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Fiber can trigger or alleviate IBS symptoms

Fiber can trigger or alleviate IBS symptoms

When it comes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it's difficult  to navigate all the information and truly understand the cause of symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea.  Because influencing factors, such as diet, stress and other triggers, can vary from person to person, it's hard to know what works for you.

Take fiber, for example.  For some people, fiber can help boost regularity and offer digestive help.  But for others, it is an IBS trigger.  One way to pin down your specific triggers is to try an elimination diet.

What can you do?

“In most cases of IBS I recommend a dose of water-soluble fiber once daily,” said Michelle Garvey, PA, of Monroe Clinic’s gastroenterology department.  “For people with constipation we often advise a high fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. With diarrhea-dominant symptoms we will begin with dairy or lactose elimination, typically for two weeks.”

Garvey says a gluten free or FODMAP diet may also be considered. “Some carbs, sugars are hard for people to process,” said Garvey.

While many people can better manage their IBS through lifestyle changes, it's important to check in with your doctor if you're struggling with any ongoing symptoms, including:

 Most Common IBS Symptoms:

  • abdominal pain or cramping that is often relieved after bowel movement
  • change in frequency or consistency of stool

Other Possible IBS Symptoms:

  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • feeling full early in the meal
  • nausea
  • feelings of urgency
  • feelings that bowels are not emptied after bowel movement

"A medical professional can determine an IBS diagnosis and guide you through lifestyle changes and, if needed, medical treatments," said Garvey. "However, if you experience anemia, blood in stools, unexplained weight loss or fever, it's important to know these are not normal IBS symptoms and you should immediately discuss them with your provider."

If you think you may have IBS, or need help managing your condition, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with your primary care provider.