Changing your diet may be the most obvious thing to do when you have IBS. But what diet is good for IBS?
Elimination, low FODMAP, gluten free, sugar free, I am sure you have tried it all! In this article I will explain which diet is best when it comes to managing IBS symptoms.
Is a High Fibre Diet Good For IBS?
You may have been told to go on a high fibre diet by your doctor. But did you find this worsened your symptoms?
A low fibre intake was initially thought to the cause of IBS (1). And, it is still recommend for those with IBS-C (2).
But we now know that telling everyone to just increase their fibre could actually cause some people to aggravate their symptoms (2). So, what are you supposed to do?
Well, we know the general population need 30g of fibre each day. But, there are no specific guidelines for IBS.
Instead, I recommend that you increase your fibre slowly and stop if your symptoms worsen. You should trial fibre from low FODMAP foods.
If you have IBS-C, then fibre supplements such as psyllium and flaxseed can also help (3).
A Wheat Free Diet For IBS?
Wheat is one of the first foods that is blamed for IBS symptoms. It is likely that you may find wheat causes your problems.
But you may be surprised to find that wheat itself is not actually the problem.
To date there is only one strong scientific study that investigated the effect of wheat among patients with IBS (4).
In this large study, 276 out of 920 (30%) patients with IBS were identified as being sensitive to wheat.
They were randomly assigned to receive either capsules of wheat or a placebo (no wheat/inactive sugar capsule. Each patient received the capsules of wheat or placebo at some point during the study.
Patients had increased symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in stool consistent when they received capsules of wheat.
Before you go making conclusions about this research, wait a minute! What does wheat also contain? It contains FODMAPs.
So there is no way of saying whether it is the wheat or the FODMAPs contained within the wheat.
It is more likely to be the FODMAPs. This means that you will have a tolerance level and going completely wheat free is not needed.
Will a Gluten Free Diet Good For IBS?
Have you been attempting to go on a gluten free diet to manage your IBS symptoms? Again, gluten is one of the first things you may have thought about when looking at ways to manage your IBS.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Some people with IBS report that their symptoms improve on a gluten free diet despite not having Celiac Disease (1).
Yet, the role of gluten in the management of IBS is unclear (1). It is unclear because wheat, barley, and rye are all high FODMAP foods (1).
Gluten Free diets are more expensive to follow (3). And there isn’t robust scientific evidence that indicates a gluten free diet will improve your IBS symptoms.
Based on all of this, I would not recommend that you follow a gluten free diet.
The low FODMAP Diet for IBS Control
The low FODMAP diet is another diet which is famous for controlling IBS.
You will likely have been told about this diet from your doctor. But, you may be a little confused as to how to start to do it properly.
The low FODMAP diet is a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates.
The diet comes in the form of 3 parts;
Why the low FODMAP diet? Research has indicated that up to 2/3 of individuals with IBS will have improved symptoms on the low FODMAP diet (1).
This diet has been studied in depth unlike other diet claims. There are multiple studies proving the benefits that this diet has to offer (5).
The only proven diet to work for IBS is the low FODMAP diet. Other diets have not yet been proven and I would therefore advise against them.
What have you tried to improve your IBS symptoms?
Let us know in the comments below.
- El-Salhy, Magdy, and Doris Gundersen. “Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Nutrition Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0022-3.
- Cozma-Petruţ, Anamaria, et al. “Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: What to Recommend, Not What to Forbid to Patients!” World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 23, no. 21, 2017, p. 3771., doi:10.3748/wjg.v23.i21.3771.
- Rej, Anupam. “Clinical Application of Dietary Therapies in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, vol. 27, no. 3, 2018, doi:10.15403/jgld.2014.1121.273.avy.