Between 10 and 20 percent of the American population has irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, at some time, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms generally include cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, gas and constipation. Although the cause is not well-understood and IBS does not have a cure, diet plays a major role in both the development and the control of IBS.
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Eating foods high in dietary fiber may help improve constipation symptoms if you have IBS. University of Maryland Medical Center recommends including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. If gas is a problem, limit or avoid apple juice, grape juice, bananas, nuts, raisins and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Eliminate fiber-deficient refined foods, such as white breads, pastas and sugar, from your diet.
Eat fewer high-fat red meats; instead, eat low-fat lean meats, coldwater fish -- such as salmon, tuna or sardines -- tofu or beans as your protein source. High-fat meals and snacks can irritate your colon, are hard to digest and are better tolerated when eaten in small amounts, according to University of North Carolina's Student Health Services. If you eat dairy, stick to low-fat or fat-free foods instead of whole-fat dairy products.
Mild or Soothing Foods
Adding "heat" to certain foods is a traditional way to spice up a meal, but it can cause discomfort for those experiencing IBS. Instead, flavor foods with digestion-friendly herbs such as fennel, mint and caraway. You may not have to eliminate your favorite spicy foods forever, but it's important that you identify those foods that cause you problems. Limit or avoid foods that contain potential triggers, such as hot sauce, spicy barbecue sauce, chili powder, hot chili peppers, garlic, curry or ginger.
Although certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms in some people, they may be fine for others. Keeping a food journal is a good way to find which foods are your specific triggers so you can eliminate them from your diet. In general, additional foods that may trigger IBS symptoms include milk products, drinks containing alcohol or caffeine, processed foods and artificially sweetened drinks.