Top Books for IBS

Many people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) will be interested in reading books that offer advice and help in dealing with the condition. It's hard to know which books are going to be truly helpful, and which are just going to sit on the shelf, unused. One of the main things to look for in an IBS book is sensible advice that can be followed while living a life that includes healthy activities as well as celebrations and nights out. Diets that are too restrictive, or don't allow for an individual lifestyle (who has all day to spend in the kitchen cooking?) aren't going to be the best choices for many people. After reading and reviewing many books on IBS over the years, here's a list of the best.


The Everything Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet

The Everything Guide To The Low-FODMAP Diet

The Everything Guide To The Low-FODMAP Diet

The latest in IBS self-care has to do with this acronym of almost unpronounceable words: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, or, FODMAPs. FODMAPs are foods that contain a type of sugar that may affect the digestive system of people with IBS more than other people. This book not only takes you through the task of lowering the amount of FODMAPs in the food you eat, but it also provides a host of recipes to help you. The book is plainly written so that anyone can understand how to follow the diet, the recipes are simple and easy-to-make, and the photography is gorgeous.


Eating for IBS

Eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous

Heather Van Vorous

Eating for IBS is a comprehensive guide to help people with IBS change the way they think about the food they eat. This book will be a welcome addition to the library of many people with IBS who are committed to eliminating their symptoms from trigger foods. With the tools people with IBS find here, they can identify trigger foods and help phase them out and instead put a more IBS-friendly diet plan in place.


Freedom From Digestive Distress

Freedom From Digestive Distress by Gary Gitnick, MD

Freedom From Digestive Distress by Gary Gitnick, MD

In this book, author Gary Gitnick, MD advocates using lifestyle changes to combat digestive disorders such as heartburn, gas, bloating, and IBS. By taking the reader through several case studies, Dr. Gitnick illustrates important lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms. The examples from patient stories can help in understanding how lifestyle changes can lead to fewer GI symptoms.


The First Year: IBS

The First Year: IBS by Heather Van Vorous

Heather Van Vorous

The strategy of "The First Year: IBS" is true to its title—to guide the newly diagnosed patient through the first year after a diagnosis of IBS. This is no small task as there is a significant amount to learn about IBS and each person responds to treatments and lifestyle changes differently. To break this down and help facilitate learning in more bite-sized chunks, this book focuses on only one topic each day, week, or month. This gives the reader a chance to understand and implement the new information before moving on to the next idea. For people who like to have a plan, this book can help in getting more organized about managing IBS.


Breaking the Bonds of IBS

In her book, Dr. Barbara Bradley Bolen presents several tools that people with IBS can use to gain control over their symptoms. She touches on often-overlooked topics in IBS such as incontinence, emotional illness, and how to develop a working relationship with physicians. Using examples from her practice, she explains how to use positive thinking and self-talk to gain control over IBS flare-ups.


Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health

This book from a respected name in digestive health, The Mayo Clinic, touches on concepts not normally covered in IBS treatment, such as meal portions, body mass index (BMI), and how much fiber to eat. A section on common diagnostic tests includes many done before diagnosing IBS, even those less well-known, such as transit studies. This book is a good choice as a general 'how to' manual and troubleshooting guide for the digestive tract.

Finding Good Books On IBS

There's no shortage of advice for dealing with the symptoms of IBS, but there is a certainly a lack of reputable sources that can be trusted. Finding a good book on IBS can be difficult, but these choices stand out from the crowd. Books that have actionable advice that seems reasonable and helpful, and don't require buying a lot of supplements or other materials are good choices. Not every person with IBS will respond to a treatment the same way, which is why some trial and error is involved and why there's so much varied advice. Finding the right treatments might take time, but sticking with a program and seeing it through is the best way to achieve results.

6 Sources
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  1. Bolen BB, Bradley K. The Everything Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet: a Healthy Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders. Avon, MA: Adams Media; 2014.

  2. Vorous HV. Eating for IBS: 175 Delicious, Nutritious, Low-Fat, Low-Residue Recipes to Stabilize the Touchiest Tummy. New York: Marlow & Co.; 2000.

  3. Gitnick GL, Cooksey K. Freedom from Digestive Distress: Medicine-Free Relief from Heartburn, Gas, Bloating, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. New York: Three Rivers Press; 2000.

  4. Van Vorous H. The First Year: IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome)—An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Da Capo Lifelong Books; 2005. 

  5. Bolen BB. Breaking the Bonds of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a Psychological Approach to Regaining Control of Your Life. North Charleston: Createspace; 2010.

  6. Hauser SC. Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic; 2011.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.