Good Food That Is Not That Good For IBS

How Some Healthy Foods can be Harmful for People with IBS

We all know the popular saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In the case of IBS sufferers apples actually give people those nasty IBS symptoms. While it is important to eat fruit and vegetables as part of a well balanced diet, for people who suffer from IBS certain fruits and vegetables are off limits. It seems counterintuitive that something rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber can actually make people feel worse. How

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

An apple a day…

are some fruits and vegetables better than others in an IBS diet? There are a variety of reasons why certain fruits and vegetables can inflame the intestinal tract for people with IBS.

What is IBS?

IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. Basically, it is a list of frequent abdominal and bowel symptoms that cannot be explained by other diseases or conditions. It is more of a sensitive gut and intolerance to certain foods than a food allergy. IBS symptoms include abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, bowel upset, tiredness, nausea, backache, and lower abdominal pain that is relieved by going to the bathroom. Some people suffer from all or a few of these symptoms.

While there are no known causes of IBS, doctors have determined factors that irritate the intestinal track. For example, stress and inflammation can make the gut more susceptible to symptoms as well as changes in lifestyle or diet. So how do foods recommended by nutritionists and doctors factor into this?

Insoluble Fiber

When first diagnosed with IBS, many doctors recommend slowly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber is especially good for adding bulk to stool and making it easier to pass. However, insoluble fiber has the opposite effect. It actually stimulates the GI tract. Most people’s instinct would be to remove the offensive food from their diet. Unfortunately, removing insoluble fiber from your diet would leave a large amount of nutritional holes in your diet. There are ways that you can eat your bran, whole grains, raw fruits and veggies, nuts, and seeds and not pay for it later.

Doctors recommend removing the skin of certain fruits and vegetables as most of the insoluble fiber is located there. Another way to get your insoluble fiber is to balance out insoluble fiber foods with soluble ones. For instance, make a low-fat soup with diced veggies or pair oatmeal with a blended fresh fruit smoothie. Or eat a small portion of insoluble fiber foods after a meal or dish of soluble fiber foods. As long as you don’t eat insoluble fiber by itself or on an empty stomach, you can still ingest these types of food.

Acidic and Sulfuric Foods

Some of these good for you foods contain sulfur or acid which can be an IBS person’s worst nightmare. Foods high in sulfur produce gas and acidic foods can irritate the upper and lower GI tract making it more susceptible to attacks as well.

These foods should definitely be eaten in moderation (or with soluble fiber depending on the food), but still included in your diet. They may cause trouble but eating them in moderation and in smaller quantities will help you get all the nutrition needed.


Foods such as apples, pears, watermelons, avocado, plums, peaches, asparagus, some type of cabbage, garlic, onions, etc. are high in FODMAPs.

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable, oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and polyols. These carbs are found in every day foods and vary in different amounts and are difficult to digest. Often times the intestinal track is unable to digest or absorb these carbs, leaving them for bacteria to ferment when eaten to excess. This fermentation can lead to symptoms of gas bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. In order to reduce these symptoms, some doctors and/or nutritionists recommend eating a low FODMAP diet.

A low FODMAP diet limits foods that are high in fructose, lactose, fructans, and polyols. Usually, this diet is followed for 6 weeks. At this point, high FODMAP foods are reintroduced one by one to determine which foods can trigger IBS symptoms. Once these foods are discovered, you can limit their intake. The FODMAPs elimination and reintroduction phases in this diet belong to an intensive treatment program and should only be followed with the supervision of a doctor or a dietitian.

If you would like to know what food are low in FODMAPs, in another article of my website you can find the link to the Low FODMAP Diet Shopping List Guide.

Thanks for reading and take good care.

xo Larah



About Larah

I have been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome for many years, but it took a longtime to get a diagnosis, since then I have been following a low FODMAP diet, which has changed my life for the better. This is my story and experience with IBS and the low FODMAP diet.

10 comments on “Good Food That Is Not That Good For IBS

  1. Larah, your article clearly depicts the messages that when not feeling well, we can not go with generalization about foods, i.e. particular food or fruit is good in particular disease. Well, it also asks for more investigation and two people suffering from same disease can not have same diet system for they would also have another different issues.

    I am getting addicted to your articles.

    • Sure James, we cannot always assume that the same food is good for everyone. I have learnt this the hard way. I am now diligently following the guide on the Monash University Low FODMAP Diet app, so that I know what food I can or cannot eat. Thank you for stopping by and nice comment.

  2. Hi, I’ve really been enjoying your website, it is so informative! I have a friend who follows a low FODMAP diet and I am starting to understand much better what it means. It sounds quite specific but obviously eating the right foods make such a huge difference. I’m looking forward to subscribing and seeing the list of foods you can have. This is a great site. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you for the nice comment Happy Mum. I will be posting new low FODMAP recipes in the next few days. Keep an eye on the site when you can.

  3. Cabbage is probably the worst for me. I really like it and I know it is good for me in other ways, but it really affects my IBS to the point of extreme discomfort.

    • Funny enough the Monash University iPhone app gives the Savoy cabbage as the one to avoid(because it contains high oligos, but the common cabbage is actually ok.

  4. a low FODMAP diet seems like it has many constraints from this post. Healthy fruits that usually recoup immunity in the body is taken away which is a huge shame. Before reading this post, I had no idea about Insoluble and Soluble Fiber, but I guess you learn new things everyday. I know however, that acidic foods are one of the worst things an IBS patient can have. As someone without it, I can still feel the gas and sometimes heartburn that comes with eating foods like Chili or drinking carbonated soda. Taking away from this post, another point you see is that some foods inflame the intestinal track. Like an allergen to the lungs or respiratory system. Maybe there’s a cure we haven’t found yet, that could alleviate the symptoms like an anti-histamine of sorts. We’ve seen medicinal advancements through out lives, it’s only a matter of time until IBS may be cured. While we wait, we can follow your guide, thanks for posting this.

    • Thank you for your comment Lionel. I am so happy that by following this diet I was able to manage my IBS symptoms. There are a lot of confusing and controversial opinions on internet, but I mainly follow what the Monash University says and also doctor Sue Shepherd, as they have spent many years researching IBS.

  5. IBS symptoms are usually worsened by three factors: stress, hormones, and food. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) all three of these aspects are closely related to the other. Therefore, improvement in either can have some improvement on remaining two aspects. For example, dietary choices have a direct impact on our moods! Thanks for the advice!

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