Frequent stomach aches, bloating, and gas after eating can be indicative of a variety of conditions, from food allergies to Crohn’s disease. But if these symptoms are accompanied by abdominal pain or cramping and altered bowel habit, you could be one of the approximately 45 million Americans who have irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
IBS is a chronic condition involving the large intestine, and, in addition to the aforementioned symptoms, it is characterized by chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or an alternation of the two. IBS is extremely prevalent, affecting as much as 15 percent of the U.S. population. It is further estimated that up to 23 percent of people have IBS worldwide, but many go undiagnosed because they mistake the symptoms for another condition. About two in three IBS sufferers are female, and it can be seen in people of all ages. Although the exact cause of IBS is unknown, there are treatments available to manage symptoms. The most important step towards tackling IBS is knowing which foods aggravate the condition. By avoiding these foods, you can keep symptoms from disrupting everyday life, and prevent IBS from developing into a severely debilitating condition.
Ashvini Mashru, a registered dietitian, author, and owner of Wellness Nutrition Concepts told us that identifying what foods are responsible for triggering IBS is not always easy. “Everyone responds to food differently, so I recommend using a food diary to identify what your personal trigger foods are before completely eliminating anything from your diet,” she said. Although everyone’s experience is different, there is a general consensus among doctors and nutritionists concerning which foods most commonly pose a problem for people with IBS.
The following foods are known to irritate the intestinal tract and disturb healthy gut flora, which is imperative for good digestive health. You might want to consider eliminating them from your diet to alleviate symptoms and help determine which foods work well for you and which do not.