Irritable Bowel Pain and the Secret of Apples

Apples are a great food for IBS, once you know their secret. They may even help to relieve irritable bowel pain.

Here’s why…

…Apple flesh is full of soluble fibre. That’s the fiber that dissolves in water to form a gel. It bulks up in your intestines to help create nice regular contractions, instead of those painful spasms that hurt so much. This is why applesauce is often recommended for people with IBS.

But apples have another side to them that’s not so helpful. Their skin is full of insoluble fiber – that’s the part of them you can’t digest. Insoluble fiber acts like a broom sweeping out your intestines, which is hard for the sensitive IBS digestive system to cope with, especially if you’re prone to diarrhea.

So to avoid causing irritable bowel pain, the big secret to apples is: PEEL them before eating. And if you still have trouble, cooking will break down the fiber even further, making your apples easier to digest. (Applesauce, anyone?)

Of course, apples alone are not enough to control your symptoms because IBS is a complex condition. But there are answers that work.

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 your autonomic nervous system is triggered into producing 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.

Join the discussion… 

We’d love to hear more about your experience with IBS – and with apples! Join the discussion and leave a comment below (your email will not show) and click on the Share button to share this article with your friends.

79 thoughts on “Irritable Bowel Pain and the Secret of Apples”

  1. This has been a priceless piece of advice for me! I used to always eat a whole apple (with skin) before bed because I knew that the apple seemed to help me have a BM in the morning. But that was so undependable. I have since switched to applesauce with a dash of cinammon thrown in at night and voila! Works great!

  2. I cant seem to eat apple whether cooked, peeled or not. It’s like they ferment in my stomach and the outcome is not pleasant. Any ideas on this ???

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    There are several possibilities. You might be allergic to apples or have an intolerance to them. Are you eating them with other foods or alone? Fruit often digests better if you eat it by itself 30 minutes before or 2 hours after other foods. Eating fruit with starchy foods can cause problems and is considered poor food combining. If you have a candida overgrowth, the apples may be a trigger for the yeast (because of the fruit sugar. Also the apple peel sometimes is slightly mouldy) which will contribute to digestive problems. You might be sensitive to fructose. You could google the FODMAP diet and see if that information applies to you.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Fiber, both types, are not unique to apples. Apples are a fruit with a very high fructose to sucrose ratio. If you have a problem with fructose you will suffer with apples. Look up FODMAP diet for more info on types of carbs that cause ibs distress.

  5. Apples,
    I used to have severe acid reflux .It was so bad that I had to prop my head up every night.Sometimes the taste was so bitter,it seems like my tounge was soaked in acid.It got to the stage where I was having severe and constant sore throat. I tried just about everything ,until I heard about Red delicious apples.I started eating one smsll red delicious apple every night (just before bedtime)with the skin,because its in the skin the real effect lies.I,m happy to say it worked well for me.its been a while now since I had acid reflux bothering me at nights.

  6. This is a great piece of advice!
    I am managing my IBS very well now, by eliminating the triggers (In my case MILK and all MILK PRODUCTS!!)
    I have found apples (peeled) a great digestive calmer and they really do help if I have day when my IBS flares up a bit!!
    I had a rogue and naughty chocolate digestive biscuit 2 weeks ago and guess what…within hours back came the tummy ache & diarrhoea….it was APPLE that calmed and helped
    Love
    Bronda UK

  7. [quote name=”BRONDA UK”]This is a great piece of advice!
    I am managing my IBS very well now, by eliminating the triggers (In my case MILK and all MILK PRODUCTS!!)
    I have found apples (peeled) a great digestive calmer and they really do help if I have day when my IBS flares up a bit!!
    I had a rogue and naughty chocolate digestive biscuit 2 weeks ago and guess what…within hours back came the tummy ache & diarrhoea….it was APPLE that calmed and helped
    Love
    Bronda UK[/quote]

    Hi Bronda,
    Interesting that they’re called “digestive biscuits”, isn’t it? Maybe they should be renamed “indigestive biscuits”!
    Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear that apples help with your IBS symptoms and that you’re doing well!

