What are the best IBS foods that can help calm and soothe the most common symptoms of IBS - constipation, diarrhea, cramping and gas?
Among the foods that you CAN eat, you want to choose some IBS foods particularly good at healing your gut so that you can again enjoy life to the full.
Depending on whether you suffer mainly with constipation or diarrhea, you'll find below a list of IBS foods particularly suited to relieve your problem.
Because everyone with IBS reacts to foods differently, finding natural remedies that work for you can take a bit of trial and error, so don't be discouraged if the first attempts are not successful. Keep trying and you'll soon find out what works best for you.
We'll discuss IBS Foods to Relieve Constipation first but you can skip to...
IBS Food To Relieve Constipation
Apples are what's called an amphoteric food, which means they can work in either direction, plugging you up if your bowels are loose or loosening you up if you're constipated.
Because they contain lots of both soluble and insoluble fibre, apples are an excellent choice to be included in your IBS foods.
Berries contain large amounts of fibre, helping your stools to absorb lots of water to become heavier and travel through your intestines faster.
Elderberries top the list with 5 g. of fibre in a 1/2 cup serving.
Raspberries are next at 4 g., with blackberries coming in third with 3 g.
Blueberries and strawberries are good too.
The juice of mulberries and boysenberries is gently laxative.
Include a salad tossed with various dark leafy greens in your foods for IBS. These greens provide some omega-3 fatty acids, that help keep your bowel moving.
Deep-coloured greens offer the best benefit.
Dandelion greens, in particular, are an effective natural laxative and have the advantage of growing everywhere.
Dandelion increases bile flow into your large intestine, which helps prevent constipation.
Also known as linseed, flaxseed is very high in fibre and rich in omega-3's, both helpful for constipation.
Three tablespoons of flaxseed has about 3 g. of fibre.
It can be added to salads, cereals, casseroles and breads.
But to get the benefits of flaxseed you need to use ground or cracked seeds because your digestive tract cannot crack open the hard shell that surrounds the seed (which is where all the benefits are).
Although flaxseed oil is good for you for other reasons, it doesn't do much for constipation, as it doesn't retain the fibre.
If you include flaxseed in your IBS foods be sure to drink plenty of water to keep all that bulk moving through.
Other sources of "vegetarian" omega-3 are also the seeds of chia, chiso, hemp, inca peanut and walnuts.
Long known for its many healing properties, ginger is a tasty way to deal with constipation.
Ginger contains certain chemicals that stimulate your digestive system by increasing the wavelike muscle contractions (peristalsis) that move food through your intestines, which is especially helpful for irritable bowel syndrome.
Fresh ginger offers the most medicinal benefits and is a must among the IBS foods.
Pickled ginger is thought to be as beneficial as fresh ginger.
Well known as effective food remedies for constipation, prunes contain three active ingredients: high content of fibre, a compound called dihydroxyphenyl isatin and sorbitol.
(To see how these three ingredients work to relieve constipation look at the page on Prunes and Prune Juice.)
Like prunes, other dried fruits - such as raisins and figs - are wonderful at relieving constipation. Raisins contain a compund called tartaric acid, which acts as a natural laxative.
Figs are also an excellent source of fibre, providing about 5 g. of fibre in just three dried and fresh figs.
Eating the stalks of rhubarb (not the leaves) has long been used in folk medicine to relieve constipation.
Rhubarb is a member of the buckwheat family, which makes it a good source of fibre.
It's important to know that you should eat only rhubarb stalks because rhubarb leaves contain very high levels of toxins called oxalates that can irritate the stomach.
The fibre found in dark yellow and orange winter squash, such as acorn, butternut and Hubbard squash, can be particularly helpful with constipation.
Pale summer squash, on the other hand, is lower in fibre and not as beneficial.
The tiny psyllium seeds are very high in fibre and are common ingredients in many over-the-counter laxatives.
They contain a specific fibre called mucilage, which absorbs a great deal of fluid in your gut and it can actually help both in constipation and diarrhea so be sure to include them in your IBS foods.
Psyllium seeds need lots of water to work well, so you must drink plenty if you try them.
(The page Lepicol - The Best Fiber Supplement has much more information on how and why Psyllium seeds work.)
IBS Foods To Relieve Diarrhea
Handy for treating diarrhea, apples contain both pectin and tannins, which work together to bind up your stools and soothe your digestive tract.
Both the skin and the pulp of apples are beneficial, which is why whole apples and applesauce are common food remedies for diarrhea.
One of the most astringent natural remedies for diarrhea is conventional tea in traditional tea bags - just plain, without any other herbs or spices added.
Tea is rich in tannins, which help bind stools and hold back bowel movements.
These berries are particularly effective against diarrhea because they, too, are rich in both pectin and tannins.
Dried, not fresh, bilberries and blueberries are best.
Cooked carrots seem to soothe the digestive tract and control diarrhea.
They also provide nutrients that are lost during an attack.
Interestingly, the Appalachians cook their beans with a small, whole carrot to reduce their gas-producing ability.
Eating foods know as "prebiotics" - non-digestible food elements that stimulate growth of the "good" bacteria in the digestive tract - can be helpful in preventing diarrhea.
Garlic, onions and leek are natural sources of prebiotics.
Eating lots of these flavourful foods can boost your immune system and ward off diarrhea-causing bacteria, so do include them liberally among your IBS foods.
According to studies in India, garlic's link to good
bacteria in the intestine also improves digestion and enhances
absorption of minerals, a helpful bonus during and after a bout of
Pomegranate's seeds can be astringent, helping bind and dry up your bowels.
Sipping pomegranate juice is a good option.
Some rind of the juice, even richer in binding tannins, is often incorporated in commercial pomegranate juice.
IBS Foods for Cramping and Gas
Any herb that soothes the digestive tract and minimizes gas is called carminative.
Dozens of herbs fall into this category. Here are a few of the best:
Ginger is a particularly helpful digestive aid because it helps to relieve gas, bloating and cramps.
It settles the intestine and removes gas from the digestive tract.
Try a nice cup of ginger tea by adding 1/2 teaspoon of ground or freshly grated ginger to 1 cup of hot water.
Peppermint has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of digestive ailments. Its gas-relieving chemicals make it an age-old remedy for flatulence and abdominal cramps.
It's also quite helpful in relieve heartburn.
LICORICE (GLYCYRRHYZA GLABRA)
Licorice contains several compounds that help protect the lining of the stomach and intestine.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a processed form of the herb and the preferred type to treat a handful of digestive ailments.
DGL has been shown to promote the release of certain compounds in saliva that may stimulate the healing of stomach and intestinal cells.
To soothe your digestive tract, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of DGL powder to your favorite herbal tea.
A combination of herbs designed to calm the symptoms of IBS.
Peppermint Complex combines plant oils to help maintain the health and
tranquility of the digestive system including peppermint, ginger,
fennel, chamomile and cardamom.
The IBS Miracle
How to Free Your Life from Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This book will show you how you can cure yourself of your IBS naturally, safely and permanently by giving your body what it needs.