Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Types and Management

There are four main types of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)— IBS with constipation (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), mixed IBS (IBS-M) with alternating constipation and diarrhea, and finally unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U) with half hard lumpy stools and half watery stools. This article means to provide a brief overview of these types, the common triggers for each type, and what changes can be made to the diet to manage these conditions has been given.

The following tips aim to help one understand each IBS type, and how one can efficiently choose the foods to include and avoid certain prevalent IBS symptoms:

1. IBS with constipation (IBS-C, IBS-U and IBS-M)
Constipation can be triggered by many foods, just like diarrhea. If one eats a lot of processed food, then they might be at risk of suffering from constipation. High protein diets can lead to constipation as well as some types of dairy products, such as cheese. Food items made from refined grains can lead to constipation as well. The first course of action and the most vital IBS dietary tip is to drink lots of water and remain hydrated. One should work on increasing their daily fiber intake. Women should consume around 25 grams of fiber while men should consume around 38 grams of fiber daily. One should eat vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods. One can also consume ground flaxseed as a remedy for constipation and also eat dry plums.

2. IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D, IBS-U and IBS-M)
If one consumes too much fiber, especially the insoluble type, then one can suffer from diarrhea. If one eats a lot of chocolate, drinks caffeine or alcohol, or uses artificial sweeteners, then the risk of suffering from diarrhea, a common type of IBS, increases. Carbonated drinks, fried foods, gluten, and fatty foods are known to worsen the symptoms of diarrhea. Consuming large meals can also trigger diarrhea symptoms. Some essential dietary tips to ease the IBS symptoms are to avoid foods that can cause the formation of gas and to eat smaller meals. If one eats foods of varying temperatures, it can then trigger the diarrhea symptoms. One should ensure to remain hydrated when suffering from diarrhea as it can easily tire one out.

3. Gas and painful bloating
Certain foods can cause bloating and the formation of gas. Some of these include asparagus, celery, raisins, wheat germ, Brussels sprouts, and beans. Generally, fruits that have a high content of soluble fiber that can also trigger IBS symptoms. Foods that are high in starch content often lead to gas as well, especially if one consumes them regularly. One of the most helpful IBS dietary tips for gas formation is to maintain a diary and record the meals one has. And, when one suffers from an attack, they can know the trigger food from this diary and one can include or eliminate foods to their diet accordingly.

Not all trigger foods mentioned above will trigger one’s IBS symptoms or cause flare-ups. There may be some foods that can trigger one’s IBS symptoms as not all foods affect everyone’s digestive system. This is what makes detecting the cause of IBS a little tricky. On consulting a doctor, one will be able to manage the symptoms of IBS more efficiently.