Top 12 Ingredients to Put In an IBS-Friendly Smoothie

When they're done right, smoothies are a great way to pack a powerful nutritional punch in a quick, easy, portable meal. They allow you to take in larger amounts of certain superfoods than you could if you merely ate them. This includes those great-for-your-health green leafy vegetables.

Smoothies are a nice option if you have IBS or other digestive problems. Plant fiber is pulverized when blended and therefore may be easier for your digestive system to handle.

The "good guy" bacteria in your gut will be thrilled by the increase in the number of plant foods that smoothies provide. Happy, healthy gut bacteria are less likely to cause abdominal pain, gas and bloating and motility problems.

Having an optimal bacterial balance in your belly is also good for your overall health.

Keep Your Smoothie Healthy

One potential downside of smoothies is that if they're too sweet, they can have a not-so-healthy impact on blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain. You can avoid this by including lots of high fiber foods and avoiding high-sugar ingredients.

Smoothy ingredients should be good for your gut and IBS-friendly. Play around with different ingredients and listen to your own intuition as to which foods will be the yummiest and healthiest for you.

Here's a look at a dozen great options.

Non-Dairy Milk

Various Types Of Milk Bottles Against Black Background
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Smoothies need a liquid base. You can certainly just use water, but you may want the taste or nutrients of milk.

Cow's milk contains high levels of lactose, which can cause belly symptoms in people who are lactose intolerant.

Soy and rice milks are considered to be high FODMAPs foods, meaning that they can worsen symptoms in people who have IBS, and therefore should be avoided.

The following non-dairy milks are belly-friendly options:

  • Almond milk 
  • Coconut milk (limit 1/2 cup)
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk (limit 1/8 cup)

Depending on how many frozen items you're adding, and how much of a slushy-consistency you like, you may want to round out your smoothie with ice.

Kefir

Whole milk kefir in a bowl
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Kefir is a fermented food made from milk.

Like other fermented foods, kefir is filled with a wide variety of probiotics—those "friendly" bacteria that are so good for digestive and overall health. Although kefir does come from animal milk, the fermentation process results in a low-lactose product.

Kefir differs from yogurt in that it contains a wider variety of bacteria strains as well as some yeast. In addition to all its gut flora-enhancing qualities, kefir is a great source of many essential vitamins.

You could skip non-dairy milks entirely and try kefir with water as your go-to smoothie base.

Kefir's FODMAP content hasn't yet been tested by Monash University. Because of its low-lactose level, it might be fine. To be on the safe side, though, if you have IBS, you may want to test kefir in small quantities and watch for symptoms.

Banana

banana

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With their velvety texture, bananas make a great base for any smoothie. They're a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They're considered low-FODMAP and therefore should not set off any belly symptoms.

One great feature is that smoothies are a great way to enjoy bananas that have become over-ripe. Just take off the skin and freeze them to have a great cold base for your smoothies.

Leafy Greens

green leafy vegetables

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Now we're talking!

The whole point of drinking smoothies for health is to get in more nutrients than you could by eating them. You may be amazed at the amount of energy you experience when you begin to add leafy greens to your smoothies.

Almost any leafy green will be good for your digestive health, but here are the ones that have been identified as low in FODMAPs and therefore less likely to set off unwanted symptoms:

  • Baby spinach
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard

If you're new to adding greens to your smoothie, you may want to start with the milder-flavored spinach and then work your way through the others.

Frozen Berries

pile of berries

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Berries are good for your brain and your belly. Frozen organic berries are great for smoothies.

Frozen berries have several advantages.

  • Especially if you use frozen banana, you will have no need for ice.
  • They're available in your freezer any time you are looking for a quick, healthy, belly-friendly meal or snack.
  • Frozen produce is picked at the height of ripeness, so you get the maximum amounts of nutrients.

By contrast, fruits and vegetables in the produce section are picked when they will best travel—not necessarily when they're chock-full of nutrients.​

If your budget allows, buy organic, because you don't want to expose your sensitive digestive system to pesticides if you can help it. Locally grown fruit is another great option as small farmers can rely on more traditional methods than soaking plants in chemicals.

