Targeting troublesome foods will help irritable bowel
DEAR DOCTOR K:
I recently heard about a new diet to manage IBS. Can you tell me about it?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder. Symptoms include cramping, diarrhea, gas and bloating.
A common treatment approach is to avoid foods that trigger symptoms. A new diet for IBS targets and eliminates certain types of carbohydrates the small intestine has trouble absorbing. We'll call it the "IBS diet," even though its official name is the "low FODMAP diet." (Please don't ask what "FODMAP" stands for; you don't want to know, and I don't want to try to remember.)
Research suggests that the carbohydrates excluded from the IBS diet increase the amount of fluid in the bowel and create more gas. This leads to bloating and changes the speed at which food is digested. The result is gas, pain and diarrhea.
To follow the IBS diet, eat less of these foods:
-- Dairy: cow's milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese
-- Fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, nectarines, pears, peaches, cherries, mangoes and watermelon
-- Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, onions and snow peas
-- Grains: wheat and rye
-- Added fiber
-- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy products
-- High-fructose corn syrup
-- Sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar; sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt found in sugar-free gum and mints
Eat more of these foods:
-- Dairy: lactose-free milk; rice, almond and coconut milk; lactose-free yogurt; hard cheeses -- Fruit: bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges and strawberries
-- Vegetables: bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, olives, parsnips, potatoes, spring onions and turnips
-- Protein: beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and tofu
-- Nuts/seeds: almonds, macadamia, peanuts, pine nuts and walnuts
-- Grains: oat, oat bran, rice bran, gluten-free pasta, white rice, corn flour and quinoa
Don't misunderstand me. Not all of the foods I advise you to eat less of will negatively affect your IBS. And eating only the foods I advise you to eat more of won't guarantee you freedom from IBS. But they are a good place to start in reducing the symptoms of IBS.
My advice is to limit only those foods that are problematic for you. You can determine which ones to avoid by eliminating all foods from the "eat less" list from your diet. Then reintroduce one food at a time, noting whether it worsens your symptoms. If not, add it back to your diet.
We have more information on IBS in our Special Health Report, "The Sensitive Gut." (Learn more about this report at AskDoctorK.com, or call 877-649-9457 toll-free to order it.)
(Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com, or write: Ask Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115.)
** ** **
COPYRIGHT 2012 THE PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE
DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL UCLICK FOR UFS