Irritable bowel syndrome is called a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, meaning it does not damage the GI tract but does cause symptoms. Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or both constipation and diarrhea. While there is no cure for IBS, certain dietary changes -- which may include eating foods like hummus -- may help manage symptoms.
Diet and IBS
When you have IBS, eating more or less fiber may help alleviate some of your abdominal discomfort and bowel irregularity. If your primary IBS issue is constipation, increasing the fiber in your diet to 20 to 35 grams per day may help. If you're dealing with diarrhea, a low-fiber, low-residue diet is recommended. But soluble fiber, found in foods such as beans, soaks up water in the GI tract and may help alleviate diarrhea.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas, tahini -- a sesame paste -- garlic and lemon. One tablespoon of the savory dip contains 25 calories and almost 1 gram of fiber. As a source of fiber, hummus makes a good food choice for IBS sufferers dealing with constipation. Additionally, both the chickpeas and sesame seeds are a source of soluble fiber, which may help those with diarrhea.
The Downside of Hummus
A low-fat diet is recommended when you have IBS. Hummus is high in fat, although most of that fat comes from healthy unsaturated fats. One tablespoon of hummus contains 1.4 grams of total fat, which provides 50 percent of its calories. If your overall diet is low in fat -- meaning your are not eating fried foods and limiting the amount of added fats such as butter -- hummus can fit into your IBS meal plan. Another drawback is that chickpeas contain oligosaccharides, which are sugar molecules that are difficult to digest and may cause even more gas and bloating. Taking an over-the-counter alpha-galactosidase enzyme may help with the abdominal discomfort.
How to Make Hummus Part of Your Diet
As a spread or a dip, hummus can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. Hummus makes a good sandwich filler or mayonnaise replacement. It is also delicious as a dip with veggies such as carrots, cucumbers or peppers, or as a cracker topper. You can use it in place of butter or sour cream on your baked potato, too. When adding foods high in fiber, such as hummus, to your diet, be sure to do so slowly to reduce abdominal pain, and drink plenty of fluids.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Hummus, Commercial
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- Sharecare: What Is Hummus?
- The Food Network: Hummus Recipe
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Harvard Medical School: Recipe for Health, Cheap, Nutritious Beans