  8. Peeled or not, I can’ eat apples. Of course, it could very well be my post-menopausal body that is causing my IBS flare-ups. Very frustrating!

  9. The digestive biscuits here in UK come coated in chocolate…plain and milk….sadly for me milk choc is a no no because of the milk bit!
    There are plain …no coating and they are OK and very good if you are constipated.
    I,ve switched to plain dark choc (75% cocoa) and I,m OK
    It has become very clear to me, certainly in my case, that any sort of milk addition, e.g biscuits cakes etc have a pretty quick effect on my digestion IBS
    Love
    Bronda UK

  10. [quote name=”Nancy”]Peeled or not, I can’ eat apples. Of course, it could very well be my post-menopausal body that is causing my IBS flare-ups. Very frustrating![/quote]

    Hi Nancy,
    Possibly you have an allergy or sensitivity to apples. Or it could be the fructose level in them. Have you taken a look at the FODMAP diet? It is based on the idea that many people with IBS and other digestive problems are sensitive to the sugars in foods (even naturally-occurring sugars.)

    Changes in hormones might trigger symptoms. You could try EFT tapping on balancing your hormones, or go and see a practitioner (EFT or BIE) who can balance your hormones for you.

  11. [quote name=”BRONDA UK”]The digestive biscuits here in UK come coated in chocolate…plain and milk….sadly for me milk choc is a no no because of the milk bit!
    There are plain …no coating and they are OK and very good if you are constipated.
    I,ve switched to plain dark choc (75% cocoa) and I,m OK
    It has become very clear to me, certainly in my case, that any sort of milk addition, e.g biscuits cakes etc have a pretty quick effect on my digestion IBS
    Love
    Bronda UK[/quote]
    Wow, Bronda, that is very interesting that you can eat dark chocolate but not milk chocolate. So you’re not sensitive to chocolate (lucky you! I am.)

    Diarrhea sufferers, please note that Bronda said chocolate helps with constipation. It CAN provoke diarrhea in some people so be cautious if you have IBS-D. Also, chocolate sensitivity is individual, so get tested to find out for sure.

  12. Thank you for the info, Karen. I will look up the FODMAP diet. As for the hormones, I will ask my OBGYN if there are natural ways to balance them.

  13. Forgot to mention that this whole IBS thing wouldn’t be so frustrating if there was a diet everyone could follow and not what works for one might not work for another. I have heard that a blood test for food allergies will eliminate the guessing work.

  14. Hi Nancy,
    Yes, it’s true that IBS is very frustrating with the many diets etc. What Kathy and I have found with chronic IBS is that if you do not get relief from a diet or from bacterial correction, then quite often there is physical or emotional trauma underlying the Syndrome. Pardon me if I toot our horn a little, but this is exactly why we developed the No IBS Program and wrote our ebook.

    Being tested for food allergies or sensitivities does eliminate the guess work. Blood testing is one route, BIE is another; if you look at Bronda’s story in the post “How to Eat With IBS – An Inspiring Success Story”, she went to a Medical Herbalist for food testing. (She is in the UK – don’t know whether this service is available in North America or not.)

    I’ll be curious what your ObGyn suggests for hormone balancing – possibly progesterone? Keep me posted.

  15. @ Cheryl check into CANDIDA – I had it once and any fruit I ate would be very very BAD!!! it turned my stomach into a giant Keg. HOpe this helps a year later 🙂

  16. I can’t seem to keep apples down. I usually eat one at lunchtime with my lunch. And most every time I regurgitate a portion of the apple. What could be causing this?

  17. You may have sensitized to apples. Whenever you eat something on a daily basis, there is the potential for reacting to it. (I’m guilty of this, myself!)

    Another possibility is that you are reacting to the coating on the apple skin or the pesticides it has been grown with – unless you are eating organically-grown apples.

    A third possibility that is common for people with IBS is that you are reacting to the fructose. This is a particular problem if you have bacteria that has migrated from the large intestine to the small intestine (where it shouldn’t be.) Some experts consider this bacterial migration to be the source of most IBS. One way to “starve” that bacteria so it goes away is to stop eating all fruit (since apparently fructose feeds the bacteria) for several weeks. Then you may be okay with apples again.

