Strong science shows that up to 75% of IBS patients get relief of their IBS symptoms on a low FODMAP diet.
Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome? Not sure what to eat?
In the past, nutrition advice for IBS was usually not effective. Many patients were told that food choices had nothing to do with their IBS symptoms, or that their symptoms were all in their heads. If they did get advice about diet, they were told that everyone with IBS should avoid red meat, high fat foods, caffeine and alcohol. It was taught as gospel that patients with IBS should eat more fiber. A high fiber diet is certainly worth a try, considering fiber’s many well-known health benefits. However, if a high fiber diet does not help, or makes your symptoms worse, instead of better, its time to move on.
Today's best IBS treatments revolve around an individualized diet for each person with IBS, the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis. Knowing what we know now, it seems obvious why IBS treatments of the past failed so often!
Of course, appropriate food choices are not the only treatment for IBS, though they are the focus of both this web site and my books. Though other treatments are outside the scope of this website, they are acknowledged here.
Some people do find their IBS symptoms improve with adequate attention to a healthy lifestyle, including stress management, regular mealtimes, adequate fluids, exercise and rest.
Many people find that daily use of a high quality probiotic helps a great deal. (Disclosure: I am a nutrition consultant for VSL#3, a high potency probiotic medical food for the dietary management of IBS. This means I do projects and write materials for the company, such as developing IBS-friendly recipes. I don't sell VSL#3 products, which are available behind the counter at retail pharmacies.)
Gut-directed hypnotherapy is a promising modality for stress management, for retraining the gut-brain axis to work more effectively together, and to experience sensations arising in the gut in a different way.
Physical therapy for effective coordination of pelvic floor muscles can help some people with IBS, especially those with constipation. One can also experiment with toileting posture, such as using blocks or a small stool under the feet to elevate knees to hip level or a little higher.
Drug therapies are available for IBS, including antibiotics, antidepressants, antispasmodics, laxatives, stool softeners, anti-diarrheals, pro-kinetics and pain medications. People with IBS often need fewer medications when their IBS is well managed with diet.