Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet – Do You Know Your Food Sensitivities?

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Millions of Americans have IBS. And most of them are searching for the best Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet. But you already knew that. Many experts believe IBS is triggered by certain types of foods. I bet you already knew that too. Stress is likely a factor in IBS. Nothing you didn’t know.

The thing that we should be discussing is body chemistry.

Every human has a slightly different body chemistry. And that means every human will process food in a slightly different way.

IBS, like many other ailments, is based on a combination of what foods you eat and the unique way that your body digests and processes food.

Your Digestive System

The digestive system has two main functions. The first one is to break food down into the nutrients that you need to live and thrive. The second is to eliminate waste. And every person’s digestive system is as unique as it is complicated.

As soon as food enters your mouth it is affected by many types of enzymes. Enzymes are found in your mouth, stomach and intestines. Your saliva contains amylases and lipases which can break down carbohydrates and fats while your small intestine has mostly proteases to break down proteins.

Your stomach is essentially focused on a ‘mechanical’ process of churning your food and mixing it with gastric juices. It physically breaks up your food and turns it into chyme (a thick paste). There are cells along the wall of the stomach that secrete roughly one half gallon of hydrochloric acid each day. This acid kills bacteria and helps us digest our food. Yes, that is the same hydrochloric acid used to eliminate rust and is found in many industrial cleaning products.

As this amazing digestive process takes place it is more complex than any chemistry experiment you can imagine.

So is shouldn’t be surprising that all these different chemical variables interacting with so many types of foods could cause dozens of different types of reactions.

And that is why Irritable Bowel Syndrome and diet are so closely tied yet so complex and seemingly impossible to cure.

IBS Triggers

The medical community has debated the causes and treatments of IBS for years.

This has resulted in many opinions and suggestions regarding triggers and certain foods to avoid.

It is thought that the most common triggers for IBS are:

  • Chocolate, alcohol, caffeine
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Dairy products
  • Wheat/gluten
  • Insoluble fiber (like the skin of fruits and vegetables)

FOODMAP Diet & Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

FOODMAP is a diet strategy developed by Australian PhD nutritionist Sue Shepherd. It stands for:

Fermentable – Oligo – Di – Mono-saccharides, And Polyois

Fermentable- these are foods that contain short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that ferment rapidly in our gut

Oligosaccharides- found in garlic, onions, legumes, wheat and asparagus

Disaccharides – found in dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, ice cream

Monosaccharides – simple sugars found in honey, cane sugar and fruit

And Polyols – a naturally occurring sugar found in a range of fruits and vegetables

The FOODMAP theory is that certain foods that ferment rapidly in the gut can be triggers of IBS. For people who suffer from IBS it is believed that these short-chain carbohydrates remain largely unabsorbed in the small intestine and that leads to bloating, gas and potentially diarrhea.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet is basically avoiding or eliminating FOODMAP foods. It is believed that IBS can be controlled that way.

Elimination is a Targeted Approach

Most people with IBS endure a long and tedious road of food elimination. Over the course of months or even years they attempt to eliminate one type of food at a time to find out if their IBS is caused by a certain food. This is a difficult process and takes discipline and rigor.

A typical elimination plan would involve taking one type of food out of your diet for 6 to 8 weeks and monitoring your symptoms in a food diary. Your food diary would track many of your symptoms including stomach bloating, flatulence and diarrhea?

Once you’ve charted the results during your elimination period you would then go into a reintroduction phase where you slowly begin consuming that food again. Usually you start slowly by eating the food once and then waiting a few days to consume it again. Over the course of a few weeks you would experiment with that food as you slowly increase the amount and frequency of consumption. All the while you would be recording your symptoms and results in a food diary.

As you can imagine this process takes time and discipline and even when done very precisely can lead to mixed results.

IBS and Food Sensitivity Testing

Very few people with IBS have an actual food allergy. But what they do have is a food intolerance or a food sensitivity.

A food intolerance is not life threatening like many food allergies can be. A food intolerance occurs when our IgG antibody reacts to a food you have eaten. IgG (Immunoglobulin G antibody) is the most common antibody within our immune system. We all have a lot of it in our bodies. And recent research indicates that people with IBS have some of the highest levels of IgG in their blood.

IgG is meant to fight against bacterial and viral infections in our body. It’s meant to take action only when some really bad things enter your system. But sometimes these antibodies get confused and have reactions to common foods. Anyone with IBS has felt these reactions as they begin to create havoc in the gut. Research indicates that IgG immune response could be a critical factor in IBS.

There are several food sensitivity tests that can quickly and easily indicate which foods are causing your IgG immune response to spike.

Most of the popular in-home tests require a simple blood prick on your finger. This tiny blood sample can be used to test IgG reactivity to dozens of ordinary foods that you consume each week. It’s like getting the results of a year-long elimination diet in one simple report.

Final Words on Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet

If you have IBS you already know that millions of Americans are affected. You know that certain foods trigger your IBS and you have probably heard of the FOODMAP diet. And I bet you have attempted some form of an elimination strategy. But recent research is beginning to show that IBS could very likely be caused by IgG reactions. The antibody that is meant to fight off major viruses in your body may actually be the very thing that is causing your IBS.

The good news is that there are simple at-home tests that only require a simple finger prick of blood. These tests from companies such as Everlywell and HABIT can measure your personal IgG reactivity to dozens of foods that might be causing your IBS. My website can start you on the road to choosing a test that might be right for you.


Gut Health & Food Intolerances: How to Heal Your Gut

Top 5 Food Intolerance Triggers