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Worst Trigger Foods for IBS


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) refers to a group of symptoms affecting one’s gastrointestinal tract over an extended time without evident cause. As a chronic functional disorder, IBS is characterized by “on” and “off” periods of abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, issues with digestion, constipation, or diarrhea. 

There are different types of IBS, but a common denominator is that diet plays an important role in managing how frequently these symptoms appear and their severity.  

How does diet affect IBS? 

IBS is managed primarily through diet, as symptoms are more often than not triggered by either food or stress. While tracking which foods trigger your IBS flares can help manage symptoms over time, certain foods are best avoided altogether. 

As part of your IBS treatment, a doctor or nutritionist will take a two-pronged approach to changing your diet. The first method removes foods from your diet that are generally known to trigger most IBS patients. 

Trigger Foods for IBS 

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Fatty and sugary food
  • Spicy food
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Foods high in insoluble fiber

These foods and drinks are known irritants of the dietary tract and should be avoided for patients prone to inflammation.

The second method is identifying personal trigger foods specific to your type of IBS. Patients with IBS-C (those that experience more constipation symptoms in their flare-ups) will likely have different trigger foods than patients with IBS-D or IBS-A (those experiencing diarrhea or alternating bowel movements, respectively).

Foods to avoid with IBS 

Just as dietary changes can help IBS patients manage their symptoms, there are also diets best avoided. One such example is the high-FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are a group of hard-to-digest sugars that when broken down, dehydrate the intestines and cause gas. Less water can make it difficult for food to pass easily through the body, and excess gas can lead to bloating or abdominal pain. 


Turns out an apple a day does not keep the doctor away for most patients with IBS. Apples are rich in natural sugars, but they are difficult to digest

IBS-C patients should especially be aware of the fruits they consume, as many fruits like apples, apricots, and peaches contain insoluble fiber, which may exacerbate constipation. For IBS-D and IBS-M patients, the insoluble fiber cannot be broken down as easily, resulting in increased pressure in the abdominal region, which causes pain, bloating, and cramping. 


For patients with IBS-C, white bread made from wheat is usually best avoided. White bread contains difficult-to-digest sugars, making it nutritionally inefficient and harder to pass, as well as lacking in soluble fiber, which aids in digestion and bowel movements. 

For the same reasons, IBS-D and IBS-M patients should veer away from brown bread. In addition to the high FODMAP content of the wheat used to make the bread, brown bread contains extra fiber, which may worsen cramping and other painful symptoms. This is because typical IBS-D patients suffer from abnormally fast gut movements, which cause pain and prevent food from being properly digested.

Milk & Cheese 

For all types of IBS, dairy products like milk and cheese can trigger flare-ups due to their high-fat content. Fats are hard to break down in the gut and require much more energy to digest. Especially for patients with IBS-D, fatty or greasy materials in dairy can exacerbate diarrheal symptoms and cramping.


Aside from being high in FODMAP sugars, alliums such as garlic and onions can irritate the digestive tract, causing constipation, pain in the stomach or abdominal areas, diarrhea, and other symptoms typically associated with every type of IBS.   

Alliums include:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Chives

Evinature’s tips for eating right with IBS 

Eating well, getting enough exercise, and reducing stress are all ways to manage IBS symptoms. Avoiding trigger foods and keeping a food diary noting your response to specific foods can not only empower you to take control of your health but will help your doctor and nutritionist to track what’s working. 

Exercise releases tension in the body, releasing endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that not only signal the brain to feel better and relieve stress, but studies suggest they are a key factor in reducing inflammation in the body. Finally, reducing stress and attending to your mental health will help reduce chronic cortisol levels that trigger intestinal spasms and abdominal pain. 





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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