Irritable bowel syndrome causes abdominal pain and discomfort and affects up to 20 percent of the adult population, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Although symptoms vary, constipation is an issue someone with IBS might face. If constipation is one of your IBS symptoms, making changes to your diet may help improve your discomfort and bowel function.
While certain foods can help alleviate your IBS-associated constipation, making a few changes to your usual eating habits is also important. To help improve constipation, do not skip meals, says MedlinePlus. Make it a habit to eat three meals a day, plus snacks, to keep you regular. Also, eliminate processed foods, such as fast food, potato chips and white bread, from your diet. You also need to make sure you get plenty of fluids. Aim for 8 to 10 cups of fluid a day, with most of those fluids coming from water.
Get Your Fiber
Include fiber-rich foods in your diet to improve constipation. Adults need 21 to 38 grams of fiber a day. While fiber in food may help your constipation, it may also cause abdominal discomfort. When increasing fiber in your diet, do so slowly in increments of 2 to 3 grams a day to prevent gas and bloating. High-fiber foods to add to your diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Foods With Friendly Bacteria
Certain types of foods contain friendly bacteria, also known as probiotics, that help repopulate the good bacteria already found in your gut. These friendly bacteria keep your gut healthy and may boost immune health. They may also improve bloating and stool frequency in people suffering from constipation related to IBS, according to a study published in "Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics" in August 2007. When it comes to helping your IBS, look for foods that contain specific strains of good bacteria -- lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium, which you might find in fermented dairy foods like yogurt.
Foods that Help You Go
Adding foods that act as natural laxatives may also improve your IBS constipation. Prunes, for example, are not only a good source of fiber but also contain high amounts of sorbitol, as well as phenolic compounds, that help make you go. Sprinkling flaxseeds in your yogurt or oatmeal may also help. The fiber and mucilage in flaxseeds assists with laxation and eases constipation. Wheat bran, which you can add to soup or baked goods, is effective at increasing fecal bulk, making it easier for you to go.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders: Irritible Bowel Syndrome
- MedlinePlus: Constipation
- Ailimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Effect of a Fermented Milk Containing Bifidobacterium Animalis Dn-173 010 on the Health-Related Quality of Life and Symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Adults in Primary Care: A Multicentre, Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Prebiotics and Probiotics Do
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Chemical Composition and Potential Health Benefits of Prunes: A Functional Food?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Flaxseed
- American Journal of Gastroenterology: The Effect of Bran on Bowel Function in Constipation
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Irritable Bowel Syndrome