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Do you have IBS? Here’s 5 tips for adding fiber to your diet!

Ask the Dietitan, Expert answers, General health, Gut microbiome health, Nutrition, Pendulum products

Do you have IBS? Here’s 5 tips for adding fiber to your diet!

According to the American College of Gastroenterology roughly 1 in 20 Americans struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Because there is no known cure for IBS, a focus on lifestyle interventions including changing the way you eat is often recommended. Research suggests that an increase in fiber intake may be beneficial to help relieve some of the symptoms of IBS. (1) 

While it’s always important to work with a medical provider for recommendations specific to you, here are 5 tips to get you starting to think about fiber!

 

1) Know the difference between soluble and insoluble fibers!

While IBS is often referred to as a single condition, it’s actually a group of different syndromes. IBS with constipation, or IBS-C and IBS with diarrhea, or IBS-D are some of the most common types. 

People with IBS-D may want to focus on adding soluble fiber to help relieve symptoms.

This type of fiber helps slow digestion and the rate at which carbohydrates and other nutrients are absorbed in your body. (2)  Fiber can add form to stool and make it less loose or watery. Soluble fiber can also help control your blood sugar by preventing rapid rises or spikes. You can get soluble fiber from foods like oats, beans, peas, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

People with IBS-C may want to focus on adding insoluble fiber to help relieve symptoms. 

The insoluble form of fiber helps move things through your body and provides “bulk”, helping to prevent constipation and keep you regular. You can get insoluble fiber from foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

 

2) Go LOW on HIGH FODMAP foods

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These super long words are terms for different types of carbohydrates (some of them simple sugars) that are prevalent in the diet. 

Just as some people can’t tolerate the milk sugar lactose, which is one of the disaccharides, others may not be able to tolerate inulin-type fructans or sugar alcohols, found in many sugar-free products. 

The FODMAP diet eliminates these types of high-FODMAP foods, hoping to reduce gastrointestinal distress and improve symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence. Before moving forward with limiting high FODMAP foods, check out this blog for everything you need to know!

There are ways to still include fiber while following this eating pattern. Here’s a list of some higher fiber low FODMAP foods: 

  • Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and macadamia nuts
  • Fruits: Strawberries, oranges, bananas, kiwi
  • Grains/Starches: oats, quinoa, chickpeas, ½ cup lentils, potato with the skin on 
  • Dark chocolate
  • 1/8th an avocado 

3) Have a fiber (grams) goal!

There are no guidelines specific to how much fiber people with IBS need as compared to the general population. However, if you already struggle with gut issues it would be beneficial to think about adding fiber slowly to your eating plan.  

For most people, when adding fiber into your diet a temporary period of abdominal bloating/distension, discomfort, and change in the bowel habits can occur. 

For that reason, it’s wise to start slowly adding fiber when increasing towards your personal goals by increasing roughly 5 grams each week!

 

4) Think about your microbiome

Recent studies have demonstrated that an imbalance in gut bacteria, or, “dysbiosis”, may be a contributor to IBS. Although there is still much to learn, generally eating in a way to promote a healthy microbiome includes a diet full of probiotics and prebiotics! Pendulum is actively researching the impact of our novel bacterial strains in IBS. 

 

5) Chat with an expert! 

There’s a lot of information out there on IBS and what foods you “should and shouldn’t eat”. It can be overwhelming to navigate on your own. Luckily, Pendulum has a team of registered dietitians who are here to support you on your health journey!

For Pendulum customers, we offer Nutrition Chats to help you figure out the best plan for you and your nutrition needs! Book Here! 

What’s included in the Nutrition Initial Chat? 

  • Nutrition advice - valued at $150
  • Full nutrition education based on your individualized needs
  • Answers to any questions you may have about nutrition, the microbiome, or Pendulum Glucose Control
  • Resources and handouts based on your individualized needs

 

 

Written by: Tara Karr MS, RD, LDN, CDCES 

 

 

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6347982/ 
  2. https://www.asge.org/home/for-patients/patient-information/understanding-irritable-bowel-syndrome-with-diarrhea-also-known-as-ibs-d