IBS Triggers

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Sat, 09/19/2015
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Triggers

Spicy and fatty foods irritate gastrointestinal tract. Coffee, alcohol, and food additives (such as aspartame & MSG) do damage or trigger IBS.

What are IBS triggers?

Certain food and habits increase the chances of IBS episodes; they are Alcohol, Acidic beverages, Night awakening, Suppression of the urges, Improper posture, Fasting for longer period, sodas, junk foods, and regular hotel foods. Foods that trigger excess gas production and bloating are potato, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

A trigger is something that worsen symptoms after you already have had IBS.

  • Stress is a major trigger for IBS; holding tension in the guts causes muscle cramping and escalate IBS attacks. Experts do not like to say IBS caused by stress. However, stress can cause increased IBS symptoms in someone with IBS and even worsen other conditions you have.
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a food additive linked to digestive upsets. MSG is an excitotoxin, a class of flavor enhancer acts on the brain to make you think-tastes better. It can overstimulate the brain, causing neurons to die from exhaustion. MSG reactions are consider as Chinese restaurant syndrome that include migraines, headaches, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, asthma, panic attacks, allergic reactions, and runny nose. 
  • Processed foods is the term applicable to any food that altered from its natural state in some way. Anything processed may contain added salt, sugar, fat, and other food additives (such as artificial color, flavor, preservatives, etc.). Wholesome foods is the term applicable to any food that are in its natural healthy state. Always prefer wholesome to processed foods.
  • Artificial-sweeteners specifically sorbitol can trigger pain, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol; the body absorb it partially. The unabsorbed part absorbs water in the large intestine, causing distention, and stimulates urge to have a bowel movement. Other artificial sweeteners are Saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda), sorbitol and other sugar alcohols (xylitol, maltitol, erythritol). All can cause GI side effects ranging from gas and bloating to severe cramps and diarrhea.
  • Fructose containing foods can trigger symptoms of belching, bloating, pain, etc. In a study published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology, of 183 patients with IBS symptoms, 101 experienced symptoms of belching, passing gas, bloating, pain, and change in their bowel movements when fed a fructose meal. Fructose containing foods are watermelon, apples, cherries, mango, pears, honey, maple syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Sorbitol, and Inulin.
  • Hot and spicy foods are IBS triggers even without chili peppers. It is not just because of the chili; generally spicy food has rich in fat, fat is a GI stimulant and can cause cramps, diarrhea, rebound constipation, and more.
  • Caffeine is stimulant and irritant of GI tract. Foods containing caffeine are coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda. It is advisable to drink herbal or green teas instead of caffeinated drinks.
  • Beans are high in fiber and difficult to digest carbs, which left undigested. This undigested carbs will consume by intestinal bacteria producing gas and trigger IBS symptoms. People with IBS experience worst attack by any amount of intestinal gas. All beans contain raffinose, a complex sugar. People lack of digestive enzymes in GI tract to breakdown this complex sugar and thus left undigested. This undigested complex sugar is a food for bacteria causing excess intestinal gas such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane results in bloating, pain, spasm, and colic. Soaking beans overnight and discording the socked water before cooking them can help ease digestion of this complex sugar. Beans are very healthy foods; eat them before 4 p.m. and chew them well can support proper digestion.
  • Cautious about soy: Soymilk is a substitute for dairy products. Some with IBS, experience problems with soy. You need to give time to train your raffinose digestive enzymes to do a better job. You should start with small amounts of soy and give time for the enzymes to develop. Soy can block thyroid hormone production causing hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) or thyroiditis (thyroid autoimmune disease). Soy contains phytate, which blocks mineral absorption.
  • Alcohol irritate GI and trigger IBS attacks often consumed on an empty stomach. Drinking alcohol has been proving to have significant impact on the digestive system, specifically liver is straining a lot. 
  • Cigarettes contain tobacco, which is a poison that irritate and stimulate the intestinal tract causing various health disturbances including IBS. Try quit smoking provide numerous health benefits. One of the common undesirable outcomes of quit smoking is constipation, still you need to quit smoking.
  • Carbonated drinks such as soda, cola, and mineral water can cause intestinal gas that worsen IBS symptom of bloating, pain, spasm, and cramps.
  • Refined sugar feeds yeast in the intestines and can cause and/or trigger symptoms of IBS. Candida albicans can grow uncontrollably, if you eat too much of refined sugar or products it contains. Stevia is a natural sweetener, it does not cause problems caused by sugar or artificial sweeteners. Stevia is available in powder or liquid forms. Stevia is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Additionally, it will not feed yeast in your intestine.
  • Dairy is hard to digest for a good segment of the population. People with lactose intolerance can experience worsening of IBS symptoms after consumption of dairy products. May be the exception is fermented milk products such as buttermilk. 
  • Wheat is an irritant in some IBS individuals. We need to expand our horizons beyond wheat and add more grains.
  • Fats stimulate the secretion from the liver, thus can trigger IBS. Fatty foods are cheese, chicken & turkey skin, chocolate, egg yolk, fried foods, full fat dairy, meat, oils, and shortening. When you want something sweet and fatty then find healthy alternatives.
  • Artificial fat Olestra (brand name Olean) cause abdominal cramp and diarrhea even to people who does not have IBS. It is a fat substitute with no fat, calories, or cholesterol to products. It has been in use in the preparation of foods like potato crisps, thereby lowering or eliminating their fat content.
  • Chewing gum will cause make way to swallow excess air that trigger IBS symptoms. Additionally, many chewing gums may have artificial sweetener often causes abdominal symptoms.
  • Citrus fruits can also trigger IBS symptoms. Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, in addition to tangerines and pomelos.
  • Medications such as antihistamines, antibiotics, magnesium antacids, laxatives, diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants, and mineral supplements contain magnesium can trigger IBS symptoms. Magnesium is an important mineral for preventing heart diseases, muscle spasms, relax muscles & blood vessels, and relaxing effect on bowel. However, magnesium irritates gut and laxative effect. Most people with IBS accepts magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate. Antidepressants Prozac and other serotonin reactive uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can cause nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, and diarrhea.

If you feel any of these foods causes pain in the colon, then the simplest solutions is simply stop eating them immediately and see improvements in the symptoms. Eliminate these foods for a minimum of two weeks, so that they totally removed from the system. During this time, your immune system that attack these foods will learn to settle down, and all the inflammation & irritation caused by them may heal.

What is the way to avoid all these nasty IBS symptoms? 

Avoid unnecessary antibiotics use and reduce sugar, wheat, and dairy in your regular consumption. Add up probiotics supplement or organic buttermilk/yogurt in your everyday diet.