Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a disorder involving the intestines. IBS results in stomach pain, cramping and/or bloating, and either constipation or diarrhea.
IBS is a long-term condition, but there are a few things you can do in order to reduce your symptoms.
Your symptoms may be worse one day and better others, but IBS will not get progressively worse over time. Also, it is important to note that IBS does not cause more serious diseases such as cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
Causes of IBS
The causes for IBS aren’t clear- they are different for different people. IBS could be caused by problems related with the way that signals are sent between the digestive tract and the brain, problems with digesting specific foods, and stress/anxiety.
Individuals with IBS could have unusually sensitive intestines or problems with the way the muscles in the intestines move.
For some individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, hormonal changes, stress, specific foods, and even some antibiotics could trigger pain and other symptoms of IBS.
Symptoms of IBS
The main symptoms of IBS are pain in the stomach with diarrhea or constipation. Other common symptoms of IBS include mucus in the stool, bloating, and a feeling that you were unable to completely empty your bowels.
Common Foods that Trigger IBS
It has been said that specific foods can trigger the signs and symptoms of IBS. Following are a few of the common foods that trigger an episode of IBS.
However, keep in mind that everyone has different triggers for their IBS, so it’s best if you keep a food diary to pinpoint your specific trigger foods.
Foods High in Insoluble Fiber
Some individuals are sensitive to foods that are extremely high in insoluble fiber. More specifically, they tend to show sensitivity to wheat bran, high-fiber breads/breakfast cereals, and even whole wheat pasta.
Others are very sensitive and react to even moderate amounts of insoluble fiber such as crackers and whole grain breads, popcorn, quinoa, wheat germ, millet, bulgur, whole nuts and seeds, and amaranth.
All raw veggies are prime suspects when it comes to trying to figure out which foods are causing your IBS symptoms.
Additionally, cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can be especially problematic and can cause problems even after being cooked.
Some individuals have problems digesting compounds in wheat and wheat flour- which are not related to insoluble fiber.
These foods contain a protein called gluten- which can also trigger symptoms of celiac disease- and can cause digestion problems for some.
Common foods containing gluten include white and whole wheat breads, pastas, baked goods, cereals, and crackers.
Lentils and Beans
Beans are referred to as the “musical fruit” in the children’s rhyme. However, if you deal with IBS, you may not be laughing so much after eating them. This goes for lentils as well.
These foods can be quite difficult for individuals with IBS to digest and can cause bloating, gas, cramping, and even diarrhea.
Sugar and spice are not all nice- especially when it comes to IBS. Many sweeteners, whether it’s a concentrated fructose (sugar, fruit juice, dried fruits, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and honey) or a sugar alcohol such as mannitol, malitol, or sorbitol can trigger your symptoms of IBS.
Be very careful when you’re chewing gum, eating candy, or munching on other sweet treats/sipping on sweet beverages that have these sweeteners.
You should also avoid fresh fruits that are naturally high in sorbitol such as pears, apples, peaches, apricots, prunes, plums, nectarines, and cherries.
So, can you eat dried fruit with IBS? That depends on whether or not it is a trigger for you. It is one of those things that have a high concentrated fructose content- so you’ll just have to keep a food diary to figure out if it is one of your triggers.
Controlling the Symptoms of IBS
The signs and symptoms of IBS are bothersome and can be somewhat embarrassing, and ultimately interfere with your daily life, making you extremely uncomfortable.
However, the good news is that there are some lifestyle changes you can make to control your symptoms, which makes it possible for you to find relief and therefore regain control of your own life.
First of all, lessen stress. Many who are dealing with IBS have symptom flare ups in extremely stressful times of their lives.
Getting the right amount of sleep, exercise, and meditation can help you learn to relax and therefore decrease some of the signs and symptoms of IBS.
Slowly add fiber to your diet. Veggies, whole grains, fruits, and even beans can be quite effective in helping to relieve constipation. If these are some of your trigger foods, you will want to consider using a fiber supplement instead.
You should be drinking lots of water. It is recommended that you drink six to eight glasses of water each day to help keep you hydrated even when you are experiencing diarrhea. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can actually aggravate your symptoms.
In order to minimize the amount of air you’re swallowing, you should avoid drinking through straws and/or chewing gum.
More Tips for Controlling IBS Symptoms
If you’re dealing with IBS, you should really direct your focus to your dietary habits. If you’re not feeling well, figure out what you’re doing because it’s apparently not working for you.
Consider making some changes. Treatment of IBS is within reach, if you’ll just be willing to make a few simple, but important changes.
You must figure out which foods are your trigger foods. Think about the unhealthy foods you consume and avoid these. Also, food allergies can cause IBS symptoms to flare up.
If possible, go on an all organic diet. You may also want to consider going on a gluten-free diet in order to kick off your healing process.
You should also consider that there are most likely some other factors that are contributing to your IBS.