    Recent nutrition research has shown that fruit and fructose cause many digestive and health problems, so apples may not be a good choice.

  18. I have an apple, peel and all, every day, and usually around 4 pm. I cannot go more than a maximum of 4 hours without putting something in my stomach and apples. Apples, for me, add a bit of the fibre so necessary.

    Each person’s IBS is unique. No-one has the same reaction to a food. We each have to find our own help – reading all the comments often gives us ideas we have missed trying – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

    Also, what worked well one year may suddenly not work another. My IBS seems to change gears around late October through December…e.g. two years ago blueberries suddenly became anathema. Last year I didn’t touch them. This year I tried one, it was ok. I tried two. And by the end of the week was back to a huge handful every day during the peak of the season.

    Keep up the good work in here – it’s a wonderful site.

  19. Hi Annie,

    Thank you so much for your comment and the kind words!

    I wonder if part of the problem you are having in October through December is either from a reaction to mold in the air – from the autumn leaves – or a reaction to the furnace being turned on. Many people go through these seasonal cycles. If the problem is mould, you may be better in the winter when snow is on the ground, covering up the mold.

    These reactions would make it harder to digest some foods especially if they are borderline foods for your personal digestive system.

  20. Thank you so much for the great advice. I just want to find out what I do in my case? I have a mixture I get constipated sometimes and have loose stools and sometimes I am regular.

  21. Hi Shirley,

    As you read through some of the blog posts, I think you will find the answer to your question. You might want to begin with eating soluble fiber foods at the beginning of each meal – you can find out more in the post on Best Foods for IBS.

    Swinging between constipation and loose stools is often your body’s unconscious response to stressful events in your life (even if you think you’re doing a good job of covering up that stress.) So take a look at the blog posts on anxiety. You will find a video that shows you how to tap to reduce anxiety. Try using it daily for a couple of weeks.

    If you go to the site map (link at bottom of page) or to the home page, you will find a list of all the articles.

  22. I have IBS-C, so I sauce with the skin and puree it very well, will it be ok? O should not put the skin at all??

  23. Karen of No IBS

    Hi Celina,

    I would suggest you try it both ways (with skin and without) and see if one feels better than the other. It’s possible that the cooking and pureeing will help to break down the fiber in the skin enough that it won’t bother you. And since you’re not prone to diarrhea, perhaps the little bit of insoluble fiber will work for you. I think your body will let you know.

  24. i have been suffering from this for two years,i had my gall ballder removed in december and have lost 40 lbs since then,,i love your articles and then it comes down to whaat i dont have,,,,money i am 61 years old with a 16 year old daughter,my wife died of breast cancer in 2009 and i have been in eternal debt since trying to pay her medical bills,,i was so excited to see your site ,but then the bottom fell out,,i live on disability thanks anyway Bob

  25. Hi Bob,Sounds like you are having a rough time and I’m sorry to hear that. My suggestion would be that if you slowly work your way through all the free information on our site, it’s possible that you could make some significant changes in your health. In your situation, I would especially work with the tapping (see the article on Self-Treatment for Anxiety for video instructions on how to tap) as you seem to have had a considerable amount of stress and some challenging emotional situations in the last few years. In our western world, we are trained to believe that our emotions have nothing to do with our physical health, however, there are doctors who think that almost all chronic conditions and diseases are caused by stress and trauma. The beauty of the EFT tapping is it helps you to release all that and very often this seems to relieve physical symptoms as well. Candace Pert, PhD, a neuroscientist who studied the effects of emotions on health, said that HAVING the emotions like grief, anger, fear, overwhelm, etc. is not the problem. The problem is when we don’t release those emotions or express them in some non-destructive way. Food for thought. Anyway, in addition to our site, there are lots of free tapping videos on Youtube for many different health conditions and there are thousands of people all over the world who have changed their health for the better with tapping. When life is dragging you down, tapping may not change your outer circumstances, but it can help you to stop FEELING dragged down, which is a tremendous boon, in my opinion. All I know is it helped me enormously. All the best.

