Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Diet

What dietary changes have you made to manage your IBS? Which foods seem to make it worse?

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IBS Diet

It is unclear if diet has much effect on the symptoms of IBS. Nevertheless, patients often associate their symptoms with specific foods (such as salads, fats, etc.). Although specific foods might worsen IBS, it is clear that they are not the cause of IBS. The common placebo response in IBS also may explain the improvement of symptoms with the elimination of specific foods in some people.

Dietary fiber often is recommended for patients with IBS. Fiber probably is of benefit in IBS patients with constipation, but it does not reduce abdominal pain. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance often is blamed for diarrhea-predominant IBS, but it does not cause IBS. Because they both are common conditions, lactose intolerance and IBS may coexist. In this situation, restricting lactose will improve, but not eliminate the symptoms. Lactose intolerance is easily diagnosed by testing the effect of lactose (hydrogen breath testing) or trying a strict lactose elimination diet. Intolerance to sugars other than lactose, specifically, fructose, sucrose, and sorbitol, may cause symptoms that are similar to IBS or make IBS worse. It is unlikely, however, that these sugars cause IBS.

Return to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Izu21, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

The foods that usually make my symptoms worse are dairy products especially cheese in any form; also tomato sauce, beef and gravies.

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Comment from: mnigito, Female (Patient) Published: June 02

At age 64, I have been experiencing difficulties with my digestive tract for at least 25 years. I have undergone every test possible to determine any underlying factors as well as taking medications to calm the digestive tract. Finally, all the doctor concurred that it is IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea) that is causing my difficulties. Basically, it"s what I eat, when I eat, and how much I eat. A low gluten diet (almost gluten free), eating small meals, avoiding late night dinners (the hardest if you want to eat out), and limiting spicy and greasy foods to a real minimum, seem to have controlled my symptoms most of the time. It isn"t easy, but worth the effort.

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