Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a commonly diagnosed digestive disorder that results in discomfort and abdominal pain, usually linked to food that has just been consumed.

These symptoms can also be accompanied by diarrhoea, constipation and bloating, but it doesn’t have to be something that you put up with. Those affected by IBS should avoid the following seven foods or ingredients. 

1. Fatty foods 

Fatty foods, such as fried items, can cause strong contractions in the colon, leading to bouts of diarrhoea and stomach pain. Limit the amount of fried food, such as steak or fries, in your diet to reduce the risk of IBS affecting you on a regular basis. Reducing your intake of fat, through foods such as oil, butter and cheese, will improve the situation. 

2. Spicy food 

Capsaicin, an active component in chilli peppers, causes spasms of the large intestine, which causes stomach pain and diarrhoea. Try to eliminate too much spicy food from your diet, and, if you really can’t stop, consume in small doses only!  

3. Caffeine and alcohol 

Moderate to high levels of caffeine can make IBS symptoms worse, so try to avoid coffee (or drink decaf) and too many cups of tea! If you do fancy one from time to time, be sure to use a lot of water to make it. When it comes to alcohol, the same applies. It can affect digestion negatively.  

4. Artificial sweeteners 

Most artificial sweeteners contain sorbitol and mannitol, which act as a mild laxative. Eating such substances daily can cause intestinal gas and diarrhoea. Limiting these artificial sweeteners will make a difference. Don’t forget to check the ingredients on chewing gum packets as they often contain lots of them.  

5. Foods that ferment 

All foods that ferment tend to cause wind that can be far more painful than it sounds. This is true for legumes, such as lentils, beans and chickpeas, and certain vegetables, including such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Garlic and onion can also have similar effects on some people, so try to avoid them if that’s the case for you.  

6. Red meat 

Red meat takes a long time to digest, thus it stays in the body longer and can create stomach pain. Therefore, many people recommend avoiding red meats as much as possible. Of course, if you love these dishes, you don’t have to eliminate them entirely. You could reduce the portion size or frequency of them appearing on your menu. 

7. Dairy products 

Dairy products can intensify IBS symptoms, causing diarrhoea and constipation. Try to reduce the amount of dairy products and cheeses in your diet. Instead of having cow milk and associated products, try almond, coconut or soy milk, yoghurts and other substitutes. There are so many fantastic dairy-free options on the market now, thanks to the rise of veganism. Some people also find that dairy products made from untreated goat’s milk are preferable and less harmful.  

It may seem difficult at first to consider a complete overhaul of your diet in order to improve your IBS. However, once you establish positive habits, it’ll be much easier for you. Though it will take your body a little while to adapt, you’ll soon reap the benefits and be feeling much brighter.