Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is frustrating, especially when it comes to mealtimes. You often can't enjoy your meal because you’re so worried about whether your food choices will trigger an episode of bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea or constipation.
You're not alone. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of people have IBS, which is twice as common in women, and it often goes undiagnosed. (Learn the 5 Signs You May Have IBS.) While the exact cause unknown, it's clear that multiple factors – including the foods you eat – play a role in exacerbating symptoms.
Get to know your body. Record your food intake and symptoms for one week. Record when and how much you ate and drank. At the same time, record your gastrointestinal symptoms. Noting the onset, reaction and severity of the symptoms will you identify the "trigger" food that may not be kind to your gut.
Everybody responds to foods differently. A food that triggers an IBS attack in you may not be an issue for someone else. Figuring out what's "safe" for you to eat and what to avoid is often a case of trial and error.
But there are some foods that are easier to digest – and others that are more likely to aggravate an already sensitive digestive system.
These foods commonly spark a cascade of symptoms for people with irritable bowel syndrome:
Some people who have irritable bowel syndrome symptoms still do not feel well despite trying the basic ideas above. Luckily, researchers in last few years have determined a more specific diet therapy that has been helpful to those who require a more rigorous approach to get the response desired. Because of the complexity, it is best to enlist the help of a registered dietitian to implement the FODMAP diet.
Doctors frequently recommend the low FODMAP diet for those with IBS. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols, specific types of carbohydrates that are more difficult for some people to absorb.
FODMAPs may lead to increased gas formation. Research indicates that following a low FODMAP diet reduces abdominal pain and bloating for the majority of people with IBS.
IBS treatment focuses on addressing symptoms. In addition to diet changes, other lifestyle factors like stress and sleep quality can also affect the disorder. The good news is that you can often manage IBS through lifestyle adjustments.
A gastroenterologist, a doctor that specializes in the digestive system, can help determine what factors have the most significant impact on your gut health and the treatments that will help you feel better. Improve your quality of life by finding a doctor today.
By Robbie Schneider
Social Media Manager