Digestive Health In the Press News Nutrition

Managing IBS Through Diet

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition which affects approximately 10%- 20%[1] of the UK population.  Symptoms can vary from person to person, and the severity can also vary. Even the ‘triggers’ for IBS can vary between people ranging from diet to stressful situations, or both.

Can food aggravate IBS symptoms?

For those people with IBS who find that what they eat makes their symptoms worse, they may consider a diet which excludes types of food known as Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs).  Some people negatively react to the digestion of these foods and may experience excess gas, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation and even diarrhoea.  FODMAP foods can be eaten by most of us without any digestive issues .

What is a low FODMAP diet?

Simply cutting these foods from your diet isn’t healthy as many FODMAP foods are rich in different nutrients. Many fruits and vegetables, and even dairy are considered FODMAPs so it’s easy to see why they shouldn’t just be cut out entirely. These foods are major sources of many macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Help with a low FODMAP diet

To maintain a balanced diet, it’s very important that you consider a low-FODMAP diet, with the guidance of a dietitian or other qualified nutrition professional. They can help identify which foods don’t affect you, and suggest alternatives for those which do, so that you are not depriving your body of essential nutrients. For example, some FODMAP foods, including grains and vegetables, contain prebiotic fibre which is very important for long term gut health. This fibre encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut and without it, the less desirable bacteria may become more dominant.

In fact, rather than excluding all types of fibre, dietary advice for IBS suffers has included a suggestion that a prebiotic supplement could be used in alleviating bloating, excess gas and abdominal pain. [2]

It’s important to realise that following a low-FODMAP diet is not the long-term solution for all IBS sufferers. Whilst it may help reduce your symptoms in the short term, you may not be helping your gut health in the long term.


[1] https://www.theibsnetwork.org/
[2] Alex Gazzola and Julie Thompson RD.  Low FODMAP and other diets.  IBS Dietary Advice to calm your gut. Sheldon Press