Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Diet

You can learn to follow a diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) to relieve symptoms and prevent future flareups. If you follow the right diet you might be able to head off Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the first place.

Follow these diet guidelines to help you manage IBD:

  1. Keep a food and symptom diary to help keep track of the foods you eat.
  2. Read labels. Before anything goes into your body, read the label. This includes over the counter medicines.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol and artificial fat such as olestra. Sorbitol is found in a surprising number of foods and over the counter medications.
  4. Avoid coffee. I know-you can’t live without your coffee, but I bet once the caffeine withdrawals are over, your IBD symptoms will improve.
  5. Avoid dairy if you’re lactose intolerant (See my article on lactose intolerance below to determine if you’re lactose intolerant).
  6. Avoid red meat. This is another tough one, but many people with IBD find their symptoms are triggered by red meat.
  7. Avoid fried foods. This one is almost a no-brainer. Anything deep-fried is not going to be good for you or your guts.
  8. Avoid large meals. Eating smaller meals more frequently, or “grazing” throughout the day may help symptoms. Many people find that IBD symptoms are worse after a heavy meal.
  9. Eat low fat. This is good advice for anyone, and especially for IBD. Fat is not absorbed well in the digestive tract, and can lead to diarrhea.
  10. If gas is a problem for you, avoid gassy foods such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, and garlic.

Insoluble Fiber – Detrimental for IBD

Insoluble fiber is generally bad for IBD sufferers. This is the type of fiber that most people would associate with a high fiber diet. Examples of this type of fiber include:

  1. Sweet corn
  2. Wheat bran/wholemeal bread/bran flakes etc.
  3. Skin peeling of vegetables
  4. Cabbage
  5. Broccoli

This type of fiber passes through the whole of the digestive tract without being digested – and has a tendency to adhere to the wall of the colon when it is inflamed. This irritates the colon – and hence will aggravate any IBD.

Soluble Fiber – Beneficial for IBD

Soluble fiber is very helpful for IBD in that it is broken down/digested in the large intestine/colon. This produces a soft stool and good motions – but does not produce the type of particles that adhere to the bowel wall and cause inflammation. Good examples of soluble fiber include:

  1. The body of fruits – e.g. peeled apples, peeled pears
  2. Peeled Vegetables – e.g. peeled potatoes and carrots
  3. White rice
  4. Oat bran

Those that suffer from IBD should avoid excessive amounts of dairy products such as cheese/cream etc. It is recommended to limit intake to 2-3 ounces in a day. Excessive intake of lactose may contribute to GI upset.

There are a number of foods that are best avoided during a flare-up of IBD. These are mainly food that either include a high amount of insoluble fiber of lactose containing foods.

  1. Cabbage/sprouts
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Broccoli
  4. Sweet Corn
  5. Greasy foods
  6. High Bran fiber items – such as wholemeal bread, and high fiber cereal
  7. Onions – especially raw onions
  8. Tomatoes – especially the seeds
  9. Soy Protein (TVP)
  10. Cheese/cream (tends to cause excess acid/irritation in the gut)
  11. Regular milk
  12. Ice Cream