How Processed Foods Can Exacerbate Your Ibs Symptoms
In many ways, irritable bowel syndrome remains a mystery. Unlike most diseases, there is no single set of symptoms, causes, or method of diagnosing it. Even the exact cause of IBS is unknown. Studies often focus on the factors that different people with IBS have in common. One of these is diet and the types of foods that exacerbate symptoms.
Although most of the links between food and symptoms are still based on theory rather than fact, the people who have endured the symptoms have recognized the connection for many years. Without input from patients, we might still be in the dark about common dietary triggers that make symptoms worse. Although these triggers vary among sufferers, there is a select group of foods that are more likely to cause problems than others. Things like chocolate, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners are recognized food triggers, but recent research indicates that ultra-processed foods are a likely cause as well.
Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome
At Gastro Center in New Jersey, we have innovative approaches for managing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can improve your quality of life with dietary modifications, stress-relief techniques, IBS-specific medication, and more.
Together, well find better solutions for your IBS symptoms.
59 Main Street, Suite 1 West Orange, NJ 07052
Tips To Safer Intermittent Fasting
Drink Water!It is important to drink plenty of water, even during fasting hours. Not only does this alleviate any possible hunger feelings, water stops dehydration and is essential to maintain good digestive health. Other non-sugary liquids such as black coffee and herbal teas are also safe to drink during fasting hours.
Exercise Many people are unsure whether it is safe to exercise while fasting. This varies from person to person and depends on your health circumstance. Exercising in a fasted state may decrease endurance and limit our ability to fully benefit from the exercise. If you find you run out of energy to exercise, you may require a change to your fasting pattern and increasing your energy intake.
Eat FibreHaving a restricted eating window means that you may be missing out on fibre. Fibre is a key nutrient that helps normal digestion and keeps IBS symptoms at bay. Small meal portions that are high in fibre help you feel fuller for longer and reduce digestion complications.
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Patient Success With Intermittent Fasting
Although more research is needed to make intermittent fasting a definitive solution to managing IBS symptoms, anecdotal evidence shows that IF can significantly improve a patients quality of life.
Patients report a lighter experience due to the eating restrictions necessary to perform intermittent fasting. Patients feel less bloated and less prone to urgent bowel movements. For patients whose sleep is disturbed by untimely bowel movements, IBS has been proven to regulate their toilet visits as long as a strict eating window is followed.
One patient affirms that intermittent fasting has helped regulate his bowel movements. With a slow digestive system, food takes a lot longer to process and is often expelled at irregular times. Even then, as is the case with majority of IBS cases, the bowel movement doesnt relieve the feeling of having to go to the toilet.
But with intermittent fasting, patients have reported a significant improvement in abdominal pain, distension, irregular bowel movements, and stool consistency.
What Makes Irritable Bowel Syndrome Worse
Irritable bowel disorder is a common gastrointestinal abnormality affecting up to 20% of the U.S. population. Patients experience sporadic episodes of bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. These symptoms come and go depending on a patients lifestyle choices.
Learn more about IBS from our last post: Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes.
So what makes irritable bowel syndrome worse? Certain foods such as those high in FODMAP are known to induce IBS symptoms. Other key variables such as stress, lack of exercise, and even hormonal imbalances can trigger symptoms.
Below are the top triggers for IBS, and understanding how to manage them.
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What Will The Doctor Do
Most kids get a stomachache, constipation, or diarrhea now and then. This doesn’t mean a kid has IBS.
But when a kid has these problems regularly, a doctor may think it could be IBS. Here are some questions the doctor might ask:
There is no test to diagnose IBS. Doctors often diagnose the problem just by listening to a person describe the symptoms. That’s why it’s really important for kids to talk with their parents and their doctor about their symptoms, even if it seems embarrassing.
When Is Intermittent Fasting Not Beneficial For Ibs
Just like a low FODMAP diet, success with intermittent fasting isnt guaranteed. Depending on your type of IBS, your stomach might respond negatively to a lack of food.
Intermittent fasting may not be useful for patients whose symptoms occur as a response to an empty stomach. Patients who experience acid reflux and abdominal pain due to an empty stomach are not good candidates for intermittent fasting.
As with any new technique for managing symptoms, we suggest easing into this new process. Instead of fasting for 24 hours or even 16 hours, we recommend doing shorter fast times in order to evaluate whether or not your stomach is against fasting.
In order to preserve the benefits of intermittent fasting, make sure you dont overeat during your feeding time. Consuming excess calories during your feeding time is only going to make your fasting attempt irrelevant. Stick to a healthy calorie limit and eat foods that wont aggravate your symptoms.
