Can diet modification improve IBS symptoms?
Most patients report that certain foods exacerbate their symptoms and some have adopted an inappropriately restrictive diet. Dietary history can help to determine if a significant correlation exists between a particular food and IBS symptoms. If a correlation exists, the offending food should be eliminated from the diet to discover if symptoms resolve. Resolution of symptoms suggests, but does not confirm, a diagnosis of a causal relationship between the food and IBS.
Diets deficient in fiber (e.g., fruits, vegetables, and grains) may help to explain constipation. Diets with excessive amounts of gas-producing foods (e.g., beans, cabbage, legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, lentils, and Brussels sprouts), poorly absorbed carbohydrates (e.g., fructose or sorbitol), or lactose in patients who are lactose intolerant, may explain excessive flatus, bloating, or diarrhea. Excessive air swallowing, which commonly occurs in people who smoke, chew gum, or eat rapidly, may help explain excessive flatulence. Diets consisting of large fatty meals or caffeine may help explain postprandial rectal urgency and bowel frequency.