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There seems to be a lot of disagreement about the best foods for IBS. The one consistent piece of advice is to eat foods containing soluble fibre.

Why is soluble fiber important? Because, when you eat it first, at the beginning of your meal, it “pre-conditions” the bowel by forming a kind of thick gel that bulks up in the intestines, giving them something to work with. This will slow down your transit time if you’re prone to diarrhea, or help to move things along if you suffer from constipation.

HOWEVER! You need to be a bit careful about your sources of soluble fiber. I’ve read nutritionists who recommend legumes such as kidney beans, soy beans, chick peas, etc. as a good source of soluble fiber for people with IBS. I find this a bit strange, as we all know that legumes are notorious “fart foods” and are hard to digest even for people who don’t have digestive problems.

Legumes contain a sugar called raffinose. It’s the same sugar that’s in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, which is why they are hard for IBS people to eat. To be digested, raffinose requires a specific enzyme not made by the human body.

Biochemist Robb Wolf of Paleo fame, says that legumes can damage the intestinal wall just as grains and gluten do. When food molecules get through your intestine and into your bloodstream, your body mounts an attack on them which provokes auto-immune conditions such as allergies, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and other health problems. Apparently, legumes also block the absorption of several vitamins and minerals.

Not so good.

I also see yogurt being touted as a good food for IBS because of the supposed probiotic effect. However, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who developed the GAPS diet and has helped thousands of patients heal from digestive problems, says that store-bought yogurt is not cultured long enough to create the kind of probiotics that actually do anything useful in your gut.

Her recommendation is to make your own yogurt, preferably from organic milk. Fermenting milk into yogurt makes it into a live food (whereas pasteurized milk is a dead food, having been heated to the point where all the enzymes that would help you digest it have been killed.)

One more caveat before we get to the list of best foods for IBS.

Even though the foods listed below are typically good for people with IBS, some of them might not agree with YOU. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, you need to take that into consideration.

10 of the Best Foods for IBS:

1) Bananas. A standby for many people with IBS.

2) Peeled apples – Caution: if you have trouble with fructose or other sweeteners, apples may not be for you.

3) White rice. Although brown rice is considered nutritionally better than white rice, it contains insoluble fiber which can be a problem for people with diarrhea.

4) Squash and Pumpkin. Organic squash makes a great dessert! Sprinkle it with cinnamon before baking. If you tolerate olive oil, you can rub the flesh of the squash with a bit of oil before sprinkling on the cinnamon.

5) Carrots and Parsnips. Try them boiled until soft then mashed together.

6) Lean Protein. Protein is a vital nutrient. Try skinless chicken, or white fish such as sole. Flavour with herbs such as ground rosemary and marjoram, lemon, a touch of sea salt.

Why does it have to be lean?

The fat attached to protein stimulates the production of a hormone called cholecystokin. This hormone makes the bowel go into contractions, so if you’re prone to diarrhea, that will speed things up even more. If you have constipation, you might be okay, OR this may be a source of abdominal cramps for you. So lean proteins are the safer choice.

7) Chestnuts. Cut a line or an X in the shells (to keep them from bursting), then put them on a cookie pan and roast them in the oven at 425F for between 10 and 30 minutes depending on how well-cooked you like them (more cooked tends to be a bit drier.) Stir them around or shake the pan every so often to make sure they don't burn on one side.

8) Oatmeal. Try it with banana cooked into it and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You won’t need additional sweeteners.

9) Sweet Potatoes. Good source of antioxidants, Vitamin A, beta carotene, B vitamins, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc.

10) Beets. Good for cardiovascular health.

With the exception of the lean proteins, all the foods on this list are sources of soluble fiber, so remember to eat them at the beginning of your meal. You may find that, once the soluble fiber is in your gut, you may be able to eat salad at the end of the meal. But proceed with caution if you are prone to diarrhea.

That’s our list of the best foods for IBS. Please leave a comment about the foods that work best for you.

 

More help for IBS:

Hi. We are Karen Alison and Kathy Raymond and we help people self-heal their IBS naturally, with a doctor-recommended method that addresses the least-recognized aspect of this hellish condition – the way the brain triggers uncontrollable symptoms in the gut.

IBS is a lot like having PTSD (also once believed to be untreatable) because of the way it triggers your autonomic nervous system to produce symptoms. But, in a few short sessions, you can learn how to retrain your brain so you shut down the neural pathways that lead straight to diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and anxiety.

If you don’t deal with this underlying root cause of your problem, you’ll have to spend the rest of your life at the mercy of your Irritable Bowel… and it usually gets worse.

But you can make it stop NOW. Just click on this link for more information and follow the instructions to access the program.

 

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Comments (26)

  1. Karen of No-IBS

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for your comments. While it's true that what we eat creates our cells and therefore our state of health, at the same time, with chronic IBS, there is often a stress or trauma component where the brain activates the digestive...