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Vomiting On A Regular Basis
Vomiting is not a symptom of IBS. This is not to say that some people who have IBS don’t experience nausea and vomiting from time to time, but this is not because of their IBS. There are a large number of health conditions that can result in the symptom of vomiting.
It is essential that you tell your doctor if you are experiencing vomiting on a frequent basis. Seek immediate medical care if you are experiencing uncontrollable vomiting or are vomiting up blood.
There is a health condition, classified like IBS as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, called cyclic vomiting disorder . In CVS, a person experiences episodes of vomiting without any other sign of disease.
Why Probiotics Can Make You Feel Worse
The harmony that exists within our GI tract is down to the number and variety of microorganisms that colonise it – a.k.a. our microbiome. Given that these bacteria, yeast and other species total in the trillions, with countless different strains represented, its an extremely complex interplay that exists within us.
Our gut bacteria have now been shown to play a crucial role in almost every process of the body. This is why introducing different species into the mix can temporarily have an impact on the environment and the symptoms we experience. This is particularly true of IBS-type symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain and loose stools , which are the most common side effects of probiotics we see in our clinical practice.
There is a balance that exists within the GI tract and when we use supplement forms of probiotics or fermented foods we are temporarily changing that balance. This is not to say that the previous balance wasnt doing us harm, its just that a level of equilibrium existed and that we have now potentially thrown it into chaos. It isnt until a new, hopefully more beneficial, balance establishes itself that symptoms will stop.
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Diet Plans For Ibs Sufferers
Higher protein, lower carbohydrate, and moderate dietary fat diets can work wonders on IBS. Something like the paleo diet has been described as the best weight loss diet for IBS sufferers.
You do want to make sure that you cut down the amount of dietary fat youre taking with this dietary approach, however, as to much dietary fat on a daily basis can make your IBS symptoms even worse.
Fruit, lactose-free dairy products, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables are the way to go. Youll get all of the nutrients you need to fuel your body without adding any IBS triggers to your daily intake.
Youll also be able to keep your calorie count low while still feeling full throughout the day, helping you increase your overall metabolic activity so that you melt fat around-the-clock.
At the end of the day, figuring out how to master IBS weight loss is always going to be a bit of a cat and mouse kind of game.
Youre going to have to try different foods, see how you react, and then try different options or different quantities over a couple of months to see what triggers the best weight loss results.
Can IBS cause weight gain?
You bet it can!
But armed with the inside information we highlighted above and youll never have to worry about any of that extra weight gain becoming permanent.
Youll be able to melt it off faster than you ever thought possible all while still enjoying most of your favorite foods and snacks along the way!
Eating Foods That Disagree With You
Given that IBS affects the gut, it makes sense that eating certain foods can exacerbate symptoms. However, as with most things related to IBS, the ones that aggravate you can be different from the ones that set off another persons symptoms. I would say that there are a number of classic triggers, but not everyone falls into them, Poppers says.
Many of those classic triggers, he says, fall under the umbrella of fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols . These are short-chain carbohydrates that are hard to digest and poorly absorbed, leading to excessive gas and fluid, which can cause bloating and pain. Examples include:
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Gaining Weight With Ibs
According to information published by the Cleveland Clinic, IBS is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders that attacks the normal function of our GI tract. As many as 20% of all adults in the United States today have reported living with symptoms linked to IBS on a constant or chronic basis.
And while the root causes that trigger IBS remain unknown for the most part researchers have discovered that its a lot less likely to lose weight when you are dealing with IBS and instead much more likely to put on weight which is the reverse of what usually happens when youre gastrointestinal tract is under attack.
New research indicates that there is a very close link between the hormones that regulate our weight being produced inside of our digestive tract. That means that when IBS is active and messing with normal gastrointestinal operations these hormones are triggered differently than they would have been while you are healthy.
This creates a lot more body fat, maintains body fat even the face of regular dieting and exercise, and makes biochemical changes throughout the body that can really make losing weight rather difficult.
Does Exercise Help With Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Working out might be the last thing you want to do as an IBS patient, but science shows this can actually be beneficial. A group of patients were asked to do 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week.
After three months, the active group reported better results than the inactive group. Symptoms worsened in 23% of cases in the inactive group, while only 8% of individuals felt worse after 3 months of exercise .
