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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet


How Does a Good Diet Help IBS?

For many people, eating a proper diet lessens IBS symptoms. Before changing your diet, it is a good idea to keep a journal noting which foods seem to cause distress. You may want to consult a registered dietitian, who can help you make changes in your diet. For instance, if dairy products cause your symptoms to flare up, you can try eating less of those foods. Yogurt might be tolerated better because it contains organisms that supply lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk products. Because dairy products are an important source of calcium and other nutrients that your body needs, be sure to get adequate nutrients in the foods that you substitute. Removing known food allergens from your diet may offer some relief. The most common food allergens are wheat, eggs, dairy products, corn, soy, peanuts, citrus procucts, fish, and tomatoes.

Dietary fiber may lessen IBS symptoms in some cases. Whole grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of fiber. Consult with your physician before using fiber supplements. High-fiber diets keep the colon mildly distended, which may help to prevent spasms from occuring. Some forms of fiber also keep water in the stools, thereby preventing hard stools that are difficult to pass. Doctors usually recommend that you eat just enough fiber so that you have soft, easily passed, and painless bowel movements. High-fiber diets may cause gas and bloating, but within a few weeks, these symptoms often go away as your body adjusts to the diet.

Large meals may cause cramping and diarrhea in people with IBS. The symptoms can be lessened if you eat smaller meals more often and/or eat smaller servings. This should help, especially if your meals are low in fat and high in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables.


References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health

last update: December 2008


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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