Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Even the name itself is enough to give the stoutest of hearts (and guts) the heebie-jeebies. Think of it as a cold of the gastrointestinal system; extremely persistent and annoying as heck. I won’t go into the details (for the sake of your delicate sensibilities), but let’s just say that IBS can result in a very messy state of affairs.
Since IBS directly affects the gut, the first step to preventing it lies in addressing the types of food one consumes. Despite its widespread documentation however, the cause of IBS isn’t fully understood. It’s not the same as food allergies or digestive tract abnormalities; it just makes your stomach feel really uncomfortable.
IBS symptoms can be displayed even without actually suffering from the condition. Various food intolerances and sensitivities share similar symptoms with IBS, making it easy to confuse the two. As such, foods like nuts, shellfish, wheat and eggs may sometimes be the root cause of your discomfort.
Other common irritants that may be responsible for triggering your IBS include, but are not limited to:
- Greasy food
- Food containing lactose
- Food containing fructose
- Alcoholic drinks
- Carbonated drinks
- Caffeinated food and drinks
Sugar-free products can also inadvertently caused IBS due to the presence of sorbitol, a common non-nutritive sweetener used in place of sugar. While it doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream, sorbitol can cause gas and water to form in the colon and create IBS symptoms.
Currently, there are no broad dietary recommendations that claim to be able to fix IBS; only the exclusion of the responsible food is reported to carry any positive effect. Since IBS is only triggered when the offending food is introduced to the stomach, a preventive approach will provide better results. When it comes to identifying the foods to avoid however, trial and error still remains as the best approach.
If you already suffer from IBS, you can suss out the responsible party through a process of elimination. Slowly remove specific foods from your diet and see if your condition improves. Be thorough in your methods and remember that there may be more than one type of food responsible for your condition. Spending more time analysing your diet could lead to less time in the toilet.