Probably the first area to become concerned about if you are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome is how to change your diet to lessen your symptoms. Now that you know you have a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, you can’t eat absentmindedly.
Your healthcare practitioner most likely will have lots of good advice to start you off, but from there, you might find that it takes a lot of trial and error to determine which foods and beverages set off your symptoms and which don’t.
As you read up on various IBS diets, be sure you have pinpointed which kind of IBS you have. Is it diarrhea-predominant, constipation-predominant or a combination of these two conditions?
Here are a few general observations on IBS diets, courtesy of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group (IBSGroup.org):
-- Be cautious with fried and fatty foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as they all seem either to make you gassy or to overstimulate your gut.
-- See if ingesting sugar is a problem. The sugars lactose and fructose sometimes don’t get absorbed by the gut and then fall prey to bacteria that set off cramps, bloating and diarrhea. Fructose- or lactose-restricted diets, however, don’t show a great benefit toward reducing IBS symptoms, IBSGroup said on its website.
-- There are a number of foods that are commonly linked to above-average episodes of gas, bloating and abdominal pain among IBS sufferers. You might have to cut down on beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, peas, soybeans, onions and bagels, the IBSGroup site said.
-- The jury is still out on fiber in constipation-predominant IBS. It would seem that fiber would help with bowel movements and make you feel better, but too much fiber can worsen IBS symptoms, IBSGroup found in its research.
-- Ask your doctor or nutritionist about possible food allergies and food intolerances; they might be the actual culprits in your IBS-like symptoms.
The self-help group also suggests learning about the FODMAP diet, a name that comes from the acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.