) the importance of stress already. Now, I will talk about finding any foods that are ‘triggers’ for your IBS symptoms. Food for irritable bowel syndrome is a much talked about topic but can be very confusing to sort through on your own. These articles will help you to do just that. Some people may not be able to identify ANY food triggers, whereas other people will notice a definite increase in their symptoms when they eat certain foods. Again this is about getting IN TUNE with your BODY, not starting on a crazy-obsessive restrictive diet! THis should NOT cause you MORE stress, only increase your awareness of how your body and your gut can talk to you to help you gain control over IBS.
The best way to find the food triggers that exist in your current diet is to do a one week Food Diary!
Common IBS Trigger foods: Things to Avoid
Some foods, herbs and drinks are irritating to the gut lining, which is like our ‘skin on the inside,’, just like certain things can be irritating to our skin on our bodies. Some things are irritating because they take lots of digestive power and enzymes to digest, whereas other things on this list are acidic or spicy and can cause inflammation to the gut lining or ‘gut skin’ lining our intestines. You can test for yourself which of these foods is a trigger for you. It is best to test one item only for a period of at least a few days so you know what it is that is causing the trigger. For example, if you are drinking 2 cups of coffee, eat fried food, and a spicy curry all in one or two days, it could be one (or all!) of those things causing your symptoms to get worse. To see what are the ones YOU should avoid, try to only consume one ‘trigger’ food/drink per day in the ‘trial’ or ‘trigger discovery’ period.
- Fried food
- High fat foods (especially animal fats)
- caffeine drinks: coffee, soda, tea, dark chocolate
- spicy foods and spices and herbs (hot peppers, chilli powder, hot sauce, pepper, etc)
- Sugar–both the stuff you put in coffee/tea and the sugar already in packaged foods. High glycemic index fruits can also be a trigger (see my article on glycemic index for details on which fruits these are–berries are low glycemic vs. bananas are high)
- Acidic foods: Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, grapefruits, etc), tomatoes
- too much fibre (if bloating is a main symptom)
Cigarette smoking, whether you are smoking or it is second-hand smoke, is also a trigger
In addition to foods that are generally irritating and may be ‘triggers’ for IBS, there are also certain foods that may cause an actual intolerance or type of ‘gut allergy,’ This is still debated in the conventional literature but more evidence is emerging for food intolerance playing a role in IBS and many patients who cut out these foods have a great improvement in their symptoms and even have NO MORE IBS SYMPTOMS. There is no great blood test or skin test for these types of ‘allergies’ but based on symptoms and a trial of elimination, avoiding one or more of these things may lead to better IBS control. Most people are only sensitive to one or a few, so it is important to be your own food detective again here and try eliminating each one by one, a week at a time. Keeping a journal of your IBS symptoms is a good way to see if one of these may be an ‘intolerance’ food for you!
Most common food ‘intolerances’:
- dairy products (especially Cow’s milk dairy products)
- gluten and wheat
- corn and corn by-products
- citrus fruits