IBS, short for irritable bowel syndrome, is a common ailment in which the large intestine cramps and otherwise gives you trouble. It can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and, conversely, constipation. Although it can be uncomfortable, rest easy knowing it doesn’t change bowel tissue or put you at higher risk for serious diseases like colon cancer. Doctors suspect the role of stress, gut microbiome changes, and, sometimes, severe gastrointestinal infection as some possible causes of IBS.
One of the best things you can do to prevent IBS flares is to avoid foods that are known to cause them Here are a few of the most common culprits:
1. Refined breads and cereals
Who can resist the bread basket before a meal at a restaurant? Or a great bowl of breakfast cereal first thing in the morning? If you suffer from IBS, the answer to that may need to be “you.” While everyone responds differently to IBS, and you should track your food intake and flare onsets to identify your personal triggers, refined breads and cereals are often cited among the culprits. Skipping refined foods has other benefits too, since they are broken down very quickly in the body and can lead to blood sugar spikes.
If you’re like the millions of people who can’t get going in the morning without it, you should know it might make your IBS worse. Coffee contains Salicylates, which some people are sensitive to. It can also speed up bowel function and increase the stress response, two things you don’t need if you’re struggling with IBS. If you’re suffering from a flare, best to cut out caffeine to see if that puts you on the road to recovery.
3. Dairy products
Some medical experts suggest up to seventy percent of adults around the world don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the lactose in milk. Improperly digested milk products are a common cause of IBS flares for many sufferers. It’s worth cutting out dairy to see if you get relief.
4. Processed snacks like chips
Besides packing in a lot of calories, processed snacks don’t hold much nutritional value. If that’s not enough reason to restrict these in your diet, there’s also this: processed foods that contain few whole ingredients are known to lead to IBS flares in some people.
5. Sugary desserts and cookies
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the thought of cutting out sugary desserts and cookies may seem overwhelming. But the evidence is in that, like processed snacks and breads, sugary desserts can also cause IBS flares. The good news is that after you reduce the number of desserts you consume, you learn to enjoy smaller portions of them, and even start to get the same joy from healthier alternatives. So if you’re looking to reduce your suffering from IBS, you may want to cut out dessert to see if you get relief.
IBS can feel overwhelming, interfering with your ability to be social. It can be painful and unpredictable. Managing it can sometimes feel overwhelming. But IBS is also your body sending you signals of what it needs. Cutting out known trigger foods may put you on a path to learning to cope with it while feeding your body whole foods that put you on the path to keeping IBS under control.