How can I control my IBS symptoms?

Patsy Catsos
Nutrition & Dietetics
If standard therapy for IBS (such as eating more fiber, drinking more fluids, regular exercise and meals) doesn't help, consider trying a low FODMAP diet. This type of diet is not a permanent way of eating, but a dietary experiment to find out whether certain types of sugars or fibers in your diet are contributing to your IBS symptoms. 50-85% of patients with IBS get relief of symptoms with this relatively new approach.
For some people, everyday stress can result in stomach cramps and indigestion. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common disorder that is often caused by stress.

It may seem like IBS is out of your hands, but managing what you eat can help reduce the symptoms. If you suffer from IBS, follow these guidelines:
  • Monitor your eating patterns and ensure you are getting all of the nutrients your body requires.
  • Limit foods that cause gas.
  • Find out if you have food allergies or intolerances to caffeine, lactose or alcohol.
  • Slowly increase the amount of fiber you consume by eating high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
  • Drink plenty of water.
Understanding IBS and its relationship with food can make managing it much easier. Contact a registered dietitian for more information on treating IBS.
In general, eating regular, not large, meals, taking time to eat, drinking plenty of noncaffeinated liquids, and limiting insoluble fiber intake (such as wheat or bran) help control symptoms. On the other hand, soluble fibers, for example psyllium, may sometimes help overall symptoms. Increased physical activity usually helps, as well. Keeping a food diary may help you keep track of what foods make your IBS worse. Probiotics may also be helpful, but the best evidence is for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for children, or Bifidobacteriumbifidum MIMBb75 in adults. There are medicines which may control specific symptoms of IBS, so you should discuss those and all these therapies with your primary care doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.