  26. I have ibs I’m 25 and the pain is so unbearable I don’t know what to eat and to top it off I have germs please help….

  27. Hi Ashley,Not sure what you mean by “germs.” In terms of figuring out what to eat, if you read through the blog posts on this site about foods for IBS, gut flora, and herbs, you will find a great deal of information (look at the list of posts on the right, or go to our Home page and you will see a list of articles.) For pain, Kathy and I find that EFT tapping often helps – you can learn how to use it by looking at some of our posts on anxiety or go to our YouTube channel called NoIBSvideos and you will find several videos that show you what to do.Calming stress with EFT tapping often helps to relieve physical pain since the nervous system is triggered by stress and this can set off the digestive system into spasms and discomfort. Another thought is to get a copy of our ebook, “Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome” which will give you plenty of information about what to do. You can find it on the Products page.

  28. Went to your site to see if I may eat applesauce. I just. had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and have a bad case of IBS. Started to take VSL#3, saw your site on the internet and wanted to see if applesauce would ge ok. It worked! Took 1 vSL#3 pill,with the applesauce and within 20 minutes the bloating and gas pains were gone. Going to take my second pill forthe day withThe ret of my applesauce.

  29. PEELED APPLES ARE EASILY DIGESTED FOR ME AND SAUCE ALSO DIGESTED . PROBIOTIC JUICE AS HEALTH DRINK IS GOOD FOR ME Regards SARLA AGARWAL

  30. Hi Marilyn,Since VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic, I’m not sure why you would have trouble with applesauce or apples when taking it, unless you have a problem with fructose as some people with IBS do. Sounds like you’re okay with it, though, so that’s good!Thanks for your comment.

  31. Thank goodness i found you.So much good information The subject about apples is really interesting.Before i had this IBS and Diverticula nightmare that seemed to descend on me like a ton of bricks i would eat an apple every day.Now for such a long time i avoid them i get cramps etc. so i am going to try the apple sauce in the hope i can eat it without any trouble.I also avoid banana,s as they also give me trouble.Both these fruits i ate for many years daily so i am upset i have had to leave them out.I have so many questions i would like to ask, but slowly,slowly i will not bombard you both with them all at the moment.Have had all the tests caried out on me and all is clear of anything life threatning.I have tried all the anti-spasmodic tablets etc.prescribed for me ,but they do not work.The worse thing i get is very painful stomach pains after i empty my bowels that can las all day.If only i could get a grip on this i would be so happy.Its for some people not a nice subject speak about,so i do not blame them from getting fed up with me! I rambled on enough,but once again thankyou for your site.Best wishes Sue.

  32. Hi Susan,You might want to get checked for food sensitivities. It’s not necessary to have a full-blown allergy to react badly to certain foods, and when you know what they are, you can take them out of your diet and feel much better. (It helped me a lot.)You might also benefit from doing the EFT tapping which is described on this site. When the digestion goes into spasms, it is sometimes stress-related, and EFT is great for calming stress. Take a look at this blog post http://www.no-ibs.com/blog/self-treatment-for-anxiety-when-irritable-bowel-symptoms-calm-brains-alarm-center.html Thanks for the kind words about our site. Glad to know you find it helpful.

  33. Apple skin gives me terrible diarrhea that will last for two days, Pepto Bismol helps. Cucumber and tomato skin also has the same effect. My family thinks I’m weird for peeling my fruits and veggies but I don’t care.

  34. Hi! Been suffering from IBS. Takings meds for it and no big improvement in what I can eat. Ate a peeled apple this morning after feeling pretty good upon waking up, and I feel as if it’s just stuck in the middle of my stomach. Of course, I’m gassy and bloated now. Stomach making all kinds of noises. Will this ever end? Very frustrating!

  35. Hi Stephanie,You might want to check into FODMAPS. Many IBS sufferers have trouble with fructose and other sugars that can cause bloating and other symptoms. Also, take a look at food combining. If you ate the apple with a starchy food like rice or oatmeal, that may have caused problems (fruit and starch are not considered a good combination.)

