Studies have shown that well over half of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome report their IBS symptoms worsening after meals. Many people with IBS seek to perfect an ‘IBS DIET” to control their symptoms and while the internet is filled with tips on how to go about eliminating problem foods or ‘food triggers’ from you diet, without guidance from an expert in nutrition, you can end up eating an unbalanced diet that isn’t that healthy for your body and immune system health.
How does Food Cause IBS Symptoms and Can an IBS Diet Help?
The gut, or gastrointestinal system, is responsible for processing food, breaking it down, and getting nutrients out of it before getting rid of the waste products. This is a very complex process–many different hormones, digestive enzymes and things to help break down the food are released at different areas in the gut at specific times during the passage of food through the gut. Also, the gut movements and contractions have to be specially coordinated to churn food and move food though the tubes of the gut at the right speed.
Different foods activate different hormones and enzymes. Material such as fibre that is not digestible is also sensed through special sensors in the gut that are part of the ‘gut in the brain’ or the ‘second brain’ as it is often called. Certain types of fibre make IBS symptoms worse in many people–particularly INSOLUBLE fibre. Soluble fibre, on the other hand, can be part of the treatment plan for constipation symptoms of IBS.
So, in this complex process, certain foods can cause reactions in the gut, depending on factors such as the type of bacteria in the gut, the quality of food ingested, the emotional state of the person eating the food, and the size of the meal eaten etc. Certain foods can irritate the gut, or cause certain chemicals to be released into the gut, leading to gut irritation and IBS symptoms. There are good studies that show that eating large meals makes symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome worse in some people, so it is worth experimenting to see if eating more frequent smaller meals makes a difference for you.
The details of all of these factors mentioned above are each discussed in detail in the other articles on this website!