Foods To Avoid With IBS | Allergy Test

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that includes a group of symptoms affecting the large intestines. Even though the symptoms aren’t life-threatening, the condition is a chronic condition that you’ll need to manage long-term. Most IBS symptoms center around the gastrointestinal tract. Only an insignificant number of people suffer from severe IBS symptoms. Most people can manage their symptoms by managing their diet, stress, and lifestyle. When you know IBS foods to avoid, you’ll be in the clear. However, those with severe symptoms can get treatment through medication and counseling. There are different types of IBS based on bowel movement problems you have. Certain medications work for different types of IBS. The kinds of IBS include:

  • IBS with constipation (IBS-C): Most of your poop is hard and lumpy.
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): You have both hard and lumpy bowel movements and loose and watery movements on the same day.
  • IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D): Most of your poop is loose and watery.

The common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen, are related to passing a bowel movement.
  • Excess gas.
  • Mucus in your poop (may look whitish).
  • Bowel movements that are harder or looser than usual
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or alternating between the two.

The foods we consume daily tend to be foods that trigger IBS symptoms. These foods can either stimulate or trigger the IBS causing symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, pain, and gas. Most IBS trigger foods are high in fat, carbonation, caffeine, alcohol, and insoluble fiber. These foods include:

  1. Soda and seltzer
  2. Fried foods
  3. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate

Many foods that trigger IBS are high in FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols). FODMAPs contain hard-to-digest carbohydrates because they’re challenging to absorb, irritate the small intestines, and take more water to the bowel.

 

IBS trigger foods

Certain foods trigger IBS symptoms. These are some of the bad IBS foods.

 

Insoluble fiber

Fiber present in food is good for a healthy gut. Foods rich in fiber include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. There are mainly two types of fibers present in foods soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is present in most fruits, beans, and oat products. However, insoluble fiber is present in whole grain products and vegetables. When you’re suffering from IBS, it is better to stick with soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber can sometimes make the pain of bloating worse. Even though insoluble fiber can worsen symptoms of some individuals, others may find this kind of fiber good for them. IBS is specific to individuals. Even though beans contain soluble fiber, they can worsen IBS symptoms in some individuals. Since IBS is individualized, you need to understand what your body wants and what it doesn’t. What’s good for someone else could be your worst food for IBS.

 

An image of various dairies.

An image of various dairies.

Dairy

Dairy often is an IBS trigger food for many individuals due to the high amounts of fat that causes diarrhea. If you find you’re among these people, you need to switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy to reduce these symptoms. If you feel dairy products heighten your symptoms, switching to plant-based milk and soy-based cheese are good foods for IBS. If you decide to cut off dairy products altogether, you can consume other calcium-rich foods like greens, beans, nuts, sardines, and seeds to replace milk.

 

Beans and legumes

Plant proteins like beans, lentils, and peas are a great source of fiber but can be bad IBS foods. Beans and legumes contain compounds known as oligosaccharides that are resistant to digestion by intestinal enzymes. Even though beans can increase stool bulk and relieve constipation, they can also increase bloating, gas, and cramps. You can try soaking beans overnight and then rinsing them before cooking, as it helps your body digest them more easily. If this doesn’t help, you might need to avoid them.

 

Gluten

Gluten is present in rye, barley, and wheat, and consuming these grains can be among the foods that trigger IBS. If you always experience symptoms after consuming foods with gluten, you can try a gluten-free diet to see if it helps. According to a study, most people suffering from IBS who opt for a gluten-free diet improve their symptoms {1}. Gluten-free grains and flours include quinoa, sorghum, oats, buckwheat, almond flour, and coconut flour.

 

Fried foods

Most western foods include high-fat foods like french fries which are among the worst foods for IBS. Overeating these foods can cause health problems, and their high-fat content can make them difficult to digest, especially if you’re suffering from IBS. Frying foods change their chemical makeup, making it difficult for the body to digest. You can opt to grill or bake your favorite fried foods.

 

Caffeinated drinks

Even though some people use coffee early in the morning for digestive regularity, it can stimulate the intestines causing diarrhea, especially for people with IBS. If you have IBS, it is better to avoid coffee, especially if you’ve witnessed these symptoms upon consumption.

 

Processed foods

These foods often contain lots of added sugars, salt, and fat. Eating too much of such foods can cause health problems for anyone, especially those suffering from IBS, primarily because of the additives and preservatives in such foods.

 

Chocolate

You might think chocolate is good for you, but not if you have IBS. Chocolate contains lots of fats and sugar, which is an IBS trigger food. It is also common to find ingredients like caffeine and lactose in chocolate. All these ingredients often result in constipation after eating chocolate. You can always choose vegan chocolate options that you find more tolerable.

 

Alcohol

Because of alcohol digestion in the body, you’ll often find that alcohol triggers IBS symptoms. Alcohol can also result in dehydration affecting digestion. When suffering from IBS, you need to limit how often you drink, and when you do, avoid alcoholic drinks with gluten, high amounts of sugar, plain seltzer, and artificial sweeteners.

