Fibre causing my IBS

Has anyone else found that foods high in fibre are a major cause of their IBS? If I eat any grain (apart from rice), bananas, wholewheat bread, in fact anything wholewheat, within a few minutes I get a major headache and shortly after major bloating and pain in my stomach. It sometimes feels like I have swallowed a handful of needles. My bowels get clogged up and although I feel like I need to go to the loo, I can't. Dairy is also a major problem, I can consume small amounts of semi skimmed milk, but anything more and I feel awful. I seem to react in different degrees to a lot of foods. What concerns me is that I migrate towards a really unhealthy diet full of white carbs and sugar. If I eat unhealthily I get no IBS symptoms at all. I worry for my long term health eating this way, but the discomfort of adding in healthy foods really puts me off eating them.

4 Replies

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  • For years my doc has had me on a whole wheat diet because I have metabolic syndrome and am a candidate for diabetes. Since my last attack of IBS this summer, I am not able to digest whole wheat stuff so now I eat breads with less wheat like cracked wheat or split top wheat bread. It might be better to do away with the whole wheat and try something lighter. Hope this helps.

  • I think I have IBS symtoms that are made worse when I eat a more wholemeal diet. Wholemeal bread, a day of pasta and rice will certainly upset my bowel.

    In moderation they seem OK....but without days of less fibre, certainly I feel bloated and begin to get symtoms of IBS...that is bloating, pains, cramps and altered bowel habit.

    If I go on a lower fibre diet I feel my bowels eventually become constipated.It feels like a balancing act which is never sustainable.

  • It depends on the type of fibre and the type of IBS you suffer with; there's insoluble and soluble and from what my gastroenterologist said, soluble fibre is better for IBS-D as it slows down the GI tract and insoluble fibre is better for IBS-C as it speeds up the GI tract. The most problematic is IBS-A (alternate) where they suffer with both constipation and diarrhoea as sufferers have to find a healthy balance between the two!

    I have IBS-D and as such, wholegrain (which is mainly insoluble) is my enemy! My gastroenterologist advised me on foods so I live on things with less insoluble and more soluble fibre like refined white products; white bread; rice; ripe bananas, and I try to keep it low fat as fats can exacerbate symptoms so I drink 1% or skimmed milk. I know it's not the healthiest of diets especially as I have another health condition that affects my weight but it's one way to manage my symptoms and hey, at least it's low fat! There is a plethora of info on the net on the types and amounts of fibre in different foods and at the end of the day it's down to trial and error, figuring out what foods your body can tolerate. I hope this is somewhat helpful!

  • kiwimiwi, I think your gastroenterologist might be working with information that's out of date. I'm pretty sure that insoluble fiber - anything wholewheat - often makes constipation worse. Wheat bran is basically indigestible, and because it is very coarse, it can be irritating and even damaging to the GI tract when it gets stuck in there! Soluble fiber, on the other hand, makes stools bulkier and softer, which makes them easier to pass.

    Patients with IBD-C are now advised to increase soluble fiber, while patients with IBS-D are advised to cut back on overall quantities of fiber but especially insoluble fiber.

    nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable...

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