Many individuals suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and have a difficult time figuring out what meals to make to avoid triggering their disorder and treatments to help manage it. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a disorder that affects the large intestine. It’s a chronic, functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Don’t cover up your IBS with band-aid remedies. Instead, look for long-term solutions for your discomfort. Start at the source, the bacteria in your gut. Just like everything in life, your gut requires balance. In your gut, there’s a balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria. To improve gut health, supplements like probiotics are recommended. Probiotics, like Cypress Pharmacy’s Priobiotic Daily Support, are oral supplements of live, beneficial intestinal microorganisms for nutritional health and well-being. Bacteria colonize your gut, and if harmful microorganisms proliferate, the equilibrium is disturbed, and it becomes difficult for your natural bacteria to maintain territory over the space in your intestine. When you begin to take daily probiotics, you increase your chances of establishing and maintaining a healthy population of beneficial intestinal microorganisms. Once established, microflora creates acidic conditions that are unfavorable for the settlement of pathogenic microorganisms.
With the proper diet and exercise, you can often keep your IBS at bay without medication. It may seem like there aren’t a lot of meal options, but simply substituting what you already eat will create a considerable change in your digestion. Some who face this disorder follow the FODMAS diet. FODMAS means “fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols,” meaning undigested carbohydrates that, when metabolized, produce excess gas, leading to abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
Common foods to avoid or swap out:
- Lactose, found in milk and soft dairy products. Cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, and sour cream. Instead, try lactose-free milk, dairy-free ice cream, oat milk, rice milk or soy milk, lactose-free yogurt, and hard cheese like brie and camembert.
- Olive oil instead of butter
- Fruits containing high sugar fructose—examples: apples, pears, fruit juice, dried fruit, concentrated fruit. Try to avoid these. Fruits with low levels of sugar fructose that you can try include bananas, boysenberries, strawberries, cranberries, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwis, grapes, and cantaloupe.
- It’s important to eat your greens, but you may want to avoid cruciferous vegetables if you suffer from IBS. Some vegetables can cause gas, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, coleslaw, and sauerkraut.
- Food’s high in fat should be avoided since consuming greasy food will trigger the colon. As the food makes its way through the gut, the colon contracts, trapping gas and fecal matter, causing discomfort and bloating.
- Try going gluten-free if you can. Gluten and wheat can be difficult to process.
- As delicious as chocolate is, it can cause painful IBS triggers, so it’s best to avoid this candy, especially milk chocolate, as dairy is also triggering.
- Red meat is another IBS trigger. Due to its low water content and lack of fiber, red meats trigger contractions and spasms in the colon. Processed meats also contain additives and nitrates that irritate a sensitive gut. Meats like steak, ground beef, ham, roast beef, bacon, hot dogs are triggers for IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, nausea and constipation. Instead, try fish or poultry. It’s leaner and better tolerated.
- This next one’s probably a no-brainer; coffee. If you suffer from IBS, stay away from coffee. Caffeine acts as a natural laxative, whether that be the intent or not. If you have IBS and drink coffee, it may trigger symptoms like diarrhea.
- Coffee isn’t the only beverage to steer clear of. Watch out for carbonated drinks like soda as they often cause gas and bloating. Even tea can trigger your IBS!
- As much fun as happy hour is, take caution when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol can cause bowel movements to begin quicker than desired, and if it’s a soda-based cocktail, the carbonation can cause added symptoms. When it comes to beer, be careful, as gluten can also trigger any symptoms. Some better alternatives for happy hour or ladies’ night would be distilled alcohol like vodka, gin, whiskey, or scotch, as they would be less likely to trigger symptoms.
When symptoms become severe, please see your doctor. Look out for these symptoms:
Weight loss, diarrhea at night, rectal bleeding, iron deficiency anemia, unexplained vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and constant pain that isn’t relieved by passing gas or bowel movement.