Can Indian Food Cause IBS?

Only those spicy dishes and meals with curry.

Clear the Misconceptions

Say “Indian food’ and one of two things would almost always come to mind:

Curry. Spicy food.

But there’s more to Indian food!

India may be the country that produces the largest number of varieties of spices in the world, thus earning the title “Land of Spices”, but that doesn’t mean all Indian food are made with curry powder. Neither does it mean that all Indian foods are spicy.

What this means is not all Indian food will set the stage for your IBS attack.

The Relation of IBS and Indian Food

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common health condition characterised by symptoms including abdominal pain, acid reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and gas. Certain types of food, such as FODMAPs, fatty and spicy foods, have been linked to exacerbating these symptoms.

Some IBS sufferers avoid eating Indian food altogether owing to their misconception that all Indian foods have curry in it, or are spicy. But this is a wide-sweeping generalisation that can make you miss out on enjoying some of the healthiest dishes ever invented!

So, is there a relation between your IBS and Indian food? The answer depends on the Indian food in question.

Less Spice, More Nice

For your digestive system, that is.

Eating spicy food has been observed as one of the triggers for IBS symptoms, particularly abdominal pain. A study involving 23 IBS patients concluded that these patients have a higher number of TRPV1-immunoreactive fibres in their bodies. These nerve fibres are found to react negatively to an element found in chilli peppers, leading to more pain. These red hot peppers are commonly used to add spice to any dish, not just in Indian food, but in other cuisines as well.

Carry On, Curry Off

So if you love Indian food but suffer from IBS, do not worry! You can still indulge in authentic and delicious Indian food without suffering from a major IBS episode.

Instead of curry, consider its less spicy cousin korma instead. Have a butter chicken or tandoori chicken in lieu of chicken tikka masala. Order a pasanda instead of a laal maas.

There are countless, non-spicy Indian foods for you to try and enjoy. Pakoras, papri chaats and samosas are healthy Indian snacks that won’t leave a sting in your tongue. Aloo paratha and dosa are Indian breads that are filling and delicious as well.

Made from Scratch in India

Most Indian dishes, particularly the traditional ones, are made from scratch. This means you have full control over the ingredients you wish to put in the dish, from which type of spice to how much.

This makes Indian food ideal for those who wish to customise their meals to better suit their dietary health needs. Tweaking your Indian food recipe according to your preferences—making it less spicy by using milder, sweeter curry powder, for example—may be all that you need to do to satisfy your craving for Indian food without suffering from your IBS symptoms shortly after.

Need Our Help?

Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, discover how we can help you cope with your Gut and Bowel Health issues.