Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Because irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects the digestive system, diet plays a critical role in reducing and controlling the symptoms of the condition. A chronic condition, irritable bowel syndrome causes diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Causes are unknown, and there is no cure.

There is no one particular diet that will help every person with irritable bowel syndrome. The first step in creating an individualised plan is to keep a food diary, identifying potential symptom triggers. Trigger foods should then be avoided.

Fibre plays an important role in the diet for irritable bowel syndrome, but its role is different for each person. Some people will need to reduce consumption of insoluble fibre in the form of whole grains, such as brown rice, wholemeal breads, and cereals. Other people will need to increase the amount of fibre, including soluble fibre, by taking a fibre supplement and/or eating particular foods, such as oats.

Restricting certain foods and drinks does seem to help with IBS symptoms. Tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks should be avoided or limited. Processed foods with resistant starch also should be avoided, and fruit intake should be limited to three servings per day, according to the National Health Service (NHS). The artificial sweetener sorbitol should be eliminated from the diet if diarrhoea is a primary symptom. Wind and bloating may be reduced by eating more oats as well as adding linseeds to the diet.

The addition of probiotics may provide much relief for people with IBS. Probiotics are supplements containing friendly bacteria.