Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent condition. It is a condition that affects your digestive system. It can cause symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and constipation. While the symptoms might come and go in some cases, it is a chronic condition if not handled properly for some people.
As someone who suffers from IBS, learning which foods to include and which to avoid plays an essential role in the quality of life.
The foods I am going to mention in the following section are the ones that could help or decrease the symptoms of someone with IBS. However, remember that your body might react differently when dealing with digestive issues.
This article lists the 10 best foods to include if you suffer from IBS.
Low FODMAP Diet
A low FODMAP diet is often recommended for people with IBS. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. They are carbs that your body cannot digest and go intact to your gut. The bacteria can use it to produce gas as a by-product (causing bloating).
Usually, you eliminate the high FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks. However, this elimination diet isn’t forever. After those 4-6 weeks, slowly start adding foods again in small portions, and always make sure you listen to your body and any symptoms that might arise.
This can help you identify which foods cause you harm and in which quantities.
Focusing on foods that are low in FODMAPs, plays a crucial role in treating patients with IBS. So, what are some foods that are low in FODMAP or that can aid in your digestion?
Best foods for IBS
Studies show that ginger can help alleviate your digestive issues. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it seems that it can help reduce stomach cramps and bloating and prevent indigestion.
Including some natural ginger in your water can help you increase your daily intake of ginger and add flavor to your water.
2. Lean meats
Protein doesn’t have any natural FODMAPs (unless you add condiments), meaning that it’s an excellent choice for you to add. Since your gut bacteria don’t ferment it, it won’t cause any symptoms of IBS.
However, when choosing your protein source, make sure it’s a lean cut. High-fat meat takes longer to digest and can increase inflammation in your body.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in your body. Eating 2-3 times per week can increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake. If you don’t like salmon, you can replace it with trout, cod, or tuna.
It’s an excellent protein option that can help you feel fuller for longer and help you maintain your muscle mass.
Nuts are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants (which help reduce inflammation). Having a good fiber intake can help your digestive tract and fight constipation.
However, some nuts are high in FODMAPs, meaning you need to control the portion size or avoid them.
You can consume Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts. Almonds and hazelnuts are limited to 10 a day.
If you have severe bloating issues, make sure to soak the nuts for 12-24 hours. This can make them easier to digest.
Seeds can also provide you with fiber to help fight constipation. Sources like chia seeds and flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body. However, like with nuts, make sure to soak them before consuming them.
You can also include other seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, which are always good to have as a snack.
6. Fermented foods
Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are natural sources of probiotics. These are the bacteria that are food for you. They can help you digest your food better, resulting in less bloating.
Remember that yogurt can have probiotics, but it also has lactose which worsens your symptoms.
7. Low FODMAP veggies
It’s very common to hear that the vegetables are the ones causing the symptoms. While this is somewhat true, some vegetables you can add to your diet if they are low in FODMAPs.
These include bamboo shoots, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, eggplant, fennel, green beans, parsley, parsnip, squash, tomato, turnips, zucchini, water chestnut, arugula, bok choi, kale, lettuce, baby spinach, cabbage, and swiss chard.
If you are still having a problem with these options, ensure you have them cooked. Raw vegetables are harder to digest.
8. Low FODMAP fruits
Like vegetables, there are some fruits you can consume, while there are others that it is better to avoid. Choosing a low FODMAP fruit can decrease the risk of developing gastrointestinal symptoms.
You can include banana (green), blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, mandarin oranges, orange, papaya, pineapple, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberry, and tangelo.
Healthy fats like nuts and seeds can help you reduce inflammation thanks to their omega-3 content. Another great source of healthy fat is avocados. However, even though they are an excellent option, you must have them in moderation.
Ensure you are not having more than 1/8 to ¼ of an avocado. Having more than this portion could increase the risk of developing gastrointestinal symptoms.
Finally, one of the best foods you can include is oatmeal. It is an excellent source of fiber that can help fight constipation. However, in some cases, it might be contaminated with gluten particles, causing symptoms for those sensitive to gluten.
If you are going to include oatmeal, make sure you get one certified gluten-free to ensure that it won’t be contaminated.
The bottom line
Choosing the right foods can help you manage your IBS symptoms (or it can worsen them). Each person has tolerance when it comes to food. Make sure you listen to your body and pay attention when you are having the symptoms.
I always recommend keeping a food journal as detailed as possible to help you find the foods causing you to have symptoms.