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What are the Best Diets for IBS Sufferers?

So what are you doing for IBS Awareness Month this April? Here’s an event that has helped raise research funds and promote awareness for this chronic gastrointestinal disorder. One of it’s primary goals is to get more people to talk about irritable bowel syndrome as it goes undiagnosed far too often.

For those living with this condition, their diet will have a very significant impact on their health and symptoms. We’ve done some research and these are the best diets for people who have been diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome. Following more strict dietary guidelines can significantly improve your quality of life with IBS.

Oatmeal can be a great source of fiber in the morning

Are you getting enough fiber in your diet? 

1) The High Fiber Diet

If you didn’t already know, fiber adds more bulk to your stool and aids in regular bowel movements. National guidelines state that adults should be getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. It may not sound like much, but nutritionists say that most people don’t get more than 15 grams per day.

So what’s the best way to add more fiber in your diet? Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great for relieving constipation and similar symptoms. You may need to nix the whole grains if eating more fiber causes bloating problems. Fiber from fruits and veggies is soluble, so you should be good there.

2) Low Fiber Diet

IBS truly is a complex syndrome– meaning that there is no single dietary plan that will work for everyone. A high fiber diet could significantly exacerbate your condition if you’ve struggled with diarrhea and gas. As mentioned before, soluble sources of fiber can be great if that’s the case.

What’s the difference between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber? Soluble fiber will dissolve in water as opposed to insoluble fiber which will add extra bulk to stool.

Soluble fiber can be found in produce items, such as:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Oatmeal

Insoluble fiber can be found in:

  • Whole grains
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Raisins

There are also supplemental medications like anti-diarrheals which you can take 30 minutes before eating a high-fiber meal. It’s a good method to keep in mind when on vacation or just going out to eat. Please note that this is not something you want to become dependent on.

Fast food can really exacerbate IBS symptoms

How hard is it to be gluten free?

3) The Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten has become a buzzword in the diet and health industry nowadays. It’s actually a specific protein which is found in grain products. Unfortunately, this protein can inflict damage on the GI tract of people who are gluten-intolerant. Clinical research has shown that there are a significant number of IBS patients who have this intolerance. These people could benefit from from a gluten-free diet.

Here are some foods that you want to avoid when starting out:

  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Durum flour
  • Graham flour

These are some foods that you’ll want to avoid unless labeled “gluten-free”:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • French fries
  • Pastas

Luckily, a gluten-free diet is not as restrictive as it once was. There are now gluten-free versions of many of your favorite foods. If you want some more information on removing your gluten from your diet, check out the Gluten Intolerance Group’s website.

4) The Elimination Diet

No matter what dietary plan you end up with, the elimination diet is a good place to start. It involves systematically removing specific foods from your regular diet and monitoring the effect that it has on your IBS symptoms. It’s one of the best ways to identify your personal trigger foods.

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) recommends starting with these four culprits:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Insoluble fiber
  • Nuts

An elimination diet isn’t complex, but it takes serious discipline. Remove one food item from your diet for 12 weeks and record any effects it has on your irritable bowel syndrome. Then you’ll move on to the next food item.

5) The Low Fat Diet

Woman suffers severe IBS cramps and bloatingWe’ve covered it in many of our high cholesterol posts, but high-fat foods can lead to significant health issues. If you live with IBS, you really need to be careful about high-fat foods. On top of that, these foods tend to low in fiber. Patients suffering from alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea (mixed IBS) should can be very sensitive to high-fat diets.

Lowering your fat content is good for your bowels and your heart. A good low-fat diet should focus on lean meats, fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy products.

Remember, this is by no means a comprehensive list. What helps treat your IBS symptoms often exacerbates some elses. You could find a meal plan not on this list that works best for your disorder. In addition to tweaking and managing your diet, IBS sufferers need to stay hydrated and get regular exercise.

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