Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects 10% of the people in the United States each year. From abdominal pain to bloating, diarrhea and constipation, IBS can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Statistics from the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, IBS is more common in women and people under 50 years old. People suffering with IBS can use nutrition and lifestyle strategies to help control and manage their gut symptoms, improve quality of life, and optimize digestive health. 

In this article we are focusing on foods that can help you deal with your IBS. Food is a powerful tool to have in your toolbox, and a registered dietitian can help guide and support you in creating a long-term strategy and plan that works for you and your lifestyle. A low-FODMAP diet, commonly recommended as the IBS diet, is usually a go to for people diagnosed with IBS [1,2]. FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols and you can learn a little more about it here. Let’s get to some of the foods that are good for IBS.

  1. Lean Meats: You can choose lean cuts of meat and limit processed meats like sausage and bacon, which can aggravate the gut and cause inflammation. Lean cuts of beef (sirloin, filet, and any of the round cuts), pork (tenderloin or loin cuts), and poultry (white meat chicken and turkey) are good choices. Lean protein digests easily, and the gut bacteria that help break down food will not ferment it [3].
  2. Fatty Fish: Salmon and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA have robust anti-inflammatory effects. Consuming oily fish can help alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms common in IBS sufferers [4]. Examples of beneficial fatty fish include:
  • Anchovies
  • Black cod
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Whitefish
  1. Eggs: Eggs can be enjoyed hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, or poached. However, some people with IBS can be sensitive to the proteins in egg whites or react to the higher fat content of egg yolks.
  2. Avocado: Avocados are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and vitamins, while also being low in FODMAPs.
  3. Vegetables: Many vegetables are very good for your gut flora (the bacteria and yeast that aid with digestion) and your overall gut health. Avoid the sulfur-containing cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and brussels sprouts as these may cause excess gas and bloating. In general, cooked vegetables are easier to digest than raw ones. Some great commonly available examples to include in your diet are:
  • Bell peppers of all colors
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Potato
  • Scallions
  • Squash (all types)
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini
  1. Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are high in fiber and low in FODMAPs, making them a fantastic addition to meals to help reduce inflammation and promote gut health. They are packed with nutrients and are unlikely to cause gut fermentation [1]. Here are some great commonly found examples for you to include in your diet:
  • Arugula
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Radicchio 
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  1. Fruits: Fruits have a number of nutrients that are good for your gut microbes, but many fruits are high in sugars that promote fermentation and can make IBS symptoms worse [1]. Because of this it is best to stick to no more than one fruit portion per meal or snack, even with the lower sugar fruits. Below is a list of commonly available, lower sugar, higher fiber fruits that would make great additions to your diet:
  • Banana
  • Blueberry
  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberry
  1. Nuts: Nuts can be a good source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It is advisable to not overconsume nuts because they have a lot of insoluble fiber that can make diarrhea worse if you have diarrhea-predominant IBS [2]. Below is a list of some of the good nuts to include in your diet:
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  1. Seeds: In general, seeds are nutritionally rich and packed with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals. Examples of ways to use them are sprinkled on salads or oatmeal, added to smoothies, or used to flavor your favorite cooked foods. Some types of seeds that are good for IBS sufferers include:
  • Chia seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Final Thoughts

Dealing with IBS is a burden for all of those that suffer with it and trying to find remedies to reduce symptoms or prevent symptoms from developing is a challenge. You can ease your IBS symptoms by eating a balanced diet that is low in FODMAPs and saturated fat. Adding a variety of the foods mentioned in this article to your diet can help you manage and prevent symptoms of IBS. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that help reduce inflammation and promote healthy digestion for optimal gut health. Each person is different and even some of these foods may trigger symptoms for some. It’s important to listen to and work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to develop an individualized diet plan that suits your specific needs and triggers.



[1] Haimos EP, Power VA, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology. 2014 Jan;146(1):67-75.e5.

[2] Cozma-Petrut A, Loghin F, Miere D, Dumitrascu DL. Diet in irritable bowel syndrome: what to recommend, not what to forbid to patients! World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Jun 7;23(21):3771–83.

[3] Chen B, Li D, Leng D, Kui H, Bai X, Wang T. Gut microbiota and meat quality. Front Microbiol. 2022;13:951726.

[4] Marton, L. T., Goulart, R. A., Carvalho, A. C. A., & Barbalho, S. M. (2019). Omega Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: An Overview. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(19), 4851.