A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Foods for IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestines and causes digestive tract issues, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Keeping a food journal, working with a registered dietitian, or using the FODMAP diet approach can help determine which foods are best for managing IBS symptoms.
Foods like lean meats, fatty fish, and eggs are generally considered safe for most individuals with IBS.
What is IBS?
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine.
The exact cause of IBS is currently unknown, but medical professionals generally agree that it is a result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
Common symptoms of IBS include:
How Do You Know Which Foods Are Right for You?
IBS can be challenging to manage, and many individuals have varying symptoms. This also means that there’s no single diet that works for every person.
One of the best ways to determine which foods are right for you is by keeping a journal.
A journal can help you track and identify foods that trigger IBS symptoms — these are the ones to eliminate from your diet. You will also see which foods are safe to eat.
You can also use the low FODMAP diet approach to help you manage IBS symptoms.
FODMAP is a list of foods that are good and bad for gut health. The list is divided into higher and lower-ranking foods.
Low-ranking food — like almond milk, lactose-free milk, and brown rice — are generally safe to eat.
Certain foods high on the FODMAP list — like fried foods, sugar, and milk — are common triggers for IBS flare-ups and should be avoided.
These usually include wheat, onions, garlic, beans, and certain fruits.
The 8 Best Foods for IBS
In this section, we’ll look at foods that are lower on the FODMAP list and are typically considered safe to eat for most individuals with IBS.
Lean protein is easier to digest than meat that is higher in fat. The enzymes that break down lean meat in the stomach also don’t ferment it, which reduces the risk of a gas build-up.
Here are some examples of lean meats:
- Lean cuts of beef and pork — like sirloin, filet, and top, eye, or bottom round
- White meat turkey
- White meat chicken
Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties, making this a good food option for individuals who struggle with IBS flare-ups.
The fatty acids can also help soothe the irritated stomach lining often associated with IBS.
Some fatty fish options include:
Eggs are a great source of protein for people with IBS because they are easy to digest and won’t trigger a flare-up.
It’s important to note that some people may be sensitive to the yolks, so it’s recommended to experiment and see what agrees with you.
These foods contain many natural strains of probiotics that can normalize gut flora, improve digestion, and regulate bowel movements.
Fermented foods may also help restore healthy bacteria lost through diarrhea — a common side-effect of IBS flare-ups.
A few examples of fermented foods that you can include in your diet are:
- Unsweetened yogurt
Nuts are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein that won’t cause inflammation in the gut.
It’s recommended to choose raw nut options instead of those that have been roasted, flavored, spiced, or sweetened to avoid an IBS flare-up.
Some examples of IBS-friendly nuts include:
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Nut butter
Although some fruits — like apples, mangoes, and watermelon — are high on the FODMAP list, some options are safer for people with IBS.
These fruits are lower in short-chain carbohydrates and won’t promote fermentation that can trigger symptoms of IBS. They include:
- Honeydew melon
Leafy greens are rich in nutrients that are unlikely to cause gut fermentation and gas.
Although it’s a good option to add these greens to smoothies, your body might react better if they are cooked. Some examples of leafy greens are:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
Similar to fruits, some cruciferous vegetables are high on the FODMAP list — like onions, asparagus, and brussels sprouts — and should be avoided because they can cause excessive gas.
You should also try to consume cooked vegetables as much as possible.
However, there are many other vegetable options that are gut-friendly, including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
Where Can You Learn More about IBS and Other Conditions?
If you’re struggling with creating an IBS-friendly diet or are concerned about any of your symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified physician or nurse practitioner from the comfort of your home.
Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment.