When you have irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, you suffer not just from bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, changes in bowel habits, and alternating diarrhoea and constipation, but dietary restrictions as well. All these symptoms and food limitations adversely affect your overall quality of life.
To make living with IBS more pleasant and manageable for those of you who have it, we have made this list of 10 foods that are not only safe to consume but also beneficial and satisfying to eat, too.
1. Lean Meats
Lean meats have relatively low fat content and are mostly made of protein, which makes them easy to digest. They are also not fermented by bacteria in your intestine so you will not experience flatulence.
Below are examples of lean meats:
- The white meat of chicken
- The white meat of turkey
- Lean cuts of beef such as sirloin, top round, eye round, and bottom round
Fatty portions of meat may contain substances like unhealthy toxins that cause inflammation, so stay away from the dark meat of chicken and turkey as well as marbled cuts of beef. However, some people believe that all types of meats (including the fat) from organically raised animals may actually do your gut bacteria some good.
2. Fish Rich in Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body.
Considering inflammation can likely trigger symptoms of IBS, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could help keep your condition under control.
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Black cod
- Rainbow trout
- Salmon (wild-caught)
Eggs are generally safe for people with IBS because they are relatively easy to digest no matter how they are cooked or prepared. Unfortunately, not everyone responds positively after ingesting all the parts of an egg. You may need to experiment and do some trial and error in order to find out if it’s safe for you to eat egg whites or egg yolks or both.
Nuts contain high amounts of fibre, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. They have the ability to make you feel full after eating them so you won’t be inclined to keep snacking. They also have unsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol. Nuts are beneficial to your gut health, thereby improving your IBS.
Nibbling on any of these nuts is good for your gut:
- Almonds (10 nuts max)
- Brazil nuts
- Hazelnuts (10 nuts max)
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
Taken as a snack or added to other food and drinks, some seeds may have a positive effect on your overall health as well as your IBS condition.
If you experience constipation as a symptom of your IBS, fibre-rich flaxseed and chia seeds may just be what the doctor ordered! These two seeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. (Tip: Ground flaxseed before mixing it with your food or beverage.)
Meanwhile, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are great for snacking as they are low in FODMAPs or Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. FODMAPs may be difficult to digest, particularly by individuals with IBS, and are known to trigger IBS symptoms.
Read more: What causes FODMAP intolerance?
6. Low-FODMAP Vegetables
As you may already know, foods low in FODMAPs are safe for people who have IBS. While some people with IBS find that there are vegetables that aggravate the manifestations of their condition, there are several low-FODMAP vegetables that don’t trigger their symptoms. Moreover, some of these vegetables may be good for your gut microbiota, therefore improving the symptoms of your IBS.
Read more: What are Low FODMAP Foods?
Fortunately, Monash University researchers have identified vegetables that are less likely to contribute to the common symptoms of IBS and have come up with a list of these vegetables (see below).
A good way to start eating vegetables again is by reintroducing small portions of the ones listed below and gradually increasing the amounts and variety moving forward. It may also be better to cook or boil these vegetables first instead of eating them raw.
- Bamboo shoots
- Bell peppers
- Corn (1/2 cob)
- Green beans
- Scallions (only the green parts)
- Sweet potato
- Water chestnut
7. Low-FODMAP Leafy Greens
Leafy greens deserve a separate section on this list because they are chock-full of nutrients and will hardly cause fermentation in your gut.
If you are not sensitive to raw leafy greens, you can turn them into a salad, juice them or mix them into your smoothies. However, if you notice that these options tend to trigger your IBS symptoms, you can try cooking the leaves.
Here’s a list of nutrient-dense leafy greens good for IBS:
- Baby spinach
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Common cabbage
- Swiss chard
8. Low-FODMAP Fruits
Fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your gut flora and may improve your IBS symptoms. Although some fruits, especially those high in FODMAPs, can contribute to symptoms of IBS, the ones listed here may actually do you good if taken in moderate amounts.
- Avocado (only 1/8 of the whole fruit)
- Honeydew melon
- Mandarin oranges
9. Fermented Foods
Fermentation is a process by which carbohydrates in foods are converted into a natural probiotics-rich substance with the help of yeasts and bacteria. Probiotics are healthy microorganisms that enhance digestion and improve your gut flora.
Below are examples of fermented foods and drinks that go well with your meals:
- Fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut
- Yoghurt (without too much sugar)
10. Bone Broth
Homemade bone broths have high nutritional value. They are rich in amino acids that help repair your intestinal lining and improve your intestine’s ability to digest and absorb food.
Sadly, there is not a lot of information on foods that have significant positive effects on IBS, but those mentioned above are all healthful and helpful foods that have little to no negative impact on your existing condition. With a little creativity and resourcefulness in food preparation, you can come up with IBS-friendly meals that are also a treat to eat.
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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, find out how our Gut & Bowel Health services can help you live a healthier life.