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food to avoid with IBS

Understanding the types of food to avoid with IBS | Irritable bowel syndrome

IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a type of functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. This means it is not a condition that causes structural damage to the colon. In terms of cause, it is believed to be due to a faulty gut-brain connection that leads to changes in bowel functions.

It is a condition that affects one in five Australians at some point in their life. According to its prevalence across the global population, it affects 11% of adults, with 40% of those having an associated mental health challenge like depression or anxiety. This may explain the faulty gut-brain connection.

IBS ( Irritable bowel Syndrome) refers to a group of symptoms that occur together. These symptoms may be detected without any visible signs of damage or disease in the gut and include:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a long-term or chronic disorder. This means you may experience the symptoms of IBS from time to time. 

Most people with IBS manage their condition with diet, stress control, and medication. In this post, we look at what types of food you need to avoid if you have IBS.

Food to avoid

Food can trigger IBS symptoms and cause pain and discomfort. That’s why it’s useful to know what items to avoid if you are experiencing this condition. Low FODMAP diet has been shown to be effective in treating this. Low FODMAP diet is best commenced and managed by a dietitian experienced in this field. Please note that the follow are only a guide.

Insoluble fibre

Many people don’t understand the distinction between soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre dissolves in water easily, while the latter doesn’t. Soluble fibre slows down movement in the digestive tract, which can ease symptoms of diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea and constipation are both symptoms of IBS. According to medical research, soluble fibre is more effective in reducing symptoms of IBS compared to soluble fibre. Types of food with insoluble fibre that you may need to avoid include:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
Dairy products

Dairy products may be known for their role in maintaining a healthy weight and building your bones. These items also tend to be rich in fat, which can lead to diarrhoea for people with IBS. 

Regulating the amount of dairy in your diet can help, here. If dairy products trigger your IBS, you may benefit from eliminating it from your diet completely.

Types of dairy products that you may need to avoid include:

  • Milk
  • Cheese 
  • Butter
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice cream
Fried food

Fried food contains a lot of fat, which can trigger diarrhoea in people with IBS. 

Deep frying food can affect the chemical makeup and the nutritional composition of the food. This may make it more difficult to digest, which also triggers symptoms of IBS. You may benefit from grouping deep-fried food like french fries, doughnuts, deep-fried meat, and onion rings as food to avoid if you are experiencing this condition.

Caffeinated drinks

Caffeinated drinks may be part of a morning routine that supports digestive regularity. Caffeinated drinks also have a stimulating effect on the intestines that can cause diarrhoea for people with IBS. 

Types of caffeinated drinks (or food) that you may need to avoid include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Certain carbonated drinks
  • Certain types of chocolates
  • Baked food or sweets with caffeine

Sugar-free sweeteners

Sugar-free items are not necessarily healthy. Especially for people with IBS, sugar-free sweeteners can cause flare-ups. Types of food that contain sugar-free sweeteners include:

  • Sugarless candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Most diet drinks

Request more information on the types of food to avoid if you are experiencing IBS

Though the symptoms of IBS tend to be common across patients, the triggers may be specific and different for each person. Some people with IBS can tolerate certain types of food that others can’t.

It may be useful to maintain a food diary to figure out the types of food that cause you discomfort or trigger your symptoms. If you are confused about what types of food you can include in your diet, seeking the support of a digestive specialist is necessary.

Reach out to the multidisciplinary team of health professionals at the Sydney Gut Clinic to learn more about diet and nutrition for people living with IBS.

Please note that due to COVID-19, our clinic has revised its safety protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff.

Sydney Gut Clinic is currently operating at our regular hours. Kindly note that in light of the current pandemic, we are taking every precaution to prevent any chance of infection. Patients are screened before they enter the building and we space our appointments out to reduce the amount of people in the clinic at one time. Please note that telehealth service is available to patients that meet the government's criteria. Please call the rooms for more information.