  36. I have IBS with constipation just found out for year I would eat look 6 months pregnant and have to take laxatives to go to the bathroom. The GI gave me some samples of Linzess it seems to help some.

  37. Thank you ladies, for your very helpful information. Each little bit helps, and it helps to know that we are not alone. Love your E-mails.

  38. I suffer from depression and being taking meds for 15 years, I never have an appetite for anything horrible constipation I live on Ensure plus. My Doctor prescribed Linzess, but it made my body feel strange so I stopped it. Never get diarrhea but the constipation is bad. Any suggestion would be appreciated it.

  39. I have long suspected flour was a main trigger for my IBS-C symptomatology. I’ve suffered with it since 1989, often going for a week to week and a half with no movement until an excruciating flare with four to six visits to the bathroom in a day (never diarrhea, just several movements to “catch up” on the backlog – no pun intended). Just recently in an effort to lose weight and tackle IBS-C once and for all, I have restricted my diet of breads and flour-containing foods and added apples. I eat two to three apples per day along with maybe one or two tangelos. For the first time in 30 years, I have had a movement each and every day now for six days straight! Even better? Only five mins in the bathroom and I’m done! No repeat trips or agonizing gut-wrenching spasms, pain, and discomfort. I just might be onto something! I eat the apples with the skin on, though, and haven’t had any problems with spasms. Drinking water has helped too. I have tried fiber in the past like Raisin Bran and whole wheat to no avail, but I may have stumbled onto the cure for this.

  40. Hi Jim,Sounds like you may be gluten-sensitive. Many of us are, even when medical allergies don’t show up.As you have discovered, there is actually more and better fiber in fruits – and vegetables – than in grains.Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  41. Hi! Just found this post. I was advised to follow low FODMAP diet to treat my IBS, and in all low FODMAP lists i find apple on the “bad” side due to high fructose. I don’t seem to react to apples, at least i haven’t traced that yet, but wonder if I should stick to the diet or follow your advice. Thanks!

  42. Hi Anastasia,If you truly have no problem with apples, then I think you should listen to your body. IBS is such a variable condition, there is no single diet that works for every person. Part of the reason it is so variable is because IBS is a catch-all phrase for digestive conditions that don’t fit the medical model well. Some people only need to work with their diet and probiotics Other people need to do that and reduce their chemical exposure (although, frankly, I think this is valuable for everyone.) Others need to address trauma, since it can play a huge role in IBS. But back to apples. There’s nothing inherently wrong with apples. If you have SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth – then avoiding all high-fructose fruit is an absolute necessity. Some doctors assume that all IBS is caused by SIBO, but this is just one opinion. As you can see from the comments on this post, people vary in their reactions to apples so not everyone with IBS seems to have SIBO.Anyway, as I mentioned above, your body will tell you whether apples work for you or not. That, to me, is the final authority.

  43. I find the article very helpful, but does ibs cause fatigue? Or could my fatigue be as a resultof my hernia, also, does ibs cause lack of concentration , or light headedness? Answers will highly appreciated

  44. Hi Lucky,I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know exactly what’s causing your symptoms and can’t diagnose for you.Here’s what I do know… IBS can be fatiguing – yes. Whenever your body is struggling – whether it’s with IBS, a hernia, or just a common cold, the struggle calls upon many of your body’s resources and that is tiring.Light-headedness, lack of concentration and fatigue may be due to a medical condition. They may also be the result of dysbiosis – meaning gut flora that is out of balance, and leaky gut syndrome. Since you are having all these gut-related problems, you might want to look at your diet for food intolerances, take some good probiotics, and avoid gluten, which causes leaky gut. Are you dehydrated?Read through the articles on this site, and you’ll find a wealth of information. You may also be interested in our ebook for IBS, which you can find on the Products page. It will take you step-by-step through the actions that we have found help to significantly reduce or stop IBS symptoms.Think of yourself as partnering with your body to get well again. There’s no need to continue with these symptoms for the rest of your life.

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