Hi Marvin,
Thanks for your comments. While it's true that what we eat creates our cells and therefore our state of health, at the same time, with chronic IBS, there is often a stress or trauma component where the brain activates the digestive system out of a mistaken impulse to "protect" you from harm. This is what we address in the No IBS Program, and is a frequently unrecognized aspect of IBS. I think people with IBS often search in vain for the "correct" diet when really what they need to do is switch off the brain triggers that cause the digestive symptoms. It's a somewhat complex but very real response in the body yet most of us believe that the answer lies in food. Some of the answer lies in food. But for people who have tried every diet and still can't find the "right" foods, often they need to deal with this other side of IBS. That's why Kathy and I are such big fans of EFT Tapping. It seems to work to re-route the brain response to stress and stop the digestive system from being triggered into symptoms.

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  1. Marvin

Food checklist is the key towards a better life with IBS. I always believe on that. As they said, you are what you eat. One of your list as best for IBS is one of my top 3 trigger foods. As sweet as its name but sweat potato really is a total bummer.

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  1. Helene

I agree, creating two food listings...one for IBS-D and one for IBS-C would be so helpful. Everyone is different but at least it could provide a base to choose from. I have IBS-D & have dealt with this curse since childhood. Your website and...

I agree, creating two food listings...one for IBS-D and one for IBS-C would be so helpful. Everyone is different but at least it could provide a base to choose from. I have IBS-D & have dealt with this curse since childhood. Your website and blogs are so incredibly helpful. Than you so much for all the helpful suggestions. I miss having salads & other greens like kale but am going to try eating greens after a meal. Europeans eat salad after dinner!

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  1. Wendy

beets and white rice are on my menu... I always feel nourished by them too no matter how simply they're prepared...Thank you for all the research you put into your articles to keep us on top of our gut issues... It's such a relief not to have...

beets and white rice are on my menu... I always feel nourished by them too no matter how simply they're prepared...Thank you for all the research you put into your articles to keep us on top of our gut issues... It's such a relief not to have tummy pains

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Paul,
Good question. Why ARE we drinking the milk of another animal? The ratios of nutrients in cow's milk are quite different from the ratios in human milk.

Some experts (Sally Fallon for one) say that making yogurt out of pasteurized milk...

Hi Paul,
Good question. Why ARE we drinking the milk of another animal? The ratios of nutrients in cow's milk are quite different from the ratios in human milk.

Some experts (Sally Fallon for one) say that making yogurt out of pasteurized milk makes it a live food again. Other folks, like Jill Ciciarelli, suggest using milk that has been pasteurized but not homogenized to make yogurt.

Cow's milk is the top food allergen and is often a big problem for people with IBS to digest. So you'll have to make your own decision based on what you find your body can handle.

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  1. Paul Pinel

It is stated here that pasteurized cows mild is no good because it kills the enzymes. The enzymes that are in the cows mils is actually meant for cows and not humans. By raising the heat to 180 F. the enzymes that are meant for a calf are...

It is stated here that pasteurized cows mild is no good because it kills the enzymes. The enzymes that are in the cows mils is actually meant for cows and not humans. By raising the heat to 180 F. the enzymes that are meant for a calf are destroyed. You then add the enzymes and bacteria to the milk medium to create those enzymes that are supposed to be good for you. We seem to be at odds here and would like an explanation. In the end, why are we drinking the milk of another animal anyway?

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Sorry, that might have been a bit confusing. The bone broths are for protein and minerals, not for soluble fiber.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Maude,
As I mentioned in the article, not all these foods may agree with you. For example, if you react to grains, instead of white rice, you could take a soluble fiber supplement at the beginning of meals. Look for one that contains acacia,...

Hi Maude,
As I mentioned in the article, not all these foods may agree with you. For example, if you react to grains, instead of white rice, you could take a soluble fiber supplement at the beginning of meals. Look for one that contains acacia, as it is supposed to be the easiest on your digestive tract.

Bone broths are also good.

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  1. Maude

Look forward to the tips you send in emails. Have had GI problems (UC) for most of my life.
The BEST FOOD LIST will be posted on my fridge.

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  1. Karen of No IBS

Hi Myrna,

It's too bad about the yogurt, isn't it - especially as so many experts say it is supposed to be a healthy food. But not all foods work for all people and cow dairy is so often a problem for people with IBS. I have read that if you...

Hi Myrna,

It's too bad about the yogurt, isn't it - especially as so many experts say it is supposed to be a healthy food. But not all foods work for all people and cow dairy is so often a problem for people with IBS. I have read that if you make your own yogurt and really ferment it a long time, it might work, but I have not tried this (too lazy and don't do well on dairy anyway.)

Rob Wolff, biochemist and author of The Paleo Solution, says that the problem with dairy is "gut irritation, protease inhibitors, antinutrients, and inflammation." Clearly not good for your health!

If you like ice cream and you're okay with coconut, you might try the non-dairy "ice cream" called Coconut Bliss. It is delicious and contains no dairy or white sugar (they use agave syrup for sweetener.)

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