Foods to avoid with IBS

8 Food Items To Avoid In Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system. About 20 to 40% of all the visits to gastroenterologist are because of IBS. Globally, about 10 to 15% of the population suffer from IBS.  According to some studies, women under the age of 50 years are at higher risk of IBS than men.

IBS is described as a long-term gastrointestinal condition that causes abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.

An unhealthy diet is considered as the major culprit in IBS. Identifying and avoiding certain food or drinks that trigger IBS symptoms is a challenging task. No single list is available to know about the off-limit foods for IBS. Fortunately, the researchers have determined some common food items that make IBS more uncomfortable.

This article focuses on the food items that should be avoided in IBS.

FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) diet

  • FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrates present in onions, beans, peaches, nuts, wheat, and several foods. FODMAP does not cause IBS, but they draw water from the digestive system and increase the amount of fluid in the bowel.
  • This worsens symptoms of IBS, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Insoluble fibers

  • Fibers are of two types - insoluble fibers and soluble fibers.
  • Foods that are rich in insoluble fibers bulk up the stools and worsen diarrhea and bloating in IBS.

This includes the following foods:

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes

According to some studies, eating foods that contain soluble fibers in smaller quantities is a good option. Eating too much of fiber at once may worsen the IBS symptoms. The following are the common foods rich in soluble fibers:

  • Oatmeals
  • Barley
  • Root vegetables, such as carrots
  • Fruits, such as mangoes, oranges, berries, and grapefruit


  • It is a type of protein present in wheat, barley, oats, and other related species.
  • It is also present in a lot of food that we eat, such as bread, cereals, and other baked items.
  • Studies have shown certain evidence that eating gluten-containing foods worsen IBS symptoms.

Dairy products

  • Dairy products, such as cheese, butter, milk, and ice cream contain fats.
  • Foods that are high in fats cause the small intestine and colon to secrete more water and worsen diarrhea.
  • Switching to low-fat or non-fat milk and dairy products is the best way to prevent worsening of IBS.
  • Eating yogurt is also an excellent choice to maintain the natural balance of gut bacteria and reduce IBS symptoms.

Caffeinated drinks

  • Caffeinated foods, such as coffee, sodas, and other energy drinks stimulate intestine
  • It also acts as a laxative (substances that loosen the stools and promote bowel movement) and worsens diarrhea.
  • However, it may help in managing constipation.
  • So, eliminating or limiting the intake of caffeine is a good idea for people with IBS.

Fast foods and fried foods

  • Fast foods and fried foods both are rich in fats.
  • People with IBS are unable to absorb dietary fats.
  • This stimulates the intestine and aggravates diarrhea.
  • Instead of eating fast foods and fried foods focus on lean meats, fruits, and low-fat dairy products.

Artificial sweeteners

  • Artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are widely present in processed foods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, baked good, sugar-free chewing gums, jams, and jellies.
    • People with IBS already have disturbed gut microflora and consuming foods that contain artificial sweetener affects the good bacteria in the gut and worsens the symptoms of IBS.
    • So, quitting or limiting the intake of artificial sweetener is a good option.

Spicy seasonings

  • Spicy seasonings are the most common reason behind food-induced diarrhea.
  • Eating spicy food results in irritation and inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
  • This leads to gas, bloating, diarrhea, and worsens the existing condition. It also stimulates acid levels in the stomach and causes heartburn and indigestion.
  • Switching to bland foods and a large amount of liquids helps the body to cope up with diarrhea and other symptoms of IBS.

Food habits and diet play an important role in determining an appropriate pattern of eating that provides good control over the symptoms of IBS. Eliminating the foods mentioned above not only reduces the symptoms but also prevents further complications associated with IBS.

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