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Can Garlic Trigger IBS?

Garlic & IBS

Garlic has sparked quite a debate in the world of gastrointestinal health. While garlic is a staple kitchen remedy for colds and a popular probiotic food, it can be difficult to digest for IBS patients. 

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal discomfort, bloating, and bowel habit alterations. This can involve constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two. Medical experts believe that various factors, such as diet, stress, and gut hypersensitivity, play significant roles in triggering symptoms of IBS, although the exact cause is still unknown.

For the millions affected by IBS, everyday life—especially mealtime—becomes a challenge, so it’s important to understand how different foods impact IBS in general, and how they impact you individually.  

Is garlic bad for IBS? 

Throughout history, garlic has been used for its broad range of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, potential heart health advantages, and the ability to boost the immune system. 

But for IBS patients, garlic may hurt more than it helps. Garlic is high in FODMAP content, meaning it belongs to a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are difficult to digest, often triggering GI discomfort in IBS patients. 

Garlic contains fructans, a type of oligosaccharide, which is very difficult for the small intestine to absorb properly. This can cause symptoms like painful gas and bloating, even when cooked. 

How to eat garlic with IBS 

While there is clear evidence that garlic worsens IBS symptoms, it may be tolerated by some when consumed the right way. For instance, fermented garlic may elicit different responses than the raw or cooked variety because of variations in its FODMAP constitution.

If you’re in the restriction phase of the Low-FODMAP Diet, it’s best to avoid garlic altogether. Once you’re in the reintroduction phase, test your tolerance with small amounts of garlic and see how your body responds. 

Moderation is essential, as always. IBS patients should introduce garlic slowly and observe their body’s reactions. Sticking to a low FODMAP serving size might be the sweet spot for some. 

FODMAP-Friendly Alternatives to Garlic 

One alternative to garlic is cooking with raw garlic shoots, which are lower in FODMAP content up to a serving of 6 tablespoons. Spring onions are also low FODMAP – but only use the green top, as the white bulb contains fructose and fructans. 

Many use garlic-infused oil or cook garlic in oil and remove the pieces before serving. The oil will retain the garlic flavor without the fructans from the garlic bulb. Ginger may be a helpful substitute, as it has many soothing benefits to gut health. 

Our Tips & Recommendations 

While garlic does exert beneficial properties on overall health, it can exasperate symptoms in those with IBS. Note your reactions to garlic; if something doesn’t feel right, substitute with garlic oil, spring onions, or ginger. 

If ever in doubt, it’s always best to seek the guidance of your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician. Healthcare practitioners versed in nutritional management can help patients navigate the intricacies of a garlic-inclusive diet while keeping IBS symptoms in check. 




This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. The claims made regarding specific products in this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.


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