Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a fairly common disorder that causes distress in the large intestine. Its symptoms can be potentially embarrassing and painful and include constipation, diarrhea, cramps, and gas.
While there is no cure for IBS, there are certain steps you can take to manage the condition, and many people have found success with switching to a diet that is gentler on their digestive tracts. However, when planning your irritable bowel syndrome diet, it’s important to remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. A diet that works for some people may not necessarily work for you. With a little experimentation, though, you are likely to find one that is beneficial for your specific set of symptoms. Here is a quick look at three of the most common diets that people use when suffering from IBS.
The High-Fiber Diet
Some people may find that increasing their intake of fiber helps reduce their symptoms. Fiber is a heart-healthy nutrient that promotes normal digestion, so it can be particularly helpful if you suffer from chronic constipation. According to the institute of medicine, most women need at least 25 grams of it per day, while men should aim for 38 grams. Some common high-fiber foods include all varieties of beans, whole grain wheat and pastas, and fresh fruits in vegetables. A word of caution though—if you suffer from bloating, too much fiber may make this condition worse.
The Low-Fiber Diet
If your IBS symptoms include frequent gas and diarrhea, switching to a low-fiber diet may be your best bet. However, this doesn’t mean you should eliminate it from your diet completely—it has too many other health benefits to do that. Instead, aim to incorporate foods that contain a specific kind, soluble fiber, while reducing your intake of insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is easy to digest, lowers cholesterol, and promotes general heart health without causing the bloating that’s common with insoluble fiber. Certain fruits, such as apples and berries, are a great source of this nutrient. Additionally, you may want to take digestive medicine prior to eating fibrous foods in order to minimize their negative side effects.
The Elimination Diet
Some people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome are only negatively affected by certain foods. However, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly which specific foods are giving you trouble. To figure out exactly what is exacerbating your IBS symptoms, use an elimination diet. This involves abstaining from certain foods for roughly three months in order to see if your IBS symptoms improve. If they don’t, you can reincorporate the eliminated food and try again with another. Some common foods that may cause digestive trouble include coffee, nuts, chocolate, and foods high in insoluble fiber, so it’s best to start by eliminating these first.
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