by Dr. Bill Rawls
What’s the best way to eat to help ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Dr. Bill Rawls explains that the root cause of IBS is often found in the foods we eat most, but by making smart swaps, you can rebalance your microbiome and reduce your symptoms of IBS. To read more about overcoming IBS, get a comprehensive guide here.
Question: What is the best diet for IBS?
Dr. Bill Rawls here. So, what is the best diet for irritable bowel syndrome? Irritable bowel syndrome is that discomfort where you’ve got gas and bloating. It’s mainly in the lower intestinal tract, the colon, where gas collects and causes general discomfort. Sometimes you’ll have diarrhea or loose stools, sometimes constipation, and sometimes both, alternating back and forth.
The root cause of this is a heavily grain and bean-based diet. The starches and the type of fiber in grains and beans are feeding bad bacteria that are contributing to the problem. To overcome that problem, limiting those foods is really important, along with bringing on foods that cultivate a different spectrum of bacteria in the gut — and that means vegetable fiber and fruit. Predominantly vegetables, though.
For me, the golden rule of healthy eating is that half of your food should come from vegetables. Vegetable fiber is very different than grain fiber, and it causes the growth of different bacteria. It’s really, really important, so you don’t have an overgrowth of the wrong kinds of microbes.
The same goes with fruit fiber. The sugars in fruit don’t do the same things that sugars like table sugar will to your bacteria. So feeding your bacteria, cultivating a garden of healthy bacteria, is really, really important.
Other things that can help are fermented foods. You know, humans have eaten fermented foods for a long time — fermented dairy, but also fermented vegetables like kimchi. Now, that’s an acquired taste, we’re not used to eating these things. But if you can learn to incorporate those things into your diet, it can make a huge difference.
Also omega-3s. You’re getting a lot more omega-3 fatty acids in vegetables, and also you can get them as supplements or in fish, which I consider one of the better protein sources because it has these really, really favorable fats.
So, the short answer for irritable bowel syndrome: more vegetables, more fruit, but vegetables over fruit. Easy-to-digest meats, fish, good oils like olive oil. All of these things help to cultivate normal bacteria that aren’t going to give you problems.