12 Foods to Avoid If You Have IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) represents a collection of intestinal disorders. And each unique type of IBS results in extended inflammation within the digestive tract, causing pain, discomfort, and difficulty in its sufferers.
IBS is quite common – the condition affects 25 to 45 million people throughout the United States. Living with IBS means you have to watch what you eat, as the smallest changes in your diet could leave you with uncomfortable or unexpected symptoms.
Fortunately, however, avoiding certain foods can alleviate your symptoms and help you live more comfortably with IBS. If you’re looking for ways to better manage IBS, the following are 12 foods you’ll want to avoid.
1. Insoluble Fiber
While fiber is a great addition to your diet in any case, it can be problematic if you’re living with IBS. Certain types of fiber – like insoluble fiber in particular – can cause or enhance diarrhea.
Why does insoluble fiber cause these? This type of fiber doesn’t dissolve in gastrointestinal fluid and remains unchanged as it travels throughout the digestive tract.
If you’re avoiding insoluble fiber, you’ll want to cut nuts, wheat bran, green beans, and potatoes out of your diet.
Gluten is a problematic food for many digestive disorders. It’s a protein that’s found within grains such as rye, barley, and wheat. While it’s often linked to the autoimmune condition celiac disease, gluten can also create diarrhea symptoms for those who suffer from IBS.
The silver lining to all this is that thanks to an increase in public awareness, it’s now easier than ever to avoid gluten. Many food manufacturers and restaurant chains offer a plethora of gluten-free options to customers now, from pizza to cake to bread, and more.
Why do IBS sufferers need to stay clear of dairy? Well, dairy products have fat within it, which enhances diarrhea symptoms. Secondly, many who have IBS also happen to be lactose intolerant.
Cutting dairy out of your diet can alleviate both IBS and lactose intolerance issues and symptoms. Fortunately, it’s easy to do this – there are many low-fat and non-fat, or even lactose-free, dairy items available that you can substitute regular dairy with.
4. Fried Foods
Fried foods aren’t exactly a good addition to anyone’s diet, but they can be particularly problematic for anyone with IBS. The high fat content in any type of fried food makes it hard for those with IBS, as these types of foods are challenging to digest.
Instead of opting for fried foods like french fries and chicken tenders, which could leave you bloated and cramping, choose healthier options with no breading and no frying involved in the cooking process. Grilling or baking are excellent – and healthier – cooking options.
5. Caffeinated Drinks
Who doesn’t love a nice cup of java first thing in the morning? While caffeinated beverages like hot coffee and warm black tea might be a great way to wake up, they’re terrible for IBS sufferers.
Sadly, those with IBS need to refrain from coffee and other caffeinated drinks because they create a stimulating effect on the intestines. And all that stimulation may bring on diarrhea. Coffee, energy drinks, and soft drinks are massive triggers for those with IBS, so they’re best avoided altogether.
6. Processed Foods
Processed foods have preservatives and additives that can jumpstart IBS symptoms. Highly processed foods are less natural than many foods, and they often feature unnatural ingredients that may wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Additionally, some processed foods are extra problematic. These foods are often high in fat or fried – two other big triggers for IBS. You’ll be better off if you steer clear of these foods if you’re worried about aggravating your condition and its symptoms.
7. Sugar-Free Sweeteners
While anything sugar-free may seem like a healthier option, this isn’t always the case. In fact, some sugar-free foods can cause greater digestive stress.
Also referred to as sugar alcohols, sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners can be found in diet drinks, gum, some mouthwashes, and sugarless candy. The ingredients within these products – such as aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium – are difficult for the body to absorb, especially those with IBS.
Sadly, due to its caffeine and high sugar content, those with IBS need to avoid chocolate. As delicious as this sweet treat is, it features some of the absolute worst ingredients for IBS sufferers. Like caffeinated drinks and sugary foods, chocolate simply can’t be easily digested – and it may overstimulate your digestive tract.
There are vegan chocolate options available today, which may be a better choice that’s a little more tolerable than the real thing. You can also try different varieties of chocolate that feature less cocoa and caffeine, but it’s best avoided altogether.
Those with IBS need to avoid alcohol. Alcohol aggravates many parts of the body, but it’s particularly bad for IBS sufferers due to the way the body digests it. Alcohol is dehydrating, which affects both your digestion and liver function.
Additionally, beer contains gluten, and mixed drinks and wine often have sugar. These are already two problematic ingredients for IBS sufferers. For those who would like to occasionally indulge, there are gluten-free beer options as well as mixed drinks that have no sugar or artificial sweeteners.
10. Cauliflower and Broccoli
While broccoli and cauliflower are considered superfoods that are packed with beneficial nutrients, they’re super healthy. But unfortunately, these are two veggies anyone with IBS will want to avoid.
Both cauliflower and broccoli are incredibly difficult for the body to digest. When the intestines break broccoli and cauliflower down, it can cause gas and constipation, even for those who don’t have IBS. These cruciferous vegetables are especially difficult to digest if they’re eaten raw.
11. Onions and Garlic
While both onions and garlic can add a ton of flavor to any meal, they can also be hard to digest. And if you have IBS, eating these two foods can cause painful cramping and gas, especially when they’re eaten.
Even the cooked versions can be challenging for some individuals with IBS. They’re acidic in nature, which can leave you with a struggling, aggravated digestive system.
Beans are an amazing source of fiber and protein. However, they’re also a huge trigger for IBS symptoms. Beans can enhance bloating, cramps, and gas, making them a food that most IBS sufferers place on their “must avoid” list.
Try to avoid all varieties of beans to prevent these painful, uncomfortable symptoms. You can ignore beans and focus instead on meat of any kind, which will be loaded with just as much protein for your nutritional needs.
Live More Comfortably with IBS
It’s vital to note that while the above foods are all recommended items to avoid, some people with IBS are still able to tolerate certain foods on the list. However, some simply won’t ever be able to.
The key to managing IBS and living life as normally and comfortably as possible is to keep track of the foods you consume that make you feel good. And you should try to avoid and limit any foods your body reacts to by keeping a journal. You can also reach out to your doctor for additional guidance, or even a dietician or nutritionist.