Most people with IBS find that making certain changes in diet and/or lifestyle can help reduce their symptoms. However, there is no single dietary modification that works for everyone, owing to the range of different symptoms experienced by any given individual.
Traditional dietary advice has been to maintain regular meal patterns, avoid large meals, reduce fat intake, avoid excessive insoluble fiber intake & reduce caffeine. More recently a low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols) diet has also been shown to help symptoms of IBS. These types of carbohydrates aren’t easily broken down by the gut bacteria and the gases released during this slow process may lead to bloating and discomfort. A low FODMAP diet involves restricting the intake of various foods that are high in FODMAPs, such as some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans.
However, a recent article in Gastroenterology (2015;149:1295-97) highlighted a study which compared two popular diets (i.e. traditional vs low FODMAP) in people with IBS. The main finding was that both diets were equally effective in improving symptoms. Although there is still a lack of basic science to explain how either diet works, we recommend spending time with an experienced dietician, who can help create the diet and lifestyle plan that works most effectively for you.