Why Raw Vegetables May Be Aggravating Your IBS

Does eating raw vegetables aggravate IBS? It's a common question, and there really is no evidence that answers it definitively either way. What is known is that many people dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seem to think so. Before you eat that next salad, let's examine how and why vegetables may provoke IBS symptoms.

Woman cutting vegetables
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Why Might Vegetables Irritate IBS?

To date, there is no clinical evidence that raw vegetables do or do not worsen IBS symptoms. However, there may be something to the idea, because so many people with IBS complain about bloating, gas, constipation, and even diarrhea after eating raw veggies.

There are a few reasons why this may be true. Certainly, uncooked vegetables require more work on the part of the digestive system. It has to break down food components and deal with the fiber content of the produce. The heat from cooking starts this process, so raw foods take more effort to digest.

It is also possible that when you are eating salads or raw vegetables, you are simply eating a larger volume of food. This may increase the gas and osmotic "load," according to the FODMAP diet theory.

It may be that raw vegetables aren't the problem, but rather the vegetables you are choosing. Vegetables like mushrooms, celery, cauliflower, onions, and snow peas are on the high-FODMAP food list and may trigger IBS symptoms.

Figuring Out Which Veggies Irritate Your Bowels

In no way does this mean you shouldn't try to include vegetables in your diet. Everybody is different, and IBS is different in every person. To proponents of raw diets, the benefits of eating raw foods include taking advantage of their full array of available enzymes. A raw diet can also reduce immune system reactivity during digestion, which should be good for IBS relief.

A more logical approach may be for you to become your own scientist by asking a few questions. Do all raw vegetables cause a problem for you? Is it just certain vegetables?

It will take some time to narrow it down, but by experimenting with various vegetables, you should arrive at some answers. By paying attention to how your body reacts with certain vegetables, you can begin to determine what you should avoid. You may find it helpful to use the FODMAPs food list as a starting guide.

If IBS symptoms persist despite efforts to manage your diet, see a gastroenterologist. Your symptoms may be caused by any number of other conditions, such as celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, or inflammatory bowel disease.


If you would like to reap the benefits of raw vegetables but are wary about their effects on your body, consider juicing. Though you'll lose most of the veggies' fiber content, juicing may provide a more comfortable way to access the other nutritional benefits of raw vegetables.

Of course, there is always the option of cooking your veggies. Either of these options will begin to break down the food and make it easier on your digestive system to finish the process.

Raw or not, vegetables are great for your digestive and overall health. Your "good guy" gut bacteria love veggies. Therefore, it is worth trying out a wide variety of vegetables to see which ones your belly can tolerate and which ones make your IBS worse.

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  1. Dugum M, Barco K, Garg S. Managing irritable bowel syndrome: The low-FODMAP diet. Cleve Clin J Med. 2016;83(9):655-62. doi:10.3949/ccjm.83a.14159

  2. Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. IBS Diet: The Foods You Can Eat.