Control Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): The Diet

Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Many Theories.  No Cause.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Can Diet Help Control Symptoms FODMAP.Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is prevalent in modern society.  Although it is found in small towns, its incidence seems to be higher in large metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, as well as in smaller but robust cities such as Beverly Hills, Culver City and West Hollywood. Unfortunately, although much is known about symptoms and diagnosis, little is known about its cause.  Theories abound for causation such as diet, genetics, infections, psychological disorders and toxins.  None has stood the rigorous test of scientific evaluation.

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Symptoms of IBS include diarrhea alternating with constipation, or one of these occurring predominantly over the other.  IBS is a common malady seen by every proctologist.

Symptoms Abound.

There are presenting signs that may help secure the diagnosis.  They are:

  • Age greater than 50 years old
  • Weight loss
  • Symptoms beginning after an infection
  • Stress
  • A family history of colitis
  • Signs of bodily infection

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Blood in the bowel movement (hematochezia)
  • Bloating or distention
  • Gastro esophageal reflux disease
  • Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, headache, backache, depression anxiety
  • Diarrhea, constipation or both.
  • Possible decreased libido (sexual drive)

Cure?  Not Yet.  Control? Yes.

There is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome.  However, many patients afflicted with this frustrating malady report that adjusting the diet by adding or removing various foodstuffs greatly helps to decrease the symptoms.

Although many people remove lactose from the diet and report feeling better, controlled studies have shown no relationships between IBS and lactose intolerance.

Similarly, some have found relief by removing foods from the diet, feeling that the cause is a possible food allergy.  Again, there is no data to reliably support a food allergy as either a cause of, for relief of IBS.


Colon and rectal surgeons, also known as proctologists or colorectal surgeons, have reported that the FODMAP diet brings relief in up to an 80% symptom reduction.  FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.   Briefly, FODMAP are small sugars and alcohols that are not well absorbed from the intestine.  Some of the better known sugars and alcohols with which many patients are familiar include fructose, lactose, mannitol, sorbitol  and galactose.

Most people have difficulty absorbing the members of the FODMAP family of sugars and alcohols.  But relatively few, those suffering from the symptoms of IBS, may have greater difficulty than non-IBS people.  The FODMAP sugars and alcohols usually pass undigested into the large intestine, where they are fermented and produce gas.  The gas, in turn, causes bloating and the other classic symptoms of the disease.  It is theorized that removing the FODMAP elements from a diet may greatly decrease the symptoms of IBS.  By reading the contents and packaging labels of all of the foods that  you buy will give you an idea of which foods contain FODMAPS.

Additionally, adding soluble fiber to the diet seems to help.  Insoluble fiber does not help and may make matters worse.  Various medications may help as well.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

With all of the information available, one of the specialists at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates may be able to help you.  A confidential consultation may be all that is needed to start patients on the path toward symptom reduction in this pesky disease.  Education goes a long way.  (310)273-2310

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