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Best Diet for Kids with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Published April 10, 2024

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be challenging for kids, causing discomfort and disruptions in daily life. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to managing IBS through diet, understanding which foods to include and avoid can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being in little ones. Let's explore the recommendations for the best diet for kids with IBS.

Low FODMAP Diet

The  Low FODMAP diet is one of the most well-researched dietary interventions for managing IBS symptoms. FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that can ferment in the gut and exacerbate symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.  Studies have shown that implementing a Low FODMAP diet can significantly reduce IBS symptoms in adults. While limited research focuses specifically on kids, the principles of the Low FODMAP diet can be adapted for pediatric use under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Fiber-Rich Foods

While some kids with IBS may benefit from reducing FODMAP intake, others may find relief from including fiber-rich foods in their diet. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and supports gut health by adding bulk to stools and facilitating their passage through the digestive tract. Encourage kids to consume fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables,, and legumes as part of a balanced diet to support their digestive health.

Begin Health Expert Tip

Studies have found that oligosaccharides, such as those found in Begin Health’s Daily Growing Up Prebiotics can help kids that struggle with constipation from IBS symptoms by increasing fecal weight and water. Kids who consume prebiotic fiber on a daily basis can find improved regularity within  six weeks of use

Probiotic-Rich Foods and Supplements

Probiotics are beneficial, live bacteria that can help restore balance to the gut microbiome and alleviate symptoms of IBS.  Studies show that the Lactobacillus strain of probiotics may be the most effective when it comes to reducing IBS symptoms in adults. While research specific to kids with IBS is limited, incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods into their diet may offer benefits.

Individualized Approach

It's important to recognize that the best diet for kids with IBS may vary depending on individual symptoms and tolerances. Some kids may find relief from certain dietary modifications, while others may not respond as positively. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help parents develop an individualized dietary plan tailored to their child's specific needs and preferences.

Summary

While there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to the best diet for kids with IBS, incorporating low FODMAP foods, fiber-rich foods, probiotic-rich foods or supplements, and prioritizing hydration can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being. Working with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized dietary plan is essential for effectively managing IBS in little ones.

References

  • Halmos, E. P., et al. (2015). Diet Low in FODMAPs Reduces Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome as Well as Traditional Dietary Advice: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Gastroenterology, 149(6), 1399-1407.
  • Eswaran, S., et al. (2016). Dietary fiber and its association with gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Nutrition, 32(6), 663-668.
  • Ford, A. C., et al. (2014). American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(1), 110-119.
  • Ruscitto, A., et al. (2020). Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 52(6), 901-912.
  • Manichanh, C., et al. (2012). Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 36(10), 898-910.