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Dietary Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A fiber-rich diet can help regulate digestion and bowel movement regularity in many people, but for those who suffer from IBS it can have a negative effect.

IBS can be triggered in different ways, including meal size, hydration levels, and the kind of fiber eaten. Gradually increasing fiber intake and water consumption, along with fiber supplementation, could relieve constipation that accompanies IBS.

Dietary Treatment for Irritable Bowel SyndromeCause of IBS

IBS is a bowel disorder identified by an irregular bowel movement schedule, pain in the abdomen, heavy gas, and possibly bloating. Muscular spasms could cause diarrhea or even constipation. Constipation-predominant IBS is characterized by hardened, dry stool that pass with difficulty. Increasing fiber in the diet, which can stimulate peristalsis, can restore regular bowel movement patterns.

Diet Recommendation

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recommends adopting a fiber-rich diet that is low in fat to alleviate constipation. One should start with a small increase in fiber and gradually increase to 25g – 30g each day.

Whole grain breads, fruits and veggies, and beans contain large amounts of fiber. Replacing meat with beans a handful of times a week is a great way to increase fiber and decrease fat. Snacking on fruit and vegetables instead of crackers and chip is also effective, as is swapping out cheese with salads. Oatmeal with fresh fruits is a much better option than donuts or muffins.

Dietary Treatment for Irritable Bowel SyndromeIBS and Fiber Types

The National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse reports that insoluble fiber is more likely to provoke negative reactions in people suffering from IBS. Foods high in insoluble fibers include wheat bran, vegetables, and certain fruits. This fiber is great at adding bulk to stool in many people, but can cause bloating and abdominal pain in people with IBS, and possibly even diarrhea.

It is recommended that individuals with IBS switch from foods high in insoluble fiber to foods high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water to become gelatinous, which is easier on the digestive tract and may alleviate constipation.

Things to Consider

Increasing fiber intake too rapidly can make constipation worse. Increase fiber and fluid intake gradually to prevent gastrointestinal distress. Meals should be spread out throughout the day and reactions to fibrous foods should be monitored closely. Any noticeable changes in digestion should be noted to discuss with a doctor.

Dietary Treatment for Irritable Bowel SyndromeWheat products, according to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, commonly trigger IBS. If this occurs, one should switch over to eating foods higher in soluble fiber, such as whole oats, to see if this relieves constipation without agitating IBS. Small servings of questionable foods may also prevent IBS flare-ups.

Additional Treatments

Laxatives and fiber supplements may help push waste through the colon and prevent IBS symptoms. Increasing fiber may assist with constipation, but not necessarily with pain in the abdomen.

A doctor may prescribe an antispasmodic medication to control spasms in the large intestines, but these medicines can also make increase constipation.

Some doctors may pair this prescription with an intestinal muscle relaxer. One should work closely with their doctor to find a treatment that meets their needs.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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