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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What foods should someone avoid if they have irritable bowel syndrome?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Jon Gamble


    Jon is author of ‘Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ and “Obstacles to Cure: Toxicity, Deficiency & Infection” - two books for CAM practitioners. He specialises … View Profile

    Every IBS sufferer is different, so one size does not fit all. Some IBS sufferers have food sensitivity, others do not. Lets say you have Category 7 IBS: then you will have a sluggish liver, and oily, fatty or spicy foods will be a real trigger. Another IBS sufferer may have Candida dysbiosis - this will mean that sugars and starches will upset symptoms. However, if you talk about true food sensitivity (not food “triggers”) then the most common of these are: dairy, egg, wheat and yeast.

  • 4


    Joy Anderson

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Joy is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, as well as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has a special interest in … View Profile

    There is no simple answer to this question. IBS is a description of a variable number of symptoms. In many cases, the person is sensitive to natural food chemicals or some whole foods, while in others they are sensitive to a group of small carbohydrates known as FODMAPs (which stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols). These are the same as what are termed prebiotics or dietary fibre, and are found in many ‘windy’ foods plus others including wheat. These food components are good for our health, but it seems that some people are generally more sensitive to too much of some of them. The best way to identify what is triggering IBS in any individual person is for them to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with an interest in food sensitivity. In this way, an individual plan can be formulated for that person.

  • 2


    Lyn Craven

    Bowen Therapist, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Western Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    I specialise in gastrointestinal health problems, (leaky gut syndrome, allergies, bloating, candida, IBS, constipation, dysbiosis, reflux), women's health, back/neck pain, RSI, carpel tunnel syndrome, rotating/tilting … View Profile

    I recommend people avoding all dairy, wheat, sugar, figs, whole nuts and seeds.  Fruit should always be peeled.  Red meat should be eliminated of eaten no more than once a fortnight. Ground mince is a better option.
    Food needs to be chew and masticated thoroughly to aid digestion.
    Liquids need to be avoided during meals - drink half hour before food or one hour afterwards.
    Slippery elm powder should be in everyone's cupboard if you have any bowel problem.  1 dessertspoon
    a day for at least the first week, then depending on assessment I may suggest people alternate the days.
    Live bacteria's must be taken.  As mentioned in my previous answer specific types are formulated for particular symptom profiles.  Seek out professional help to get results you need.
    Too much mental stress can trigger IBS or any gut/bowel issue.  We live in stressful environments now and are constantly bombarded with technology and demands to perform longer hours.  Mental and emotional stress takes considerable toll on the entire gastrointestinal track.  Its not always about food.  Some people are less able to deal with stress and have uptight personalities, this reflects on the function of the intestines - they become uptight also.  Giving laxatives in this situation is the worse you can do.

  • 4


    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    Great responses so far!

    It may be worthwhile to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) to pinpoint what kind of kind of diet/lifestyle will work for you - with IBS everyone is different, so what may work for someone else may not work for you. You can find your nearest APD on the Dietitian's Association of Australia website

    Generally, treatment for IBS revolves around minimising symptoms (eg. constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence etc) and determining what may be the cause (eg. medication, stress, food sensitivity etc).

    An APD can go through this process step by step with you, but in general avoid the following ‘windy’ foods and known gut irritators: 
    1.  'Windy' Vegetables: such as brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
    2.  ‘Windy’ Legumes: such as chickpeas, baked beans, lentils, kidney beans etc
    3. Some FODMAPS: particularly lactose and sorbitol (buy lactose free milk or swap to Soymilk, Rice-milk or Almond milk)
    4. Artificial Sweeteners: commonly found in ‘diet’ products
    5. Caffeine: swap to Heral Teas and de-caffeinated coffee
    6. Spices: especially hot/spicy foods
    7. Alcohol

    Hope all the feedback helps!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on facebook at )

  • 10


    Jaci Barrett is an accredited practising dietitian and one of the leading Monash University researchers involved in the development of the Low FODMAP Diet for … View Profile

    There is now good evidence to support a restriction of fermentable carbohydrates to manage symptoms of IBS. I work part time with Monash University's FODMAP research team. We have built considerable evidence to confirm that FODMAPs are poorly absorbed, osmotically active and rapidly fermented in the bowel. These processes increase water and gas content of the bowel and contribute to IBS symptoms.
    You could google FODMAP, but most likely will find out of date information about this diet. At Monash University we are still measuring foods today, so the diet and food lists are being constantly updated.
    It is also imperative that you understand that each person with IBS does not need to follow the FODMAP diet to the same degree. There are a range of carbohydrates covered in the FODMAP diet, of which only a couple may be relevant to each individual. And when you discover which FODMAPs trigger symptoms, each person will have a different level of tolerance to each carbohydrate so the level of restriction required will differ.
    FODMAPs are very good for the bowel so should only be restricted if symptoms occur. It is also important that it is not followed strictly for life. If you need to follow the low FODMAP diet, it is important that you either try to include some high FODMAP foods occasionally or look at other ways to maximise your diet for bowel health. An Accredited Practising Dietitian with expertise in gastrointestinal disorders and food intolerances can guide you through this process.

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