If you have the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or have been diagnosed with IBS, you probably already know some of the foods that make you suffer. Too much of anything is not a good thing, and the balance of getting easy-to-digest carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats is a tough challenge when you have an achy gut.
Ten to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. have IBS, and 70 percent of IBS patients are female. Major symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. It can be complicated to find the cause, but it is a diagnosis that if worked through, can greatly benefit from an appropriate diet. The problem is that what's “appropriate” for each person varies and can be quite different.
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill.
Until you have reached conclusions about which foods to avoid and include with your doctor or registered dietitian, there are some foods that can tend to calm down an irritated bowel. Again, results vary, but these are simple to digest foods that can offer a result of less overall inflammation.
A food that is often prescribed for a “bland” diet, you can jazz rice up carefully, with seasonings such as the anti-inflammatory turmeric, or eat rice in products that are easy to digest such as rice cakes and/or rice cereals. There are also pastas and bread products made with rice flour, which can offer some variety to an otherwise bland food! My favorite “rice” snack is a brown rice cake with 1 to 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed or almond butter. You can find both of these products at Trader Joe's or Baker's.
Well known for it's anti-inflammatory effects, salmon can provide a satisfying meal that is high in protein and heart healthy oils, to help calm and move the digestive system along. Be careful with seasonings and marinades, depending on your tolerance.
A complete source of essential amino acids, quinoa is considered a staple to many vegetarians because of its nutrient density and proteins. While the number of grams of protein is not exactly high, it does serve as a well-rounded carbohydrate that is easy to digest. If you need it to taste more interesting, flavor cooked quinoa by adding a little olive oil and seasoning with turmeric, cumin, and coriander.
Scientifically, the sweet potato is a cousin to the regular potato, but when speaking of gut sensitivity, the sweet potato is closer to a jicama than it is to a white potato. Compared to other potatoes, the sweet potato offers more value for the bite. The antioxidant effects are plentiful, mostly due to their amazing vitamin A and beta-carotene content. These vitamins provide potent nutrition to fight inflammation in the blood and in the gut.
If you think you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, you should visit your doctor for a complete workup, and start a food diary to notate your intake and symptoms.