Low-FODMAP berries include:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries

If you have IBS, you may want to avoid blackberries if you know that you are reactive to polyols, a type of FODMAP.

Warning: Berries will turn your smoothie a funky brown color. It's still delicious, but the color may take some getting used to.

Your Favorite Fruits

fruit salad

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You don't have to limit yourself to just berries. Most fruit makes a great contribution to a delicious smoothie—frozen or not.

You just want to make sure that you are balancing your smoothie out with green leafy vegetables and some of the healthy fats below so your smoothie isn't too high in sugar.

IBS-Friendly Fruits

The following low-FODMAP fruits would earn my seal of approval for a belly-friendly smoothie:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lime
  • Papaya (paw paw)
  • Pineapple

Nut Butter

almond butter

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Healthy fats are another way to slow the rise in blood sugar from all of the fruit that you might be putting in your smoothie.

Nut butters not only fit that bill but add a delicious flavor to your smoothies. You don't need much—just a tablespoon will do. Your best choices are peanut butter or almond butter.

Cashews are high in FODMAPs, so best to skip that type.

Coconut Oil

Raw White Organic Coconut OIl with coconuts set atop a table

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Coconut oil is another healthy form of fat. It can:

  • Help slow down the absorption of fruit into your ​bloodstream
  • Enhance your heart health
  • Help you better absorb all of the vitamins and minerals from the produce in your smoothies 

It works well to add approximately 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothies.

Avocado

Whole and sliced avocado on wood
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Another healthy-fat recommendation is the amazing avocado.

Even if you don't love the taste of avocados, try them in your smoothies. In addition to being a plant-based source of protein and offering you lots of nutrients, they add a lush texture to your smoothie.

The only downside to avocados is that, for someone with IBS, only 1/8 of a whole is considered low-FODMAP. But this is the beauty of smoothies! Cut an avocado into eight parts and freeze seven of them, and now they're on hand for the foreseeable future.

A Little Sweetener

Maple syrup on ice
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Between the bananas, berries, and other fruits you may have included, your smoothies may be sweet enough.

However, if you just need a little more sweetness to counteract the taste of your greens, you can add in a little sweetener.

Although the evidence is far from conclusive, honey may offer some antibacterial and anti-allergy benefits.

However, it's high in FODMAP fructose and therefore not a good option if you have fructose malabsorption. If that is the case, maple syrup may be a better pick. Just remember to only use a few drops!

If you find that you down your smoothies very quickly, that is a sign that they are too sweet. Try to play around with the amount of sweetener that you use so that you can keep it to a minimum.

Cacao

cacao powder

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Because the universe is a wonderful place, cacao (raw chocolate) is really good for you!

For our intents and purposes here, it is good to know that cacao may actually have prebiotic qualities. This means it's a food that "feeds" the good-guy bacteria in your gut. And it tastes so good!

The problem with most chocolate is that it contains added sugar and, often, unhealthy forms of fat. However, cacao powder has all of the wonderful health qualities of chocolate, without the downsides.

Unfortunately, cacao on its own is bitter. That's why candy makers add sugar. 

In a smoothie, however, you can get the taste and health benefits of chocolate because the bitterness is set off by the other ingredients. Cacao powder is also low in FODMAPs, so no worries there.

Feel free to add a heaping tablespoon and enjoy your delicious elixir.

Chia, Flax, and Hemp Seeds

chia, hemp and flaxseed

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Smoothies are a great vehicle for taking in the fiber benefits of:

All three are nutritional powerhouses. Both chia and flaxseed are thought to add in optimal stool formation—always a good thing!

Each type of seeds is also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the healthy functioning of so many of the cells of our bodies.

Chia and hemp seeds can be added directly to your smoothies. Flaxseed needs to be ground first in order for you to enjoy its health benefits. (For best results, keep your seeds in the refrigerator. This is especially important to keep ground flaxseed from spoiling.)

Start with a tablespoon of whichever one appeals to you most to allow your body time to adjust. You can then work your way up to a tablespoon of each as a great way to round out your belly-friendly smoothie!

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