 

Broccoli and cauliflower

Both vegetables are difficult to digest and may trigger IBS symptoms. When getting digested, these foods often cause gas and constipation. If eating them raw bothers your belly, try sauteing or roasting them.

 

Garlic and onions

These two typical food flavorings are difficult for your intestines to break down, leading to gas. Painful gas and cramping in those with IBS are often signs of consuming garlic and onions, even when cooked.

 

Sugar-free sweeteners

Sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption, especially if you have IBS. Sugar-free sweeteners are often present in sugarless candy, gum, most diet drinks, and mouthwash. These sweeteners are problematic for the body to absorb, resulting in IBS symptoms.

 

Best foods for IBS

IBS doesn’t completely prevent you from eating all types of foods. Here are some foods to eat with IBS.

 

Eggs

Eggs are easy to digest, don’t upset the colon, and are a good source of proteins. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that eggs are the best food for IBS. If you still feel they trigger symptoms, you may need to indulge in an elimination diet.

 

Lean meats

Lean meats are among the best foods to eat with IBD. These include lean cuts of beef (e.g., sirloin, top/bottom round steaks), pork, white meat chicken, and white meat turkey. Not only are these a good source of protein, but they also give you great meal-planning options. If you can find free-range meat, that’ll be even better since these are high-content, benefiting your gut bacteria. During the digestion of lean meats, your body finds it easy, thus not producing gas. It would be best to avoid dark meat cuts unless it’s grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork, or free-range poultry.

 

Salmon and Other Omega-3 Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are popular for their anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Since inflammation can result in more IBS symptoms, consuming more omega-3s will help you. Examples include herring, black cod, anchovies, whitefish, wild-caught salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel.

 

Low-FODMAP Vegetables

Most people with IBS avoid vegetables since some types of vegetables have a terrible effect on their gastrointestinal tract. However, it’s not necessary to avoid vegetables because some of them are good for your gut bacteria and they’re IBS-friendly foods. Certain vegetables are low in FODMAP that you can introduce to your diet. These include:

  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn (half a cob)
  • Eggplant
  • Turnip
  • Water chestnut
  • Zucchini
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Tomato

Sometimes raw vegetables are harsher on your digestive system. You can, however, saute, grill, or steam them for them to be gentler on your system.

 

Nuts and seeds

An image of our Food Allergy & Intolerance Test Kit.

Nuts and seeds are good for your general health and offer anti-inflammatory advantages. You can either enjoy nuts as they are on in the form of butter. Most seeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds that are good for IBS include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds (limit 10)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts (limit 10)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts

 

Fermented foods

These foods contain natural probiotics, a type of bacteria that’s good for you. You can add more fermented foods into your diet like:

  • Fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Fermented drinks, like kefir or kombucha
  • Yogurt (without added sugar)

 

Low-FODMAP Fruits

Even though certain fruits may make your IBS symptoms worse, certain fruits may be good for your IBS. Low FODMAP fruits are safer, but you may need to only eat a few in one sitting to prevent gas and fermentation. These fruits include:

  • Avocado (limit 1/8 of a whole)
  • Banana
  • Papaya (pawpaw)
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Olives
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Orange
  • Strawberry
  • Tangelo

 

Low-FODMAP Greens

Green vegetables are good for your health, and some are unlikely to cause fermentation and gas. You can add these green vegetables to your smoothies, juices, and salads if possible. However, leafy greens are less likely to trigger IBS symptoms when cooked. These greens include:

  • Arugula (rocket lettuce)
  • Spinach (baby)
  • Swiss chard
  • Common cabbage
  • Endive
  • Bok choy
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Radicchio

 

Bone broth

Bone broth, especially homemade bone broth, contains nutrients that benefit the intestinal lining and gut bacteria.

 

Food diary for IBS

When suffering from IBS, you will have to undergo an elimination diet to help you know the foods that trigger your IBS and those that are good for you. You can start by eliminating certain groups of foods and then seeing how you’ll feel afterward. If eliminating these foods makes you feel good, you can completely cut them from your diet.

 

Benefits of an intolerance or allergy test for IBS

Most of the time, IBS, intolerance, and allergies often cause the rise of the other. So, even though some foods may trigger your IBS symptoms, it could be because of your intolerance. Allergies can sometimes also affect your digestive system, so you must know which food allergies you have so that you won’t trigger your IBS symptoms by consuming those allergy foods. You can purchase an Allergy and Intolerance Test kit that will help you check for all food allergies that you may have causing IBS symptoms. By eliminating such foods from your diet, you may not necessarily suffer from IBS but rather certain food intolerances and allergies. You can learn more about the benefits of food intolerance and allergy test for IBS.

 

Author

This blog is written by Kate Young, our Laboratory Manager with over 20 years of experience as a Clinical Bio Scientist and Embryologist. Explore our team page to learn more about her and the rest of the team.

 

References

  1. Makharia, A., Catassi, C., & Makharia, G. K. (2015). The overlap between irritable bowel syndrome and non-celiac gluten sensitivity: a clinical dilemma. Nutrients, 7(12), 10417-10426.