What IBS Trigger Foods Should You Avoid?
If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), staying away from specific foods that are likely to worsen your symptoms is the best thing you can do to improve your overall quality of life.
There are certain types of foods which fall into the category of IBS trigger foods because of the adverse effects they exert on your digestive system. Every individual with IBS reacts to food differently, so you may discover that you can endure a food that aggravates symptoms for your friend with IBS.
How to Identify IBS Trigger Foods
Maintaining a simple food diary by monitoring what you consume and the symptoms you experience afterward is an ideal way to identify trigger foods. Moreover, you should read the labels for the foods you purchase, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
Once you can identify the foods that aggravate your IBS symptoms, you can easily develop a strategy to avoid them. You can also focus on bringing issues like constipation, bloating, belly pain and diarrhea to the lowest level possible.
Don't Eat These 6 IBS Trigger Foods
While there are many ways to improving your overall quality of life with irritable bowel syndrome, from taking medication to making simple lifestyle changes, diet can play a significant role in preventing unwanted IBS symptoms.
Read on to learn about the most common types of foods that trigger IBS symptoms.
1. Insoluble Fiber
Fiber introduces a healthy load to the diet. Sources of fiber range from whole grains, fruits, to vegetables. While fiber tolerance varies from person to person, insoluble fiber may trigger or exacerbate diarrhea in certain individuals with IBS. It’s important to keep in mind that while insoluble fiber may alleviate constipation, it can trigger a bloating effect.
Insoluble fiber foods include beans, wheat bran, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
Instead, opt for soluble fiber foods, such as:
- Grains, such as barley and oatmeal.
- Fruits, such as berries, oranges, grapes and mangoes.
- Root vegetables, such as parsnips and carrots.
- Legumes, such as peas.
2. High-Fat Meals
Research has shown that high-fat meals worsen IBS symptoms. Multitudes of studies have shown that people with IBS tend to have a more sensitive gut than those without the condition after consuming fatty foods. High-fat meals are believed to adjust gut flexibility and interfere with gut hormone release that may further affect the flexibility.
Popular high-fat triggers are fried meats, pizza, chips, pies, creamy sauces and sausages. However, you do not have to stick to only low-fat foods.
Instead, opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as:
- Oily fish.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Olive oil.
Gluten is a special protein compound available in a variety of grains, such as wheat, rye and barley. It contains two proteins: glutenin and gliadin. Most individuals react negatively to the gliadin part in a condition called celiac disease. This disease can trigger symptoms akin to those of diarrhea-centered IBS.
Celiac disease develops in some people as a response to the consumption of gluten. This autoimmune disease can result in modifications of intestinal cells leading to poor nutrient absorption.
Some individuals have gluten intolerance minus the immune reaction or fluctuations in the intestinal cells. This condition is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity and triggers symptoms that are similar to those of celiac disease.
Most individuals with IBS also have gluten intolerance. Several studies have revealed that gluten sensitivity may play a major role in the worsening of IBS symptoms for some individuals, and gluten-free diets may relieve these symptoms. However, every person will react to gluten differently.
It is important to keep track of how your body responds to gluten. Luckily, you can substitute gluten-rich products like pasta, pizza, cookies and cakes with gluten-free options.
4. Spicy Food
Hot and spicy foods are a frequently reported trigger of IBS symptoms. Capsaicin is the active constituent of chili that has been proven to elevate gut motility, as well as abdominal pain in certain people.
Other ingredients usually present in spicy meals include onions and garlic that trigger the symptoms. If you have IBS, your intestines may not break down onions and garlic properly, resulting in a gas buildup.
When these flavoring agents are raw, they can cause cramping and painful gas. Even the cooked versions can serve as triggers for IBS symptoms.
5. Dairy Products
Dairy qualifies as a trigger due to two reasons. First, it consists of fats that can intensify diarrhea. Secondly, many individuals with IBS also have lactose intolerance.
Switching to non-fat or low-fat dairy products is the ideal way of lessening the symptoms. Additionally, individuals who have IBS and are also lactose intolerant should opt for dairy alternatives, such as soy cheese and rice milk.
6. Sugar-Free Sweeteners
Sugar-free sweeteners, popularly called sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, polyols and sugar substitutes, are usually available in sugarless candy, diet drinks, gum and even mouthwash. These sweeteners consist of components like acesulfame potassium, sucralose and aspartame.
Many IBS sufferers find it difficult to absorb these ingredients. It is therefore important that you check labels and determine if your sugar-free product contains any of these hard-to-absorb ingredients.
Planning Ahead With IBS
It is imperative to bear in mind that the above-mentioned food triggers vary from one person to another. Some individuals with IBS may find that they can endure certain meals that may be considered off-limits to others living with IBS. It's best to familiarize yourself with your body and identify foods that make you feel happy and stay away from those that trigger IBS symptoms.
While you may think it is easier to tackle all of these foods on this list at once in order to find out which foods trigger your IBS symptoms, but it is best to start with one at a time and journal your reactions for at least a week. Once you have identified which foods trigger IBS flare-ups, you can begin working on substituting or removing them from your diet.
You can also seek professional guidance from a qualified dietician if you need additional help in planning an IBS diet that would help manage your IBS symptoms.