Irritable Bowel Syndrome - 10 Foods to Avoid

Irritable Bowel Syndrome - 10 Foods to Avoid

There are several common medical conditions which many people have but only a few people talk and actually know about them. One of those conditions is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which mainly affects the large intestine and quite problematic to live with.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a digestive disorder or can be classified as a functional bowel disorder which means that the digestive system is malfunctioning. The individual with IBS may experience a recurrent period of abdominal pain and problem with bowel movement.

People with IBS also experience urgent diarrhea episodes or even opposite condition i.e. chronic constipation. Women are twice likely to get IBS as compared to men. Symptoms may also vary from person to person. Most of the people can control their symptoms by managing diet and lifestyle, while only a small number of people would experience severe signs and symptoms.

Many people find their symptoms such as diarrhea, intensified when they consume specific foods and when they avoid these foods, the symptoms don't occur or lessened to some extent. So what are those foods? Let’s find out.

Foods to Avoid

1. Insoluble Fiber

Fiber intake is a key step to counter IBS but which fiber, soluble or insoluble? While soluble is a rough diet and does not dissolve in water, insoluble is soothing to the digestive tract. It is important to note that insoluble fiber might relieve you from constipation; it can also make you feel bloated.

Whole grain bread and cereals, skins of fruits and vegetables and beans are some of the examples of insoluble fiber foods.

Tip - Foods that are naturally high in soluble fiber are oatmeal, rice, pasta, potatoes, barley, soy, peas, carrot, mango, grapefruit and oranges.

2. Dairy Products

Though dairy foods contain good amount of protein and calcium; they are notorious for two reasons; being high in fat and high in lactose. High-fat content can increase diarrhea while people who are lactose intolerant will experience gas, bloating, cramps and even diarrhea.

Tip - Add rice milk, almond milk, soy milk to your diet. There are also lactose-free dairy products in the market which gives almost same benefits.

3. Fried Foods

Fried foods such as french fries have high-fat content and can be difficult for the digestive system. So moderation is needed when consuming these kinds of food.

Tip - If you really want to have french fries or similar stuff, then try to make it yourself by grilling and baking them until they are brown in color.

4. Processed Foods

Today we want everything at our fingertips and readymade. Only a few of us care about organic. So its natural we don’t give a second thought what’s there in the processed foods we are eating. These foods contain preservatives or additives that might trigger IBS symptoms. Some of the examples are chips, cookies and premade frozen meals.

Tip - Consider eating foods that are made fresh.

5. Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, teas, energy drinks and sodas acts as triggers for IBS patients. These drinks have stimulating effects on the intestine that may worsen your diarrhea. Additionally, these drinks have a diuretic effect that may increase dehydration caused by diarrhea.

Tip - If you really need an energy boost, have a small snack or go for a short walk for relief in constipation.

6. Sugar-free Sweeteners

Many products contain artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, saccharin, and sucralose that can trigger diarrhea and flatulence in many people. Even these types of sugars are not good for a healthy digestive system.

Tip - Consume fresh fruit juices. Read the labels detailing the ingredients before consuming sugar-free products.

7. Beans

Beans are high in both fiber and protein and might be heavy for people with IBS. Though beans have many nutritional benefits and it aids in constipation, people with IBS can experience gas, bloating and cramps.

Tip - You can have rice, oats, and tapioca which are a good substitute to beans right to some extent.

8. Spicy Foods

Spicing up foods suits taste buds of many of us. But the heat these spicy foods generate can cause utter discomfort, creating heartburn and even indigestion.

Tip - If you suffering from IBS, limit the number of spices in your food else, your stomach will revolt against you.

9. Alcohol

Alcohol is an infamous trigger for IBS. Beer, for example, is a risky drink while wines and other mixed drinks contain sugar. Apart from this, alcohol is also dehydrating which can affect digestive process.

Tip - You can opt for cocktails made with tonic water or juice. But if you are trying to eliminate the symptoms of IBS altogether, staying away from alcohol is a wise choice.

10. Cruciferous Vegetables

These vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. If you are the one with irritable bowel syndrome, these vegetables can cause gas and bloating.

Tip - If you are really interested in eating broccoli, don’t eat it raw. Try cooking it or the better option is steaming. Carrots and sweet potatoes are great substitutes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be frustrating for some people, in most of the cases, it can be self-managed and doesn’t need any kind of medical treatment. If you are unable to manage yourself, consult with the gastroenterologist who specializes in stomach diseases. He can formulate a good dietary program for you.


1. Gastrointestinal tolerance of low FODMAP oral nutrition supplements in healthy human subjects: a randomized controlled trial(2017) read more
2. Foods to choose if you have mixed irritable bowel syndrome. (n.d.). read more
3. Portincasa P, et al. (2017). The role of dietary approach in irritable bowel syndrome [Abstract].
read more