Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Identifying Food Triggers

The wisest thing a patient suffering from IBS symptoms can do is keep a food diary. In it, have a column for foods and one for symptoms. Don’t document issues until prior to the next meal. Learn to avoid any potential food triggers by performing an elimination diet, pulling the foods in question from intake for two weeks. If the food is a trigger, bowel symptoms should lessen in about 10-12 days. At the end of two weeks, add the potential trigger back to the diet. If symptoms return, that food is a problem and should be avoided until symptoms have cleared.

Read labels and try to eat foods that are not processed. Avoid high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. These ingredients can exceed the body’s natural digestive abilities. Target at least six servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if constipation is an issue.

Stress can affect the bowels by limiting the body’s natural digestive output and affecting its overall function. Anxiety is known to aggravate IBS. Review the articles on stress reduction to minimize this contributor.

Supplements to consider with IBS:

  • Probiotics are good bacteria that boost the immune system within the gastrointestinal tract, keeping bowel walls healthy. They should be considered for loose bowels or for patients with a history of frequent antibiotic use.
  • Digestive enzymes can be taken at mealtime to assist the body’s breakdown of food. Clues of poor digestion due to insufficient production of enzymes by the body include excessive gas and loose bowels or bloating right after meals. Food that is not broken down can act as a source for potential bad bacteria in the bowels. Try one digestive enzyme capsule, with meals. If symptoms don’t completely resolve, try two capsules, with food. Digestive enzymes should not be taken by patients with stomach or bowel ulcers.
  • Peppermint oil capsules are recommended for those suffering from pain and spasms. They work by relaxing the smooth muscle of the colon, usually the cause of this pain, and should be taken with meals.

Could these symptoms be from allergies?

Allergy testing is often negative in patients suffering from IBS. Despite these results, certain foods are clear triggers for people. The cause may be allergy related or simply intolerance. Current testing can confirm a case of celiac disease, a genetic inability to digest gluten, causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and problems with absorption.

Can certain fruits or vegetables be trigger foods?

Absolutely. This further emphasizes the importance of keeping a food diary and practicing an elimination diet of all foods you suspect as IBS triggers.

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