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A close-up of a person with irritable bowel syndrome grasping their stomach with both hands.

Certain Foods Trigger IBS

March 08, 2018

For many irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers, eating certain foods can trigger abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or bloating. Identifying, limiting, or eliminating offending foods can help provide relief in some cases.

Greg Galler, MD, a board-certified specialist in gastroenterology, pinpoints which foods to monitor if you suffer from IBS and recommends keeping a food diary to track which ones lead to discomfort.

Though the exact cause of IBS has been rather difficult to pinpoint, certain foods which may worsen symptoms include:

  • Foods high in sugar content
  • Fatty foods
  • Gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage and broccoli
  • Caffeine in excessive amounts
  • Alcohol
  • Wheat, rye, or barley

IBS isn’t life-threatening, but the symptoms can interfere with one’s quality of life. Dietary changes may prove beneficial. However, since IBS varies from one person to another, there’s no specific diet that can be recommended for everyone.

“I suggest keeping a diary and recording what is eaten, along with any adverse symptoms associated with specific foods,” says Dr. Galler. “Be careful not to eliminate a food too quickly, as there could be a combination of factors causing the gastrointestinal distress. I also recommend that IBS sufferers schedule a medical evaluation with a gastroenterologist and bring their food diary with them.”

Together, doctor and patient can identify foods that worsen symptoms, form a plan to avoid the offending foods and, if necessary, plan for additional medical treatment or prescription medication.

Portrait of Greg Galler, MD, Gastroenterology specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

About the Author

Dr. Greg Galler is a gastroenterologist at Kelsey-Seybold's Main Campus and Tanglewood Clinic. "I believe in giving patients individualized, personal care. I also believe in offering patients additional services and information that they would not normally receive, specifically regarding research studies and the new information and medical advancements that those studies can offer."
Dr. Adesina from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic

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