Irritable Bowel Syndrome – also known as IBS – is a common chronic disorder that affects as much as 20% of the Canadian population.
While the cause of IBS is unknown, it’s suspected to be the result of a combination of several different factors, including a disruption in communication between the brain and the body’s gastrointestinal tract, as well as abnormalities within the GI tract itself.
Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome can experience profuse discomfort, which can include some or all of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain and cramping that comes and goes
- Pain and cramping that is described as a persisting, dull ache
- An urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits
- Mucus in the stool
- Excessive gas
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may cause a disruption to one’s routine, such as their ability to work, go to school, or attend social functions.
While there is no specific cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), individuals with this condition can manage their symptoms by modifying their lifestyle.
The most important change that people with IBS need to consider making starts with their diet, as certain foods can make the aforementioned symptoms worse.
Foods to Avoid
Foods that someone with IBS or suspected IBS should avoid include:
- Breads and cereals that are made with refined grains
- Processed foods (such as cookies and potato chips)
- Fried and fatty foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Dairy products (such as milk and cheese)
- Foods that are high in protein, wheat, and foods containing insoluble fibre (often found in the skin of fruits and vegetables),
- Vegetables like beans, broccoli and cauliflower, as they can be difficult to digest and cause gas and bloating.
People with IBS should also avoid eating large meals, and instead opt for eating smaller, more frequent meals as this can help to reduce abdominal cramping and prevent diarrhea. For those who suffer from IBS-related diarrhea, you should try introducing more soluble fiber into your diet. Good sources of soluble fiber include whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, oats, barley, peeled fruits, and vegetables, as well as dried fruit.
If you suffer from IBS-related constipation, you may need to gradually increase your fiber intake by 2 to 3 grams each day (until you’re up to 25 to 38 grams), as well as drink plenty of water each day.