Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of the colon that affects 1 in 7 Canadians and nearly 1 in 5 Americans. Depending on the severity of IBS that a person has, living with frequent symptom flare-ups such as abdominal pains, cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea can be a very painful and inconvenient experience. Although the cause of IBS is still unknown and there is no proven cure, simply changing your diet can help prevent many of these painful symptoms and lead you to live a more comfortable life. Here are some common food triggers to avoid that can cause IBS symptom flare-ups:
Grains: Eating grains such as rye, wheat, and barley are heavy for digestion and may be too much for those with IBS to handle. Grains will sit in the digestive system and highly ferment, which can aggravate IBS symptoms like bloating and cramping, and even cause damage to the intestinal lining.
Dairy: Consuming dairy (i.e. milk, cheese, etc.) may trigger a variety of IBS symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence due to the fat and lactose contained in these products. If you are lactose intolerant and have IBS, you may want to consider reducing the amount of dairy you eat.
Fried Foods: Most would agree that fried foods are incredibly tasty, but very unhealthy, even for those who don’t suffer from IBS. The high fat content found in fried foods is hard on the digestive system and may trigger or worsen diarrhea and abdominal cramps in those with IBS.
Coffee, alcohol, and soda: These 3 are digestive stimulants that can worsen cramps, bloating and diarrhea for IBS patients. Carbonated drinks like soda and beer will increase the amount of gas in your gut. Fructose, an artificial sweetener found in many sodas, can also produce gas. Coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, contain components that are powerful irritants to the digestive system that may cause increased stomach acid production. This can be especially problematic if you have IBS.
Spicy Foods: Heavily spiced foods can irritate the digestive tract of those with IBS and aggravate abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Try to avoid spices such as pepper, curry, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.
Problematic Vegetables: Although vegetables are healthy for you and should be incorporated into everyone’s diet, there are many that will cause excess gas and bloating in those with IBS. Some of these gas-producing veggies include broccoli, beans, onions, cabbage, garlic, celery, cucumbers, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. All of these foods will not trigger symptoms in all IBS patients. It will be different for everyone. You can figure out which of these vegetables cause the most gas by eliminating them from your diet for a few days and then reintroducing them one-by-one slowly. Baking or cooking these vegetables instead of eating them raw may also help prevent IBS flare-ups.
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