Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine. Common IBS symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. There is no currently no cure for IBS, but it remains a non life-threatening disorder. For many people living with IBS, consuming healthy snacks regularly can help minimize painful symptoms associated with the disease.
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Fiber and IBS
Consuming dietary fiber regularly may support intestinal health for individuals living with IBS. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that soluble and insoluble fiber may reduce frequent bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Fiber may also relieve common painful symptoms such as bloating, cramping and gas. Both types of dietary fiber are found in a variety of foods that can be eaten as snacks throughout your day.
Nutritious snacks that provide fiber and are low in sugar and fat may be consumed regularly if you suffer from IBS. A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables provide sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples include apples, berries, melons, tomatoes and carrots. Canned and packaged fruits and vegetables may also be consumed, but choose the ones with less syrup and sugar. Fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed by themselves or in soups and salads. Low-fat yogurt is another snack that may be consumed on an IBS diet. Yogurt provides protein and nutrients and can also be topped with fresh fruit. High-fiber grains and cereals can also be enjoyed as a snack in between meals. Some examples include oatmeal, sourdough bread, quinoa, whole-grain rolls and brown rice. You may also enjoy a variety of low-fat chips and crackers, such as graham crackers, rice crackers, baked chips, pretzels or fat-free saltine crackers. For protein, grilled chicken, turkey and egg whites can be added. Almonds and other nuts may also be consumed if tolerated.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends drinking six to eight glasses of plain water daily. Other acceptable beverages include mineral water, unsweetened juices, decaffeinated tea, peppermint tea, rice milk and soy beverages. Carbonated beverages or high-sugar drinks may increase bloating and gas and should be limited. Alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine should also be avoided.
Eat your snacks slowly and drink your beverages before or after eating rather than during meals to prevent gas. New fiber foods should be introduced to your diet slowly to prevent any further complications. You may be able to tolerate new foods if you consume them gradually at first. When preparing your meals, use less salt and cook with unsaturated oils. Check with your physician or a registered dietitian for a full list of healthy snacks and guidelines for your condition.