Many people with IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, have to suffer and pay the price when trying to eat healthier by including more vegetables into their diet. Unfortunately, many vegetables contain short-chain fermentable carbohydrates, such as fructose, fructans, sorbitol and mannitol. These can trigger your IBS symptoms and result in constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, abdominal discomfort, pain and cramping.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are rich in fructans, a molecule made of a chain of fructose ending with a molecule of glucose. It is poorly absorbed in many people and can contribute to your IBS symptoms. Avoid any foods containing onions of any kind as well as garlic. Read labels, because many processed foods, including tomato sauce, vegetable juice and frozen entrees may contain small amounts of onion. Onion powder and broth and sauces made with onions or garlic should also be avoided.
Broccoli is a very nutritious vegetable, but it is rich in fructans. If you have trouble with fructan-containing foods, stay away from broccoli for a little while. After relieving your IBS symptoms, you may try reintroducing small amounts of broccoli to determine whether your tolerance has improved.
Brussels sprouts are rich in fructans, which can be fermented by the bacteria in your intestines, resulting in abdominal discomfort. Although many are happy to eliminate this vegetable, if you enjoy Brussels sprouts, you can try reintroducing them in small amounts after a few weeks.
Asparagus has a high fructose content compared to other vegetables, as well as containing fructans. Both fructans and fructose could cause your IBS symptoms. Try eliminating them for a few weeks to see if you feel better.
Like asparagus, artichoke contains both an excess of fructose and high levels of fructans. Skip the artichoke and your tummy will thank you.
Cauliflower contains a type of sugar-alcohol, or polyol, called mannitol. The mannitol is poorly absorbed in many people diagnosed with IBS, and avoiding foods containing mannitol can help alleviate your symptoms.
Mannitol is found in high amounts in mushrooms, so they should be avoided, at least for a period of time, if you have IBS. Once you have restored your health and feel good again, try reintroducing small amounts of mushrooms to see if mushrooms were really part of the problem.
Snow peas and sugar snap peas contain fructose and mannitol, two problematic short-chain fermentable carbohydrates for IBS sufferers.
Sweet potatoes are often recommended as healthier alternatives to white potatoes, but, unfortunately, sweet potatoes contain mannitol. An amount smaller than 1/2 cup is unlikely to pose problems, but a larger serving could be responsible for IBS symptoms.
Avocado is not a vegetable, but rather a fruit. However, most people eat it as a vegetable. Avocado contains significant amounts of sorbitol. Some IBS sufferers can tolerate small amounts of avocado, but if you are really sensitive, any traces of avocado can send you running to the bathroom.
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Fructose Malabsorption and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Guidelines for Effective Dietary Management; Susan J. Shepherd and Peter R. Gibson; October 2006
- "Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology"; Evidence-Based Dietary Management of Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms: The FODMAP Approach; Peter R. Gibson and Susan J. Shepherd; October 2009
- International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders; Statistics; August 2009
- "IBS -- Free at Last!"; Patsy Catsos; 2009