Irritable Bowel Syndrome: IBS Symptoms Diet and Treatment


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an affectation of the large intestine, and is quite a common problem. People suffering from IBS experience uncomfortable symptoms, but the condition does not alter bowel tissue or increase chances of getting colorectal cancer.

IBS Symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and their severity can greatly vary between people. Secondly, it can be difficult to diagnose IBS, since the symptoms are common for other diseases as well. The most common symptoms of IBS include –

Feeling bloated
Cramping or pain in the abdomen
Constipation or diarrhea, and sometimes these two symptoms can keep alternating in a patient
Stools with mucus

IBS is usually a chronic disorder; however, patients can experience durations of worsening symptoms, and times when they seem to have completely disappeared. Nevertheless, symptoms should not be ignored, especially when they keep recurring.

Treatment Options

Since the cause of IBS is not yet clear, treatments mainly focus on relieving symptoms to improve quality of life of patients. People with mild IBS are able to manage symptoms with dietary changes and by reducing stress in their lives. Patients having moderate to severe symptoms will need medication and they will have to make major lifestyle changes.

Ideal Diet for People with IBS

Eliminate Everything that Causes Gas

Since gas and bloating are main symptoms of IBS, efforts should be made to eliminate or reduce foods that cause these symptoms. High gas foods are raw fruits, and certain vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. It is important to eliminate carbonated beverages, as they contain gas, and avoid using straw while drinking and do no chew gum, as it makes you swallow more air, which causes gas in the body.

Some health experts recommend a high fiber diet, as it helps in reducing constipation. However, more fiber can create gas and worsen abdominal cramps. It would be good to increase fiber in your diet gradually and work with a dietitian. For people, who are unable to tolerate increase of fiber in food might benefit from taking fiber supplements that are known to cause less gas. Again, you need to take these supplements gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Dairy products can cause gas, especially when you are lactose intolerant. If you are unable to tolerate dairy foods, you should ensure you consume enough B vitamins, calcium, and protein through other foods or supplements.

Lifestyle Changes

Increasing intake of healthy liquids is good for managing symptoms of IBS. However, avoid beverages with caffeine and alcohol, as they can irritate the intestines. Introduce exercise in your routine, if you not already exercising on a regular basis. Workouts help in relieving stress and depression, and at the physical level, exercising normalizes intestinal contractions. Lastly, make sure you have your meals on time and do not miss any meals, as that can help in regulating bowel function. In case of diarrhea, take small portions of food frequently, and if you are suffering from constipation eat larger portions of foods having fiber.


Do not use over the counter anti-diarrheal or laxative medications without medical supervision, as they can cause problems in the long run, if they are not taken in the right doses and at the right times. If you are taking anti-depressants, make sure your doctor knows about your IBS, as he may want to adjust the dose. Currently, two medications, Lubiprostone and Alosetron, are being prescribed to IBS patients, and they should be taken only under medical supervision.

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