By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects more than 600,000 people in the U.S. While it may not be a comfortable subject to address, it’s even more uncomfortable for those who suffer from it every day! I know firsthand.
After suffering from IBS and migraines in my late teens and early 20s, I found ways to change my diet and lifestyle to heal my digestive system and prevent future IBS attacks. Not only was diet key in resolving my symptoms (which greatly interfered with my college lifestyle!) but eventually getting my sleep regulated and being in a long-term healthy relationship with my wonderful husband has helped to keep IBS at bay for over 10 years, even during pregnancy.
What is IBS?
IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder. Also known as “spastic colon” or “nervous colon”, IBS is considered a functional bowel disorder, meaning that the function of digestion is altered causing mid to lower intestinal bloating, constipation or diarrhea without any evidence of a structural or biochemical cause.
What are IBS symptoms?
IBS is often a “catch all” diagnosis when no formal cause of GI distress can be identified, such as a blockage, colitis, Crohn’s disease, cancer, etc. IBS symptoms vary from person to person and the solutions to help alleviate it are also different for each individual.
What causes IBS?
IBS is not only connected to diet but also stress and wellness in general.
What can you do to reduce IBS flare-ups?
Investigate which may apply to you by trying to modify your diet one item at a time. A Reboot is a great way to start since it can be a natural elimination diet.
1.) One of the best ways to reduce IBS flare-ups, especially if you suffer from constipation is eating a plant-based diet with plenty of fiber and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Stay well hydrated.
2.) Limit alcohol consumption.
3.) Avoid fatty foods and very large meals.
4.) Consistency is key. Eating fiber-rich plant foods, drinking water and following an eating and sleeping schedule are important for anyone trying to control their IBS.
5.) Be wary of certain foods, even some healthy ones! IBS-trigger foods can include fermentable carbohydrates and a new approach is thought to help up to 75% of sufferers. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols – which are a group of short-chain carbohydrates. Not everyone needs to avoid or limit all of these foods, but they are worth exploring to see if you can get some relief.
6.) Limit or avoid lactose (the sugar in dairy products).
7.) Limit high fructose foods especially processed sugary, packaged foods.
8.) Other potential offenders to try eliminating:
Onions, garlic, leeks
Artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol (in many sugar-free gums)
Apples, pears, mango, watermelon, prunes, peaches, plums
Broccoli, cabbage, beets, Brussels sprouts, radish
Soy foods and products
Commercial Juice (we don’t mean the kind out of your juicer)