People with IBS may react to certain foods including those high in sugar or fat as their gut is more sensitive.

So, what can you eat if you have IBS? It’s not easy because, much like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the experience of IBS is as individual as you are. Though there are some foods that commonly make symptoms worse, such as gluten or dairy, other food groups or ingredients can vary quite dramatically between people. The main thing is to be patient and methodical to find what works for you.

For many people common triggers include, dairy (milk, cheese, cream and butter), gluten (grains such as wheat, barley and rye) and some fruits or vegetables. Onions and pulses (peas, lentils and beans) are also known to cause flare ups. Apples and fruits that contain stones can cause reactions in some people so try citrus fruits instead. Some people find it helpful to avoid hot chilli spice and strong coffee.

For anyone who suspects that they may have a food intolerance it is advisable to start by keeping an accurate and detailed diary of symptoms. A simple elimination diet may then help to confirm the role of a particular food in any symptoms. This is often best done with the guidance and support of a registered dietician, such as Yvonne McKenzie who has many years of experience and a special interest in helping people with IBS.

IBS and FODMAPs

FODMAP

FODMAPs are associated with sensitivity in both IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  They are a collection of poorly absorbed simple and complex sugars that are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and also in milk and wheat. These pass through the stomach and small intestine and can be fermented by the bacteria that reside in the bowel.

In people with a sensitive gut, they can cause symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. A low FODMAP diet is often prescribed in these cases. A wealth of information on FODMAPs is available from Kings College London.