Role of Nutrition inmanaging IBS (Irritable bowel Syndrome)

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in the abdomen and changes in the  bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS,  these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in the digestive tract.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how the  brain and gut work together. These problems can cause the gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in the bowel contract. If the gut is more sensitive, people may feel more abdominal pain and bloating. Changes in how the muscles in the bowel contract lead to diarrhea, constipation, or both.

The most common symptoms of IBS include:

Changes in bowel habits (Diarrhea, Constipation or constipation alternating with diarrhea)
Abdominal pain and cramping, which often reduce after passing a stool.
A feeling that the bowels are not empty after passing stools.
passing excess gas
Food Intolerance
Heartburn and indigestion
Passing of mucus from the rectum
A sudden, urgent need to use the bathroom.
Swelling or bloating of the abdomen

Symptoms often get worse after meals. A flare-up may last for several days, and then symptoms either improve or resolve completely.

Signs and symptoms vary between individuals. They often resemble symptoms of other diseases and conditions and can also affect different parts of the body.

These may include:

Frequent urination
Halitosis, or bad breath
Joint or muscle pain
Persistent fatigue
In females, painful sex, or dyspareunia
Irregular menstruation

Anxiety and depression may also occur, often due to the discomfort and embarrassment that may accompany the condition.

Dietary recommendations for IBS:

Dietary factors can play a role in triggering IBS symptoms.

The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The Monash team undertook the first research to investigate whether a low FODMAP diet improved symptom control in patients with IBS and established the mechanism by which the diet exerted its effect.

FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols,” and it has recently received a lot of attention among people with food sensitivities.

FODMAPs are sugars that are poorly digested, and this group of carbohydrates is commonly found in our modern food. To understand how they impact the health; people need to know how FODMAPs can react within their body.

What is a FODMAP?

Certain sugars fall within the FODMAP category, including:

Sugar alcohols (Polyols), such as those found in plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, avocados, maltitol, mannitol, and sorbitol.
Galactans, such as those found in soy, lentils, beans, and legumes.
Fructans (inulin), such as those found in garlic, onion, and wheat.
Lactose, which is found in dairy.
Fructose, such as those found in high fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, and certain fruits.

These sugars are fermentable, which means that they can cause a reaction when they encounter the bacteria in the gut.

How FODMAPs Impact our Body?

It’s difficult to avoid FODMAPs no matter how healthy their diet is, so one need to understand the reaction that happens within the body when they eat these foods.

The sugars that fall within the FODMAP category cause a reaction within the gut, which can have a negative impact on health. These sugars are poorly digested and poorly absorbed when they reach the intestinal tract, and they cause fermentation when they react with the bacteria in the gut. This fermentation causes gas, which needs to be released from the body.

Another physical reaction that occurs from FODMAPs is that they cause the gut to draw water into the intestinal tract. The increase of water in the gut can lead to digestive problems, imbalanced gut bacteria, and other health problems. These side effects are especially pronounced in people who have intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

There are a few standard symptoms that might occur when they eat FODMAPs, including:


Everybody is different, so the symptoms may vary from one person to the next.

Should we Eliminate FODMAPs from our Diet?

When we hear about the side effects that may occur from FODMAPs, people might be wondering if they need to eliminate those foods from their diet. It isn’t always necessary for a person to completely eliminate FODMAPs, although people might consider trying an elimination diet in order to identify the foods that they are sensitive to. With the elimination diet, they should begin by cutting out all food sources of FODMAPs. Gradually, people can begin to add the foods back into their diet one at a time, and keep a journal tracking the symptoms that occur when they start eating those foods. By limiting the food additions to one type of food, one will be able to understand exactly how their body is reacting to each FODMAP.

Low-FODMAP Foods

If onechoose to eliminate or decrease the consumption of FODMAPs, there are some types of food that they can enjoy that are low in FODMAPs. Those foods include:

Gluten free grains, such as tapioca, millet, arrowroot, quinoa, oats, rice, and spelt.
Lactose free milk, almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk
Hard cheese, and lactose free yogurts
Thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano, marjoram, lemongrass, ginger, coriander, chili, and basil
Vegetables, including zucchini, yams, turnips, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, beets, peppers, pumpkin, olives, lettuce, green beans, ginger, endive, celery, carrots, bok choy, bean shoots, bamboo shoots, and alfalfa
Limited fresh fruits, including strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, passion fruit, oranges, mandarins, limes, lemons, kiwi, melons, grapefruit, grapes, cranberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, and bananas

If people choose to follow a low-FODMAP diet, then they might be able to start including a few FODMAPs in the diet as time goes on. Once the gut begins to heal, they may be able to digest the sugars more effectively, and the sensitivity may begin to decrease.

It isn’t necessary for everyone to eliminate FODMAPs from their diet because some people don’t have the digestive problems that may occur when people eat these foods. Anyone with IBS, unexplained digestive problems, high stress, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth could possibly benefit from eliminating FODMAPs from their diet for a time.

The best way to determine if a low-FODMAP diet might be beneficial forindividual  is by paying attention to the way they feel after eating and the way the digestive system is working. If an individual frequently experience any of the symptoms that were listed above, then it is likely that they have food sensitivities which are having a negative impact on the gut. There is no reason to eliminate these foods if an individualdon’t have the digestive problems, because there are many great nutrients that can be gained when they are eating FODMAPs.

Take a home message from Nutritionist:

IBS is a chronic functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract with symptoms of abdominal pain and altered bowel habits that include diarrhea, constipation, or both. Patients who suffer from IBS often have an impaired quality of life.

Each person with IBS will have different reactions to foods and these may vary over time, it is helpful to maintain a food journal to keep track of what they eat. The journal can help to identify the foods people are unable to tolerate during a flare. It can also reveal whether their diet is providing an adequate supply of nutrients.Tracking foods along with symptoms will be helpful when speaking to the Doctor or Dietitian.

Article written by Gayathri Nemalikanti, Certified Clinical Nutritionist,  Innovate medical Center,Ayyappa Society Main Road, Madhapur, Hyderabad,  Ph:040 4004 0400 Website : Address: 2nd Floor, 802- 803 Ayyappa Central, Madhapur, Hyderabad 500081, Telangana

Spread the love
Ad Widget

Recommended For You

About the Author: Fazal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *