Can IBS Be Managed with a Diet?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder that can cause stomach pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, among other symptoms. It’s a common condition that can strike at any age. Fortunately, IBS is manageable through diet and lifestyle changes.

Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Vikram S. Jayanty possesses decades of experience diagnosing and treating a full range of digestive system conditions, including IBS. When it comes to managing IBS with diet, he doesn’t recommend one specific meal plan.

Instead, he suggests you make dietary changes that involve determining and avoiding trigger foods. You can create a diet that works for you once you understand how different foods affect your gut.

What is IBS, and what are the symptoms?

IBS is a digestive disorder that affects the entire body. IBS can cause:

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Excessive gas

When constipation is the predominant symptom, it’s classified as IBS-C, while it’s classified as IBS-D when diarrhea is the predominant symptom. Some people experienced a mix of constipation and diarrhea, and this is classified as IBS-M.

IBS symptoms tend to differ from person to person. Some people may only have a couple of mild symptoms, while others may have several moderate-to-severe symptoms.

These symptoms can have a significant impact on your overall well-being, making it difficult to go about your daily activities. It can also be extremely uncomfortable. If you have any of the symptoms of IBS, you should see a gastroenterologist for an evaluation.

Identifying trigger foods

If you have IBS, one of the most important things you can do is figure out which foods trigger your symptoms. This can be accomplished by keeping a food diary and tracking everything you eat and drink, as well as any symptoms you experience.

Other dietary changes, in addition to avoiding triggering foods, can help manage IBS symptoms.

Reducing FODMAPs in the diet

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. It refers to a type of small chain carbohydrate made up of fructose and sucrose, both of which are difficult-to-absorb sugars. FODMAPs are responsible for the bloated, gassy feeling beans and legumes typically produce.

As they ferment, these carbohydrates draw excess water into your colon, similar to a water balloon, and produce a large amount of gas. Bloating, gas, pain, constipation, and diarrhea can occur if water and gas build up in your large intestine.

Limiting FODMAPs that your body doesn’t tolerate well provides significant relief from IBS symptoms. Examples of foods high in FODMAPs include apples, mangoes, dairy foods, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.

A low FODMAP diet can be difficult to follow on your own. Always work with a qualified health care provider to develop a manageable plan for eliminating and reintroducing the foods in question to your eating plan for the best results.

The advantages of a high-fiber diet for IBS patients

Many patients with IBS benefit from a high-fiber diet. Constipation, a common symptom of IBS, can be relieved by increasing your fiber intake. Fiber can also help regulate bowel movements and reduce diarrhea. A high-fiber diet can benefit your overall health in addition to relieving symptoms.

Fiber is essential for weight management and can lower your risk of developing heart disease and other chronic health conditions. If you have IBS, consider increasing your intake of high-fiber foods.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes, in addition to dietary changes, can help manage IBS symptoms. Because stress is a common cause of IBS symptoms, finding ways to reduce stress can be beneficial. Stress-busting activities like exercise, yoga, and meditation are helpful. Getting enough sleep is also essential for controlling IBS symptoms. Making these lifestyle changes as part of a healthy routine can help you manage your IBS symptoms and live a healthy life.

Managing acute symptoms

Dr. Jayanty will go over a plan to manage your symptoms when they strike. Medication to reduce diarrhea, relieve constipation, ease abdominal pain, and soothe bloating is available. Many patients carry a rescue bag to work, social outings, and when they travel. This way you have what you need available in the event that symptoms come on suddenly. IBS is unpredictable. Being prepared is key to managing it.

We’re here to help you take back control of your life from IBS symptoms. For a comprehensive evaluation, give our team a call at our Houston, Texas, office to schedule a visit with Dr. Jayanty.

Our Location