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Your relationship with food may be a complicated one, but if you are part of the 10 percent of Americans with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) the struggle is real.

“Those who suffer from IBS know that certain foods can trigger stomach pain, bloating and changes in bowel movement,” Dr. Le-Chu Su, gastroenterologist at UCF Health, said. “Because trigger foods can vary between patients, there’s not one list of off-limit foods.”

However, by avoiding some of the most common trigger foods for IBS symptoms, you may notice less cramping and more bowel movement regularity.

  • Gluten – Having a gluten-free diet is all the rage right now, but not for the right reasons. Aside from having an allergy to wheat or celiac disease, there is no scientific reason to eliminate gluten from your diet. For those who do need a gluten-free diet, the good thing about the gluten-free craze is that there are many gluten-free options available in most grocery stores.
  • Dairy – It is common for IBS patients to also be lactose intolerant. If you are lactose intolerant it is advised to avoid milk, cheese and other dairy foods. But be careful, lactose has a sneaky way of creeping into foods you wouldn’t typically label as “dairy,” such as salad dressings and artificial sweeteners. Read labels to double check what you are eating. Some red flags to look for are whey, caseinates and nougat.
  • Fried foods – Fatty foods are also a common trigger for those with IBS. But this doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods. Instead, try healthier cooking methods, such as baking or grilling which cuts out excess fat.
  • Coffee – Some people swear by their morning coffee for keeping regular. But it has a stimulating effects on the intestines, which can cause diarrhea in some IBS patients. Try to sustain your energy levels by eating more leafy greens, salmon and nuts.

If you have GI concerns, take note of the foods you eat before experiencing symptoms and then talk with your doctor. He or she can provide guidance before you make major dietary modifications. When adopting diets that eliminate food groups, you can put yourself at risk for malnutrition and put your health in danger. So be sure to consult your physician.


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