Avoid foods that can trigger IBS symptoms
Dr. Anthony Komaroff www.AskDoctorK.com October 17, 2012 5:34PM
Copyright 2002 President and Fellows of Harvard College on behalf of HMS Media Services, Photo by Liza Green, HMS Media Services, Anthony Leader Komaroff, MD, Harvard Health Publications
Updated: November 19, 2012 2:04PM
Dear Doctor K: I recently heard about a new diet to manage IBS. Can you tell me about it?
Dear Reader: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder. Symptoms include cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
A common treatment approach is to avoid foods that trigger symptoms. A new diet for IBS targets and eliminates certain types of carbohydrates the small intestine has trouble absorbing. We’ll call it the “IBS diet,” even though its official name is the “low FODMAP diet.”
Research suggests that the carbohydrates excluded from the IBS diet increase the amount of fluid in the bowel and create more gas. This leads to bloating and changes the speed at which food is digested. The result is gas, pain and diarrhea.
To follow the IBS diet, eat less of these foods:
Dairy: cow’s milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese
Fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, cherries, mangoes and watermelon
Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions and snow peas
Grains: wheat and rye
Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy products
High-fructose corn syrup
Sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar; sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt found in sugar-free gum and mints
Eat more of these foods:
Dairy: lactose-free milk; rice, almond and coconut milk; lactose-free yogurt; hard cheeses
Fruit: bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges and strawberries
Vegetables: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potatoes, spring onions and turnips
Protein: beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu
Nuts/seeds: almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts and walnuts
Grains: oat, oat bran, rice bran, gluten-free pasta, white rice, corn flour and quinoa
My advice is to limit only those foods that are problematic for you. You can determine which ones to avoid by eliminating all foods from the “eat less” list from your diet. Then reintroduce one food at a time, noting whether it worsens your symptoms. If not, add it back to your diet.
We have more information on IBS in our Special Health Report, “The Sensitive Gut.” (Learn more about this report at AskDoctorK.com, or call 877-649-9457 toll-free to order it.)
Write to Dr. Komaroff at www.AskDoctorK.com