Irritable Bowel Syndrome High Fiber Diet
If you've been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome you might be struggling to figure out the best way to manage your symptoms through your diet. While a irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) high fiber diet won't necessarily work for everything, it may be helpful for those who struggle with chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Read on to discover more about IBS, how fiber can help, and the top five foods to eat for managing IBS symptoms and flare-ups.
How Can Fiber Help?
The recommended daily intake of fiber for an adult is between 25–35 grams, though historically we would have likely been consuming much more than this. Some estimates place the average daily intake of fiber as low as 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day.
When it comes to helping with digestive issues associated with IBS, fiber can be a great help, though it’s important to eat the right types. Some fibers, such as insoluble fibers from certain grains, could be more irritating to the digestive system, while other soluble sources can be beneficial.
Fiber also helps to feed the microbiome, which in turn can improve digestive function. If you are eating a low-fiber diet, I always recommend starting to slowly incorporate these foods into your diet, so you don't overwhelm your digestive system. Going too quickly can lead to more gas, bloating, and discomfort, so take your time and test out the foods that are right for you.
5 Foods to Eat for an Irritable Bowel Syndrome High Fiber Diet
One caveat when it comes to incorporating more fiber into your diet: there are certain classes of fiber called fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) that can increase symptoms of IBS. They are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. This poor absorption makes them prone to absorbing water and fermenting in the colon, which can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
All the high-fiber foods recommended below will be low in FODMAPs.
1. Chia Seeds
One of the most common recommendations I make to my clients with IBS or other digestive issues is a pudding made from ground chia seeds. These seeds are rich in a soluble, mucilaginous fiber that can be less irritating to the bowel than insoluble fibers from some vegetables and grains. Chia seeds contain close to five grams of fiber per tablespoon, which means a little goes a long way.
The fiber found in chia seeds can give some bulk to your stool, while also feeding beneficial bacteria. These little power seeds are also packed with protein and essential fatty acids. These EFAs can help with inflammation in the digestive tract and throughout the body.
I like to grind my chia seeds and mix them with dairy-free milk (the lactose can often make IBS symptoms worse), a bit of honey, cinnamon, and berries for a delicious and gut-loving snack! You can also grind them and add them to smoothies or baked goods for a little fiber boost.
2. Flax Seeds
Like chia seeds, flax seeds are a wonderful source of soluble fiber. They contain about two grams of fiber per tablespoon plus two grams of essential fatty acids. I don't find flax seeds make a good pudding snack, but they are great ground up and added to smoothies, baked goods, or oatmeal.
If you're vegan, you can often use them to replace eggs in your recipes since that mucilaginous fiber is a great binding agent.
Oats are one of the few grains that are low in FODMAPs and high in soluble fiber, which makes them a great addition to an IBS diet. This fiber can help to regulate bowel movements and help you feel full. Just 100 grams of oats contain about ten grams of total fiber, approximately half of which is insoluble.
You can make your oatmeal into granola, muffins, pancakes, or straight-up porridge. Try combining it with your favorite dairy-free milk, pumpkin seeds, and berries for an IBS-friendly breakfast or snack.
Not only are berries packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, but they are also a wonderful source of soluble fiber. One cup of strawberries has about three grams of fiber, while one cup of blueberries has about 3.6 grams of fiber.
They make a great snack on their own or you can add them to your smoothies, chia pudding, baked goods, or oatmeal to get all the benefits.
5. Black Beans
These beans are a great addition to the diet since they contain about 15 grams of fiber per cup, putting you close to your daily intake in one serving! They contain a fiber called pectin, which is also found in the skins of apples and pears, that has a gel-like texture in water. It can slow the emptying of your stomach and help you to stay full for a longer period.
Black beans are also a great source of protein, and you can use them in sweet or savory dishes. I love them in brownies or as a taco or burrito filling.
If you have IBS and want to incorporate black beans into your diet, then you will want to properly prep them first.
- Soak them overnight then rinse them completely clean.
- Once rinsed, cook them with a little baking soda and a strip of kombu (a type of seaweed).
- This process will help reduce the amounts of galactans, which can cause gas and bloating in some people.
So, there you have it: an introduction to starting an irritable bowel syndrome high fiber diet plan. It may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll find there are many ways to incorporate these foods into everyday meals. And remember, if you have any concerns, be sure to consult your doctor or dietician.