Eating for IBS

  • By
    Kerry Torrens - Nutritional therapist

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive complaint. Nutritional therapist Kerry offers up the perfect breakfast for sufferers and explains how a few key ingredients can help...

Eating for IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive complaint, however many symptoms can be eased with the right diet. Nutritional therapist Kerry offers up the perfect breakfast for sufferers and explains how a few key ingredients can help...

It is unclear why IBS affects some people and not others. While symptoms vary, they usually include diarrhoea, constipation and bloating. Common triggers include stress or disruption to the good bacteria in your gut.

Some sufferers can manage their symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes, which include eating at regular times and cutting back on coffee, tea and alcohol. It's also a good idea to replace roughage like bran with gentler, soluble forms of fibre found in bananas, apples, pears, oats, rye and barley. This may help to alleviate bloating and regulate bowel movements.

Apple & linseed porridge An example of a great breakfast for IBS sufferers is Good Food's Apple & linseed porridge, due to some key ingredients.

As well as oats and apples, this porridge uses linseeds (also known as flaxseeds) - another good source of soluble fibre. It's worth grinding linseeds before using (or buy the ready-ground variety) as this helps your body to absorb all their great properties, including omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to soothe irritation. Linseed also supplies the types of fibre that your good gut bacteria thrive on; other foods with these prebiotic properties include ground almonds and chia seeds.

This porridge is finished with a generous dollop of probiotic yogurt, also useful for keeping our guts healthy. Eating naturally fermented foods like yogurt, which contain 'live' cultures, may help restore healthy levels of gut bacteria.

Remember, you should make dietary changes gradually so you don't aggravate an already sensitive system, and it's important to visit your GP to rule out any other health issues as soon as you experience a change to your bowel habits.

AppleBefore you try this recipe...

Our Cookery Team, supported by our Nutritional Therapist, devised this recipe after discussing this issue with a GP. Sadly IBS is a condition where one dietary approach does not suit all sufferers. That's because symptoms vary so much and because there is no definitive cause. Our aim was to devise a single recipe that would meet the most common needs as highlighted by our discussions with the GP. With this in mind some IBS sufferers certainly achieve relief from the inclusion of the gentler soluble fibre like the pectin found in some fruit like apples, the fibre in oats and ground seeds - these sufferers find that including soluble fibre helps regulate their system. Other sufferers are advised to follow a low fibre diet for a period of time because this can calm an overactive digestive system and alleviate some of their symptoms.

The FODMAP approach is an interesting development and appears to be proving successful but it can be confusing and the dietary changes really require personalised professional advice. Many IBS sufferers find that including probiotic or live yogurt can help relieve symptoms potentially by improving the health of the gut environment - more studies are needed to identify the specific species and strains of bacteria which may lead to these benefits. If in doubt, always talk to your GP.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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bob54's picture

Dear Kerry,
I really liked this article and would say it is 100% correct. I am diabetic type2 and suffer from IBS. The porridge and linseed works really well, even better than my prescribed medicines.
Thank you
bob aged 59.

mbadger's picture

As someone who was diagnosed with IBS nearly 30 years ago I've tried everything to try and alleviate my symptoms. Recently though I began the low FODMAP diet and have never felt better. I certainly notice when I have something that causes problems for me and have a long way to go in identifying these foods. It would be really useful if recipe sites could begin to include low FODMAP recipes!

Rosey2014's picture

I was suprised that although Kerry mentions the FODMAP diet, her recipies and advice seem to be in direct contrast to it. Apples, wheat (gluten) and dairy are in the advised "DON'T eat" list for IBS sufferers and although oats do not contain gluten, they do contain a similar substance which some gluten intollerant people cannot tollerat either. My GP suggested the FODMAP diet and said it helps about 60% of IBS sufferers. After trying it for a few months, it was definately much easier to tell which foods were causing problems when they were tried again. NHS direct has some advice about it. The dietician at my GP practice didn't seem to be able to help much unfortunately.

sarahleetes's picture

I have IBS, but unfortunately find that cows milk and yoghurt make it worse especially in the morning. I also find bananas make it worse too! I have just been also diagnosed with osteoporosis at the age of 43! I eat cheese and almond milk in small amounts and soya desserts when I have to, but do not enjoy the latter! I take a calcium/Vit D supplement as prescribed by my GP, but I am finding it difficult to consume more calcium naturally though I do eat white bread which has it listed in the ingredients. Any helpful recipes I could use every week would be useful as a IBS/Osteoporosis suffer.

daisayrose's picture

Hello saraleetes.....As we know that apple keeps away doctor, above mentioned apple recipe can helpful for not only IBS but also many health problems. You need to increase fiber intake and water consumption. Drink daily 8 - 10 glasses of water and take proper diet.

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