Best Foods for IBS

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 Bell 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.

36 thoughts on “Best Foods for IBS”

  1. Thanks Ladies, this list is great. I will try and eat one of these b4 my meal and see if there is a difference. I will certainly try salad again.

  2. Wow – not a really appealing diet. Peraonally I feel, after over 10 years of research and testing, there are really few trigger foods. I have IBS-D. Every day is a difficult but food makes little difference. Visceral hypersensitivity and emotional stress is commom with IBS, and I feel is sctive in over 75% of IBSers. Visceral hypersensivity with its overactive pelvic floor action is a big problem in our condition.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Nick. Kathy and I agree with you about emotional stress contributing to visceral hypersensitivity, which is why we’re big advocates of tapping to relieve stress and trauma. (And why we developed the No IBS Program.) But, frankly, it’s often hard to get people on board with this. I’ve worked with people who can pretty much eat whatever they want once they get their stress and trauma triggers under control, but it can be challenging for them to do that and involves a high level of emotional commitment to themselves.
    PubMed shows an increasing number of medical studies that link stress and trauma to IBS, so it would seem obvious that the way to treat (most) chronic IBS would be by addressing those two factors, rather than searching for the “perfect” diet (doesn’t exist.)
    BTW, I’m not saying this is a list of the ONLY foods for IBS, just ones that are supposed to help make digestion easier.

  4. Latricia Harris

    I purchased a bottle of RezVera it suppose to help with IBS, gas, bloating, constipation and support good bowel health. It helps with gas,but the constipation is worst. I even brought a bottle of magnesium to help with constipation NO No luck…. Do u have any suggestions, sometimes it feel like I am about to have a heart attack I don’t know what to do any more. I am so unhappy due to my condition. Help ?

  5. Hi Latricia,
    Kathy and I discussed your question. In terms of our information, the thing that would probably help you the most is our ebook “Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: 3 Crucial Secrets.” It is WAY less expensive than a bottle of RezVera and is the same information we use with private clients to help them overcome their symptoms, including constipation. You’ll find it on the Products page. In particular, check out the section on tapping, and look at where you’re stuck in your life or perhaps holding onto old beliefs that no longer serve you. Make sure to tap on those, and tap on your physical symptoms as well. People are often surprised at how effective this can be.
    BTW, all the information in the book works together, so please use the other sections as well and keep us posted on how it goes.

  6. Latricia Harris

    Hi Kathy, I want to know what can I eat maybe sunflower seeds, almonds and coconut ice cream. I am having a hard time finding things to eat and drink. I have been drinking almond milk and home made lemon aid with stevia any other suggestions.

  7. Thanks for this.
    But why not create a list for people with diarrhea and one for constipation?
    It would really help.
    Thank you.

  8. Interesting. For some people, it’s more the dairy and grain component that is the problem. But this is the challenge of all IBS diets and foods for IBS – there’s no single way to eat that works for all people. I think this is part of the reason IBS is such a frustrating condition. You have to really listen to your own body and find out what works best for you.
    And I would add that there can be underlying stress and trauma that can affect digestion as well.

  9. Thank you so much for the list of foods that are good for me. I have eliminated so much that I lose interest in eating because there is nothing left to eat LOL.Your website has wonderful information. May I sugest that you include your website address in your mailing so that people can find you easily. There is so much to learn, but you provide much help. Thank you. Tapping has helped me deal with anxiety.

  10. Hi Edie,Thank you for your comment and your kind words! Also for your suggestion. Kathy and I appreciate knowing that you are finding the site helpful.

  11. I love bananas but stopped eating them as my colonic therapist told me they were likely to cause me constipation. I’ve also had to stop eating apples as I get terrible cramps, even sometimes when peeled beforehand (I never used to be this sensitive so I’m wondering what has made me worse)I also eat a lot of hummus (most days) which I make myself, it doesn’t make me windy thoughI gave up milk, dairy and most things containing sugar for over a month but noticed no difference in being able to go to the toilet. I pretty much live on salad, vegetables, meat, cheese and fish. I do have a sweet tooth mind but most stick to good quality dark chocolate and v rarely eat milk chocolate or biscuits. I very rarely eat anything processed. I’ve given up caffeine, apart from green tea and now just drink water or peppermint tea or Roibos. I think I could cut down on red meat somewhat and do so whenever I feel I’ve indulged too much. The lady I go to see for my colonics has some herbal pills that I buy from her, they are a concoction of plants and herbs. If I did not take those I would never go to the toilet. The only other way I can go is if I become very excited about something. I can’t remember the last food I ate that helped me go to the toilet. I’ve recently started tapping and have noticed some dramatic results, just from doing it myself. I am going to continue with this as my main focus for improving my IBS as I really don’t believe it has anything to do with what I eat – and that’s what my gut is telling me!I would recommend it to anyone with IBS and any underlying emotional issues.

  12. Very interesting comments, Joanna.Your observation about the tapping is exactly why Kathy and I developed the No IBS Program. As you know from our website, IBS can be one of the consequences of trauma. The tapping helps to neutralize that so the nervous system can calm down and stop speeding up or slowing down your digestive tract (amongst other positive changes reported by clients.)I worked with one woman with IBS-C who only did tapping and didn’t change her diet at all. After neutralizing some major life issues with tapping, she was able to take a 3-week trip to the Mediterranean, where she ate whatever she wanted and was fine. Before, she could barely leave the house. For her, the tapping made all the difference. I’m glad to hear that you, too, have had dramatic results with tapping!Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  13. I love all the foods on that list, except for the parsnips. I know chocolate and ice cream, especially, are not good for me. I do eat a piece of good dark chocolate once in awhile to satisfy my craving. I know enough to stop at one piece. I never buy ice cream to keep at home, and once in awhile, especially in the summer, will splurge & have some out with family or friends. I stopped eating store bought yogurt, and feeling better since. I do take a pill form of probiotics. Thank you again for the suggestions.

  14. 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.)

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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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