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Top Foods to Avoid for Kids with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can cause discomfort and distress in kids, impacting their daily lives and well-being. While dietary triggers can vary among individuals with IBS, certain foods are commonly associated with exacerbating symptoms. Understanding which foods to avoid can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life for little ones with IBS. Let’s review the top foods to avoid for kids with irritable bowel syndrome. 

High-FODMAP Foods

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that can ferment in the gut, leading to gas, bloating, and abdominal pain in individuals with IBS.  Research from studies have shown that reducing intake of high-FODMAP foods can significantly alleviate IBS symptoms in both adults and kids. Foods high in FODMAPs include:

  • Specific fruits (e.g., apples, pears, watermelon)

  • Vegetables (e.g., onions, garlic, cauliflower)

  • Dairy products (e.g., milk, soft cheese

  • Legumes (e.g., beans, lentils).

High-Fat Foods

High-fat foods can delay stomach emptying and contribute to symptoms such as bloating and discomfort in kids with IBS. High-fat meals can exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms and decrease gut motility in individuals with IBS. Encourage kids to limit their intake of high-fat foods such as fried foods, fatty meats, creamy sauces, and full-fat dairy products to help manage IBS symptoms effectively.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and trigger symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea in kids with IBS. Avoiding spicy foods may help reduce symptom severity and improve overall well-being in kids with IBS. While tolerance to spicy foods varies among individuals, it's advisable for kids with IBS to limit their consumption of spicy dishes, sauces, and seasonings to minimize discomfort.

Caffeine and Carbonated Beverages

Caffeine and carbonated beverages can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and worsen symptoms like abdominal cramping and diarrhea in kids with IBS. A  study found that reducing caffeine intake can lead to symptom improvement in individuals with IBS. Encourage kids to limit their consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda, as well as carbonated drinks, to help manage IBS-related symptoms effectively.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, commonly found in sugar-free gum, candies, and diet beverages, can have laxative effects and exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms in kids with IBS. Current  research published suggests that avoiding artificial sweeteners may help reduce symptoms of bloating and diarrhea in individuals with IBS. Teaching our kids how to effectively read food labels carefully can help them choose products that are free from artificial sweeteners to minimize symptom triggers.

Summary

Avoiding high-FODMAP foods, high-fat foods, spicy foods, caffeine, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life for kids with IBS. 

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.
  • Mansueto, P., et al. (2015). Food intolerance in patients with adverse reactions to food. Digestive Diseases, 33(3), 319-324.
  • Aziz, I., et al. (2014). Systematic review with meta-analysis: the prevalence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 38(7), 674-682.
  • Eswaran, S., et al. (2016). Dietary fiber and its association with gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Nutrition, 32(6), 663-668.
Monash University. (2022). Low FODMAP Diet. Retrieved from https://www.monashfodmap.com/


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