Irritable bowel syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a condition that affects digestion in a large percentage of the population. People who suffer with IBS commonly experience digestive upsets such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. While everyone gets these symptoms from time to time, people who have IBS experience them on an almost daily basis.
One of the best ways to eliminate IBS symptoms is to modify your diet. By choosing foods that are easy to digest, you can reduce the severity and frequency of your flare-ups. The key, however, lies in knowing which foods to choose.
Every person is different when it comes to IBS triggers. Some foods that irritate one person may be fine for another person. That’s why it is important to experiment and see which foods work best for your unique situation.
There are, however, some foods that have a better track record of being IBS-friendly than others. The following list outlines some of the best foods to eat if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
The human digestive system relies on beneficial bacteria to help break down food. Usually when you think of bacteria, you think of harmful bacteria that makes you sick or causes infection.
In this case, however, these beneficial bacteria actually work synergistically with your body, helping to break down fiber and other difficult-to-digest food particles, while at the same time releasing vital nutrients in a form your body can easily absorb.
Certain factors, such as taking large doses of antibiotics, stress or poor nutrition can upset the bacterial balance of your gut. When this happens, digestive symptoms like those common with IBS occur.
Restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract can help improve digestion, and reduce unwanted IBS symptoms. The easiest way to do this is by regularly consuming yogurt. Yogurt is loaded with beneficial bacteria, and can quickly help to restore healthy digestion.
Adding fiber to your diet can help bulk up your stools, which in turn can result in more consistent elimination habits.
However, not all fiber is created equal. Insoluble fiber like that found in most grains and legumes can actually worsen IBS symptoms in some people.
Soluble fiber, which can be found in fruits and vegetables, is easier for the body to process, resulting in fewer IBS symptoms.
When you first begin introducing fiber, it is important to start slowly. Consuming too much fiber right out of the gate can actually make things worse instead of better.
Try adding a small amount of fruits and vegetables each day, gradually increasing the portion sizes as your build up your tolerance.
Good foods to try include sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, oranges and spinach. When first introducing these foods, you may want to cook the vegetables to make them easier to digest.
Staying hydrated is absolutely essential for anyone who suffers with IBS. Adequate water intake helps improve digestion and keeps everything moving the way it should.
If you regularly suffer with constipation, water can add moisture to your stool, making it easier to pass. If, on the other hand, you are plagued with bouts of diarrhea, water will help replenish lost fluids.
Try to avoid flavored drinks or coffee. Instead, stick to plain water. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding a lemon wedge or a splash of cranberry juice to a cup of water to make it more palatable.
You may also be able to tolerate certain herbal teas, although care should be taken to avoid teas with a lot of spices, which can be irritating to the digestive tract.
Fish and Lean Meat
Protein sources such as fish, turkey and chicken are generally well-tolerated by people with IBS. Try to prepare these foods with as little added fat as possible, since high fat intake can trigger IBS symptoms.
For instance, rather than having fried chicken, opt for a baked chicken breast instead. Also, pay attention to the seasonings that you use on your meat. Certain spices and sauces can cause unwelcome symptoms. In general, you should stick with mild seasonings that add flavor without turning up the heat.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that has antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
When consumed, it can help kill off excess yeast or harmful bacteria within your digestive tract, without harming the so-called ‘good’ bacteria that is necessary for proper digestion.
Many people with IBS find that adding coconut oil to their diet helps improve their digestion. If you do decide to try coconut oil, be sure to introduce it slowly so your body has time to adjust.
One of the most effective ways to manage IBS symptoms is through diet. By making smart, well-informed choices regarding the foods you eat, you can reduce your symptoms and get back to feeling like yourself again.