Exercise is also a good way to reduce stress. To maximize your workout sessions, we recommend doing the following:
- Dont eat fatty foods before exercising
- Try to schedule your exercises closer to when your intestines are most quiet
- Dont drink caffeinated drinks such as coffee and energy drinks before working out
- If you have hyperactive bowels, eat first thing in the morning
- Drink lots of water before working out
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Your Sick Day Diet For All Types Of Ibs
Some people with IBS experience diarrhea and some experience constipation, while others cycle between the two. It helps to have some strategies to turn to when your IBS symptoms act up.
Finding the right foods for managing IBS, especially when you’re having a sick day, can feel a lot like solving a mystery piecing together clues and uncovering culprits. As you learn ways to ease symptoms like diarrhea and constipation, you’re likely to get overwhelmed by the long list of foods you shouldnt eat. You want to know what you can eat when IBS symptoms strike so you can stay well nourished.
Some say that a low-FODMAP diet can help improve IBS symptoms. For example, a review published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology in 2017 found that 50 to 86 percent of people with IBS showed improvement in their symptoms on a low-FODMAP diet.
The diet involves eliminating foods that are high in certain carbohydrates called FODMAPs, or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. But the diet doesnt offer specific advice for diarrhea or constipation, said Baharak Moshiree, MD, a physician specializing in gastroenterology at Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tweaking your diet according to your specific sick day symptoms will help even more.
Heres how to get started.
Day Low Fodmap Meal Plan
A tasty 7 day meal plan with over 25 healthy meals for easing IBS flares
What to eat during an IBS flare
Some people may find that eating foods lower in FODMAPs during a flare up of IBS can improve symptoms.
Example foods are chicken, tofu, oats, eggs, grapes, melon, potato, rice, peppers, broccoli and many more. See my 7 day Meal plan for a low FODMAP selection of healthy recipes to try.
How long does an IBS flare last?
Everything with IBS is very individual but people may experience an upset stomach for around 2-4 days before things settle down again.
What does an IBS flare feel like?
Your IBS flare symptoms may include
- bloating or swelling in your tummy
- excess gas
- feeling sensitive around your digestion
- feeling like you havent been able to fully empty bowels
If youre ready to identify what triggers your IBS flare ups then please get in touch. I can help you, as Ive helped many other people already find a diet that works. See me a message to get started on your nutrition journey.
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Common Medical Treatments For Ibs
Since the exact cause of IBS is not known, the goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms. If diet and lifestyle changes donât improve your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend IBS medications. Some common medications include:
- IBS medications: Some medications can help with IBS by either slowing the movement of material through the bowel to reduce diarrhea or by increasing fluid production in the small intestine to reduce constipation. Alosetron or Lubiprostone are two common IBS medications.
- Antispasmodics: These are designed to relax the smooth muscles of the colon to ease cramping and spasms. Two such medications are hyoscine and dicyclomine . They may cause side effects that include dry mouth, palpitations, and difficulty urinating.
- Antidiarrheals: These medications can be useful in treating severe diarrhea. But they should be taken with cautionâ antidiarrheals may have side effects such as nausea and vomiting and should be taken under close supervision. Loperamide is an example of an Antidiarrheal medication.
- Antidepressant medications: Certain antidepressants can help relieve diarrhea and constipation and may treat pain in IBS. They are often prescribed in lower doses for IBS than for depression. Antidepressants for IBS should be taken under supervision as side effects can include insomnia, nausea, and weight gain or loss. Some tricyclic antidepressants used for IBS include imipramine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram .
Restricting Fodmaps For Ibs
Foods containing FODMAPs
In recent years the low-FODMAP diet has been getting a lot of research attention for its ability to improve IBS symptoms.16
FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. That unwieldy name describes types of short-chain carbohydrates found in many fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, dairy products, and some processed foods.
What FODMAPs have in common is that they tend to ferment in the small intestine, causing gas and bloating. They are also poorly absorbed by the gut wall and cause fluid to remain in the intestinal space, which can lead to diarrhea in those with IBS-D.17
FODMAPs include fructose and fructans found in many fruits, vegetables and wheat products lactose, a sugar found in milk and some dairy products galactooligosaccharides found in beans and lentils and sugar alcohols such as the sweeteners sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol.18
In recent years, following a low-FODMAP diet under the guidance of a registered dietitian has gained acceptance as a first-line therapy for IBS.19Patients first eliminate all FODMAPs in their diet and then slowly reintroduce them to see which ones they can tolerate.
However, along with acknowledging low FODMAPs as an option, most specialists still also recommend more traditional advice for IBS: small meals, regular food intake and avoidance of coffee and fat.20
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