News

6 Foods For IBS Support, According to a Dietitian

A yogurt cup next to a metal spoon on a pale blue background.

ToscaWhi/Getty

April is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) awareness month. IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas are common IBS symptoms, but people with the condition can have other symptoms as well.

IBS affects 10 to 15% of Americans.

There is no cure for IBS. The symptoms of the condition can be distressing and disruptive, but finding effective ways to manage diarrhea, constipation, and other IBS symptoms can improve a person's quality of life.

Before trying medication to treat their symptoms, many people with IBS will make change their diet and lifestyle, like reducing stress and getting physically active, to see if it helps.

If you have IBS, making changes to what you eat might be one of the first things that you try to manage the condition. Keep in mind that each person with IBS will respond differently to certain foods—some of which might trigger symptoms while others may help alleviate them.

While these six foods are dietician-recommended if you're making changes to your diet to try to better manage IBS, ultimately, you should follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider.

Cranberry

A glass of cranberry juice with ice, orange wedges, and a straw on a picnic table.
Jez Timms/Unsplash

According to a study published in PLoS One, a compound called salicylate—which is naturally found in cranberry products like cranberry juice—decreases the amount of potentially gas-producing bacteria and increases the amount of certain healthy gut bacteria that support digestive health.

One of those potentially gas-producing bacteria is E. coli, which is more prevalent in the guts of people with IBS compared to people who do not have the condition.

In some cases, the more gas-producing bacteria found in the gut, the more uncomfortable gas a person may feel.

Cranberry has also been shown to reduce rates of H. pylori infection, a bacteria that can cause gut pain and inflammation.

The results of a clinical trial published in the Journal of Gastroenterology looked at adults in China. One group of adults drank a 240 milliliter serving of cranberry juice that contained 44 milligrams of proanthocyanidins (or "PACs") for eight weeks. The other group of adults received a placebo.

The results showed that the rate of H. pylori infection in the adults who drank the PAC-containing cranberry juice was 20% lower compared to the rate in the group who drank a placebo. However, more research is needed to see if the effect would be seen in other populations.

Low FODMAP foods and drinks can be good options for people with IBS because they contain lower amounts of fermentable sugars that have been shown to cause symptoms in some people with the condition.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, cranberries are suitable for a low-FODMAP diet.

Baked and Boiled Potatoes

A pile of potatoes, one partially peeled, next to a peeler.
Peter Schad/Unsplash 

Some people with IBS find cooked potatoes are easy to digest, which is good news because baked or boiled potatoes are a natural source of nutrients like potassium.

In a 2007 study published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, researchers found that non-fried potatoes were well-tolerated in people managing IBS compared to other foods.

Depending on how well a person with IBS tolerates fiber, the skin of the potato may need to be removed before it's cooked.

Salmon 

An unseen person cutting salmon with a large knife.
Huy Phan/Pexels 

Research has shown that inflammation might play a role in the development of IBS. Studies have also shown that dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce chronic inflammation.

If you eat fish, omega 3-rich choices like salmon can be a healthful and tasty addition to your diet and may even help reduce IBS-related gut inflammation.

No-Sugar-Added Yogurt

Close up of a small glass bowl of white yogurt, with a spoonful being taken out.
Sara Cervera/Unsplash

While some people with IBS have digestive challenges when consuming dairy products, there is no conclusive link between IBS and milk protein or lactose intolerance.

If someone with IBS tolerates dairy products, plain and unsweetened Greek yogurt is a nutritious dietary addition. Greek yogurt contains live probiotics—bacteria that offer many health benefits, including for gut health.

If you are lactose intolerant, you might still be able to enjoy Greek yogurt. Its probiotics can help break down the natural sugar that causes symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Some researchers have theorized that IBS is associated with small-bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Therefore, ensuring that the gut is supplied with ample “good” bacteria can be useful in the treatment of IBS.

The exact mechanism for how probiotics might help reduce the symptoms of IBS is unknown, but the effects of probiotics on gut bacteria appear to play a role.

100% Orange Juice and Oranges

A slice orange and whole orange on a yellow-green background.
Sahand Babali/Unsplash 

Citrus, like oranges and 100% orange juice, are considered low FODMAP. A glass of 100% OJ (not a drink with added sugars) gives your body a boost of key nutrients like vitamin C and folate

Research has also shown that drinking 100% orange juice is associated with reduced inflammation, which might also help your IBS symptoms.

Cooked Greens

Close up of fresh greens.
Cats Coming/Pexels

Including cooked greens in your diet, like spinach, kale, and collards, in your diet can help support a healthy gut microflora. Some people with IBS can tolerate raw veggies just fine, but if they worsen your symptoms, cooking them can help.

When preparing your greens, you might want to avoid spicy ingredients like hot pepper flakes, which can trigger symptoms in some people with IBS.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Facts about IBS. Updated March 25, 2021.

  2. American College of Gastroenterology. IBS FAQs.

  3. O'Connor K, Morrissette M, Strandwitz P, et al. Cranberry extracts promote growth of Bacteroidaceae and decrease abundance of Enterobacteriaceae in a human gut simulator model. PLoS One. 2019 Nov 12;14(11):e0224836. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0224836

  4. Rodiño-Janeiro BK, Vicario M, Alonso-Cotoner C, et al. A review of microbiota and irritable bowel syndrome: future in therapies. Adv Ther. 2018 Mar;35(3):289-310. doi:10.1007/s12325-018-0673-5

  5. Li ZX, Ma JL, Guo Y, et al. Suppression of Helicobacter pylori infection by daily cranberry intake: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. Published online August 11, 2020. doi:10.1111/jgh.15212

  6. American College of Gastroenterology. Low-FODMAP diet: overview. Updated March 30, 2021.

  7. MacDermott RP. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in outpatients with inflammatory bowel disease using a food and beverage intolerance, food and beverage avoidance diet. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2007 Jan;13(1):91-6. doi:10.1002/ibd.20048

  8. Ng QX, Soh AYS, Loke W, Lim DY, Yeo WS. The role of inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). J Inflamm Res. 2018 Sep 21;11:345-349. doi:10.2147/JIR.S174982

  9. Calder PC. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochem Soc Trans. 2017 Oct 15;45(5):1105-1115. doi:10.1042/BST20160474

  10. Cancarevic I, Rehman M, Iskander B, Lalani S, Malik BH. Is there a correlation between irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance? Cureus. 2020 Jan 20;12(1):e6710. doi:10.7759/cureus.6710

  11. Aragon G, Graham DB, Borum M, Doman DB. Probiotic therapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2010 Jan;6(1):39-44. PMID: 20567539

  12. Dourado GK, Cesar TB. Investigation of cytokines, oxidative stress, metabolic, and inflammatory biomarkers after orange juice consumption by normal and overweight subjects. Food Nutr Res. 2015 Oct 20;59:28147. doi:10.3402/fnr.v59.28147