Food and Drinks To Avoid When You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Since there is no cure for IBS, patients strive to manage their symptoms and look for effective treatments to ease their suffering. Here are some ways in dealing with the condition.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the intestine.

The condition does not cause actual damage to the bowels, but the symptoms can be unpleasant and may interfere with the individual’s ability to enjoy life as normal.

Those with IBS may have to deal with pain and discomfort in the abdominal area. They might also suffer from frequent episodes of diarrhoea or constipation.

It is believed that about 20 percent of people will have to deal with the symptoms of IBS at some point in their life.

People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) must be very cautious about what they ingest.

Since there is no cure for IBS, patients strive to manage their symptoms and look for effective treatments to ease their suffering.

An aspect overlooked by almost all medical care professionals is the relationship between spinal health (nervous system communication) and digestive health.

Food and Drinks To Avoid When You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Some experts spend time researching nutrients and foods based causes. Others look for a connection between emotional health and the bowels. Very few researchers or professionals are aware of the SPINE-GUT relationship.

Research from 2007* proved a direct link between the structure and function of the neck and the health of the gastro-intestinal system.

Science backing this study shows that irritation (subluxation) of the cervical vertebrae interferes with the nervous system by reaching the brain cortex and creating a sympathetic irritability.

Heightened irritability in the nervous system leads to unwanted symptoms in a number of areas, including digestion.

Relaxation of the nervous system promotes proper digestion and efficient absorption and removal of waste.

Chiropractors see TREMENDOUS results with patients suffering from digestive complaints through the power of removing nervous system interference with specific spinal adjustments.

Rather than surgical or medicinal solutions to a symptom, a Chiropractic adjustment serves to promote optimal nervous system health. The removal of interference to the nervous system allows the body to heal and function as designed.

Chiropractic treatment is known to not only restore balance to the body, but also to reduce stress, which is one of the main culprits of IBS symptoms.

In the meantime, here are my top 10 tips for dealing with your IBS to reduce pain:

1) Keep a food record.
Food and Drinks To Avoid When You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This will help you identify your “trigger” foods and help you avoid these foods.

It will also help you establish consistency in your diet and you will have something to review to monitor your progress.

2) Drink LOTS of water!

Drink a minimum of 1 litre of water a day (here are my 7 tips on how to increase your water intake)

3) Limit the Caffeine!

Caffeine stimulates the muscles in the digestive tract and can cause problems for people with sensitive colons.

Caffeine is most commonly consumed as coffee, soft drinks, regular tea, and energy drinks.
Caffeine will stimulate your colon about 30-60 minutes after you drink it and it also stimulates your kidneys to release more water into your bladder.

4) Avoid high fat meals and snacks.

High fat foods can irritate the colon and are harder to digest. Fat is better tolerated when eaten in small amounts. Avoid or test to see if they are triggers: egg yolks, fried foods, coconut milk, oils, shortenings, butter and margarine (may be tolerated in small amounts)

Choose lower fat options:

Limit Red Meat: beef, pork lamb

Eat more chicken, turkey, fish, and other seafood (avoid poultry dark meat and eating the skin)

Food and Drinks To Avoid When You Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

5) Watch out for spices

Some people with IBS tend to not tolerate spicy foods…some spices to watch out for as triggers are:

•Hot Sauce

•Spicy Barbecue Sauce

•Chili Powder

•Hot chili peppers

•Garlic, Curry, or Ginger

6) Avoid overdoing alcohol!

Alcohol and IBS are not a good combination. Alcohol can greatly increase the severity of the symptoms. Even one alcoholic drink can be enough to trigger an attack of IBS, as alcohol is a toxic substance that acts as an irritant on the bowel.

Some alcoholic drinks seem to be more likely to cause problems than others. Alcohol stimulates the digestive tract by getting your digestive juices flowing, so it can cause heartburn, stomach pain, and diarrhoea.

Make sure to keep alcohol intake moderate:

•One drink per day for women, and no more than two per day for men

•You can always order a fancy drink without alcohol such as, a Virgin Daiquiri, Margarita, or Bloody Mary or try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime!

7) Avoid gassy foods.
These foods tend to cause increased gas formation, which can cause abdominal pain and bloating

•Dried beans and peas: black eyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, lentils, split peas

•Raw vegetables

•These vegetables can be problematic even cooked: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, corn, onions, red/green peppers, turnips

•Some fruits cause trouble: apples (with peel), avocados, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, prunes, watermelon

•Other foods: beer, seeds, hard boiled eggs, soft drinks, nuts, popcorn

8) Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

•Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhoea. Eating smaller meals reduces the intestinal load and helps with digestion.

•Don’t skip meals. Establish a regular meal routine…your intestines like routines!

•Eat a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours, so that you never get too hungry or too stuffed.

•Be especially careful when eating out. Restaurants tend to give very large portions. Try an appetizer portion, take ½ home or split the meal with a friend.

9) Get Moving!

Exercise is a powerful stress reducer!

It also helps to get things going in your intestines and helps avoid constipation.

Getting started is the hardest part, but once you give it a chance you will feel the benefits…more energy, less constipation, and better sleep.

It is recommended that adults get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

10) Chill out and stress less

Developing a good support network of family and friends can be highly beneficial. Even if they are not able to offer practical help with a problem they can still provide emotional support.

People will usually have a higher tolerance for stress when they feel supported by friends and family.

If people find that stress has become a problem in their life they might benefit from therapy. A good therapist can help the individual examine the root causes of their stress, and provide guidance for how to improve the situation.

Keeping a journal is also useful as a tool for combating stress. Just writing things down can be therapeutic as it acts as an outlet for worries and concerns.

Relaxation techniques can be highly effective for helping people to deal with stress. Something as simple as yoga breathing exercises can be of benefit. Most of these relaxation techniques can be performed anywhere.


Meditation is a wonderful tool for dealing with stress. It not only helps people unwind, but it can also increase the individual’s ability to handle stress as it arises.

Meditation in particular can work well for people who wish to improve their own ability to manage stress.

*World Journal of Gastroenterology
2007 May 14; 13(18): 2575–2580.
“A preliminary study of neck-stomach syndrome”
Xing-Hua Song, Xiao-Xiong Xu, Li-Wen Ding, Li Cao, Alken Sadel, and Hao Wen

2 Responses

  1. Of all of the searches I have conducted over the past few weeks this article relating to IBS is by far the best. I have been in hospital 3 times in the last 10 months and all tests were clear . But not even my Doctor spoke about IBS…..but I did find your article helpful…..many thanks….. Gerard Walsh.

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Dr. Benjamin Martin is a Chiropractor and speaker on Health and Wellbeing. Ben is regularly called on to discuss health topics and chiropractic on radio, tv and press. His promise is to adjust and educate as many families as possible towards optimal health. His work changes lives and has restored people's quality of life.
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