Surprising IBS Triggers Sufferers Should Know About

February 14, 2018  |  
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I’ve been an irritable bowel sufferer for over a decade. When it comes to alleviating symptoms, I’ve tried it all. I’ve gone gluten-free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, yeast-free, sugar-free, soy-free, and raw. What I’ve learned is that, at the end of the day, if you have finicky intestines you have finicky intestines. Finding a diet that’s gentle on your digestive tract is certainly helpful, but your system practically looks for a reason to act up. All you have to do is eat a tiny portion of the wrong thing, and your body will punish you as if you ate nothing but steak and cheese for a week. In reality, you may have just had two pancakes, or a pasta sauce you didn’t realize had cream in it. The best diet in the world won’t stop some things from triggering your symptoms. Here are hidden IBS triggers sufferers should know about.

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Menstruation

A woman’s gastrointestinal cells do contain estrogen receptors, and these can act up to the fluctuation of hormones that occurs during menstruation. Many women with IBS state that their symptoms are worse when they’re on their period.

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Ripe bananas

Bananas and IBS have a finicky relationship. In general, bananas can regulate digestion, help with intestinal muscle function, and alleviate constipation. But ripe bananas have too much sugar for someone with IBS. If you’re a sufferer, stick to light yellow ones.

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Chocolate

Try pure cacao nibs or dark chocolate if you must have your cocoa fix. Milk chocolate is high in sugar, contains milk, and is dehydrating—all of these components together are a recipe for IBS symptoms.

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Asparagus

Those with healthy digestive tracts report that asparagus actually keeps them regular, but, sadly, that’s not the case for IBS sufferers. Asparagus contains certain compounds that cause excess gas in the digestive tract and can lead to bloating and constipation.

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Some mushrooms

If you love Portobello burgers, it may be time to swap those out for a different type of fungi. Certain mushrooms—like Portobello, fresh button, fresh shitake, Enoki, and Swiss Brown—are High FODMAP foods. They contain saccharides that can upset the intestinal tract. Stick to dried shitake, dried porcini, canned champignon, black fungi, or oyster mushrooms.

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Artificial sweeteners

We usually think about bulk foods when we think of IBS triggers, but just a little spoonful of artificial sweetener can cause your IBS symptoms to flare up.

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Green peppers

Oddly enough, red bell peppers are fine to eat with IBS—in fact, they’re a Low FODMAP food. But green peppers can be triggers.

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Corn

Corn is high in sugar and difficult to digest, making it a major IBS trigger. If you need a new barbecue side, switch to baked potatoes.

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Fried food

Fried food is trouble on many fronts. First off, it’s typically made with tons of saturated fat. Second, it usually contains some sort of a batter—which is made from gluten—which sticks to your intestines.

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Caramelized food

Love adding caramelized onions to your burger? Unfortunately, those onions become caramelized through sugar. Oh, also, onions—raw or not—are High FODMAP foods and should be avoided.

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Fruit juice concentrate

In case you haven’t gotten the hint yet, when you have IBS, your digestive tract hates sugar. Even fresh-squeezed juice can be too high in stuff, but juice from concentrate is particularly problematic.

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Sorghum

Many IBS sufferers know that gluten is a trigger, so they switch to baked goods and cereals made from the gluten-free grain Sorghum. The sad news is that this grain can actually be an IBS trigger, too.

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Crackers

While a stack of crackers may be just the thing after a bout of the stomach flu or food poisoning, it’s not quite as soothing for IBS sufferers. Reach for gluten-free toast when you have a stomach ache.

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Soy sauce

If you don’t know yet, soy sauce contains gluten. If you did know that, a lot of foods contain soy sauce that we don’t even realize, like many store-bought sauces and salad dressings.

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Protein bars

Protein bars are generally off-limits for IBS sufferers. They have a long list of hazardous ingredients that can contain gluten, artificial sweeteners, casein, and dairy.

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