‘What foods can I eat with IBS?’
I am frequently asked this in consultations and in reality there is no simple answer, everyone reacts differently to different foods and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.
So what foods cause flatulence (wind), diarrhoea and bloating? In general carbohydrates that ferment easily in the gut can cause problems in individuals with IBS, hence the FODMAP diet. This diet is recommended by the NHS as it focuses on low ferment carbohydrates which can help reduce bloating, stomach cramps, wind or urgency to go to the toilet. But no one wants to spend their entire life on a restrictive diet do they? So what to do? That’s where nutritional therapy can help. Nutritional therapists review food diaries, assess dietary intake and lifestyle to help you find the plan that best suits you.
Ensuring we provide ourselves with the right nutritional support for our gut is one of the key factors to a happy healthy gut. Here I’ve listed some things to avoid/include in your diet
Reduce/avoid alcohol – ok so no one wants to hear that but even just by reducing alcohol intake to within guidelines (14 units per week) can help with gut problems. Excess alcohol has been linked to bacterial overgrowth and leaky gut in some studies.
Reduce/avoid refined carbohydrates – I call these the ‘beige’ foods. High in sugars and very attractive to undesirable bacteria in the gut, these foods will promote gut imbalance and cause problems. Always try to switch to whole grains and more complex carbohydrates such as beans, lentils, vegetables, quinoa whenever possible
Increase fibre – there’s 2 types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Although both are beneficial to the body, soluble fibre keeps your gut in good working order. It helps prevent constipation and promotes a healthy gut flora. Examples of soluble fibre would be oats and any vegetables
Use herbs and spices in your cooking – many herbs and spices have powerful anti-microbial properties. Herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, peppermint and spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, chilli have been proven to be active against certain bacteria and fungus. Eating these regularly can help to improve gut health
Fermented foods - kimchi, sauerkraut, miso paste, kombucha, kefir. These help to support the gut’s natural flora so incorporating them into your regular diet promotes gut health.
Reduce stress – stress is known to have strong links with gut imbalance, it contributes to cramping, IBS and increased pain perception. Take steps to reduce your stress load and seek support if you feel it would be helpful.
Exercise – is there anything exercise isn’t good for?! Regular exercise is good for many things but in particular it helps to get the blood flowing and so aids removal of toxins generated in the gut through digestion that needs to be carried in the bloodstream for elimination. However, excessive intensive exercise that isn’t properly supported can be damaging to the gut as the body redirects valuable nutrients away from the gut to build muscle and provide energy in other areas.
All these nutrients work together synergistically with others in the body, they need one to help the other so they don't work well in isolation. So it's important that you have a balanced diet that contain these nutrients on a daily basis. For some recipe ideas, go to my blog!
Your liver and immune health will also have an impact on your gut so if you feel you have imbalances in either of these areas it may be helpful to book in for a 1 to 1 consultation with me to find out more about your body. Or book onto my gut health and yoga workshop to learn more!