Irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorder, is a chronic condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of Americans. IBS usually begins in the late teens and early 20s and symptoms are present for at least three months before the diagnosis is made. Symptoms include abdominal pain, gas and bloating. To reduce bloating, reduce certain gas-producing foods in your diet, including lettuce.
IBS-related abdominal discomfort features two of the following three features: pain that is relieved with defecation; pain associated with a change in stool frequency; and pain associated with a change in the form of your stool. Other symptoms supporting the diagnosis include the passage of mucus in your stool, as well as bloating or a feeling of abdominal distention, according to a 2009 issue of "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment."
To date, the cause of IBS, if one exists, remains a mystery. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, colon sensitivity and a dysfunctional immune system may play a part. Avoiding certain foods is helpful in reducing symptom frequency and severity. These include caffeine, alcohol, foods high in fat and foods high in insoluble fiber, according to the website Help For IBS. Like fat, insoluble fiber stimulates colon contractions and may lead to painful spasms that characterize IBS.
Like most vegetables, lettuce contains a mixture of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water into your gastrointestinal tract and may reduce the severity of IBS by increasing the diameter of your colon, which prevents spasms. However, due to the insoluble fiber it contains, lettuce is one of the foods noted to aggravate IBS, along with many other fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.
As fiber is an essential part of the diet, if you suffer IBS, any efforts to exclude nutritious foods such as lettuce from your diet may leave your diet sorely lacking. Help For IBS advises to never eat foods with insoluble fiber alone or on an empty stomach. In other words, enjoy lettuce, but eat salads at the end of a soluble fiber meal, rather than at the beginning.
Most people with IBS can manage their condition with dietary modifications and stress reduction. Additionally, you may require medications such as laxatives and anti-diarrhea medicines. However, it is important to rule out more serious diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. If you notice blood in your stool, or if symptoms fail to respond to lifestyle modifications, consult your health professional.
- "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment"; Stephen J. McPhee; 2009
- MayoClinic.com: Gas and Gas pains
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- HelpForIBS.com: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet & IBS Recipes
- HelpForIBS.com: Insoluble Fiber - Good or Bad for IBS?
- Colorado State University: Dietary Fiber