20 Foods That Make Irritable Bowel Syndrome Worse

20 Foods That Make Irritable Bowel Syndrome Worse

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder which affects more than 15% of Americans. In 2015, “The American Journal of Gastroenterology” described a study in which the team of researchers discovered significant differences between gut bacteria of patients with IBS and people with healthy digestive tracts. And, it was also found that these differences could impact the patient`s ability to digest certain foods.

20 Foods That Make Irritable Bowel Syndrome Worse

  • Alcohol

As little as 20% of alcohol is absorbed by the stomach, while the rest is absorbed by the small intestine.  Alcohol can throw the digestive system out of whack, as it causes the stomach to produce high amounts of stomach acid. 

  • Dairy

According to a 2017 study published in “The Lancet: Gastroenterology and Hepatology”, while around 67% of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant.

Dairy like milk and cheese can produce symptoms like bloating, cramps, constipation, and diarrhea in lactose intolerant individuals.  A few types of cheese have low levels of lactose, such as brie, parmesan, and mozzarella.  IBS patients should opt for lactose-free dairy products.

  • Red meat

Although red meat is a great source of vitamin B12, it is quite difficult to digest.

  • Fried and fatty foods

Fried food is extremely bad for digestion, especially when it is high in fat.  Fatty fried food like chips and French fries contain large amounts of saturated fats, which the body has difficulty digestion.  As a result, this produces symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and indigestion.

  • Processed foods

Processed food is bad for everyone, especially for IBS patients.  It is often very fatty, which makes it hard to digest.  And, it often contains food additives and artificial sweeteners.

  • Artificial sweeteners

A study published in the journal “Molecules” studied the effects of sorbitol on the digestive system. It was found that it produces symptoms like indigestion and diarrhea, while negatively affecting gut bacteria and impairing the ability to metabolize glucose.

  • Chocolate

Chocolate contains a couple of ingredients that are problematic for IBS patients. For instance, caffeine is a natural diuretic known to make stools harder to pass. They are also loaded with sugar and milk, both of which can be a matter of concern.

  • Fruits with pits

Fruits with pits, such as cherries and peaches, are packed with fructose, a monosaccharide that can affect IBS patients the same way as dairy affects those with lactose intolerance.

  • Fructose- rich fruits

Fruits with pits are not the only food items that contain large amounts of fructose. Other fruits on the list include apples, grapefruit, watermelon, and blackberries.

  • Wheat

Wheat contains fructans, type of carbohydrate related to fructose.  These are among FODMAPs (carbohydrates that are known to cause or worsen irritable bowel syndrome’s symptoms), which means that they can trigger symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

  • Rye

Rye is quite high in fructans, so it is known to trigger symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Foods with lots of fiber

Fiber is quite ambiguous when it comes to this list. Some patients have found that it makes them worse while others find it helps relieve their symptoms. There are various types of fiber, which is a large part of the problem.  For instance, soluble fiber slows movement in the digestive tract, while insoluble has the opposite effect.

  • Corn

Corn is high in sugar and fiber, which makes it difficult to digest.  Although processed foods should generally be avoided, but IBS patients should opt for corn bran or creamed corn as they are easier to digest.

  • Spicy food

Most spicy foods are made with chili peppers, which contain capsaicin. This substance is known to cause stomach pain, burning sensation, and an increase in GI tract`s motility.

  • Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes contain carbohydrates which are hard to digest and cause intestinal gas as a result. Examples of beans and legumes include soybeans, lima beans, kidney beans, baked beans, and black-eyed peas.

  • Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale contain raffinose, a type of sugar that people have trouble digesting it.

  • Other vegetables high in FODMAPS

Examples of veggies high in FODMAPS include leeks, beets, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and garlic.

  • Carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks can increase intestinal gas and cause bloating. It is important to mention that diet sodas are just as likely to cause gas as regular sodas.

  • Caffeinated drinks

Caffeine can cause diarrhea in IBS patients and worsen dehydration caused as a result.

  • Chewing gum

Chewing gum contains artificial sweeteners which make the symptoms of IBS worse.



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