An Anti Inflammatory Diet for IBS

An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for IBS

anti-inflammatory diet for IBS

Why use an Anti Inflammatory Diet for IBS?

IBS can be a sign of Inflammation

Can an anti inflammatory diet for IBS reduce symptoms? Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be an indicator of some kind of inflammation in your body. That inflammation may have been caused by leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability), an imbalance in the bacteria and/or yeast in the digestive tract, disordered motility, or a hyper sensitivity to gut stimulation.

One of my favorite things to do is to connect the dots in someone’s health history—I mean really dissect every area in order to get a sense for the contributors of that person’s IBS. Sometimes those contributors are avoidable (e.g. eating old sushi, system imbalances) while other times not (e.g. genetics).

We can almost see the inflammation on a daily basis in the form of your symptoms:

  • Reflux
  • Indigestion
  • Hiatal hernias
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent burping
  • Stomach/intestinal cramping/pain
  • Bloating
  • Frequent loose stools
  • Infrequent hard stools
  • Undigested food in stools
  • Gas/flatulence
  • Hemorrhoids 

IBS symptoms

It would be wrong to stop there. In my experience, there are many more symptoms tied to IBS including:

  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Malaise (feeling lousy)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration/brain fog
  • Low sex drive
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate variability
  • Migraine
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Hyperactive (nervous energy)
  • Acne
  • Rashes or hives
  • Eczema or psoriasis
  • “Rosy” cheeks or flushing
  • Itchy skin
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Dark circles or “bags” under the eyes
  • Itchy ears
  • Joint pains
  • Stiff joints
  • Muscle aches
  • Stiff muscles
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Food cravings
  • Water retention* ( I see this almost every time)

Because IBS is tied to inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet for IBS can work wonders on your symptoms. Great, right?! Although there are a few caveats… (you saw this coming!)

Question: “Will low FODMAP anti inflammatory recipes help IBS symptoms?”

  • Answer: A generalized low FODMAP, anti inflammatory diet is very restrictive. The low FODMAP diet itself is very restrictive, and taking out more foods on top of that just out of suspicion will likely cause frustration and burnout, not to mention nutrient deficiencies. Worst of all, any symptom relief from a low FODMAP diet is only temporary. 

  • A Low FODMAP diet: This is only useful if certain carbohydrates are the problem, and most often times symptoms return upon the reintroduction phase. 

  • Is Low FODMAP anti inflammatory? Not exactly. It has you avoid certain sugars that can contribute to bloating and unpleasant bowel movements.

  • Ex: If someone is lactose intolerant, avoiding lactose is the typical “treatment”. It's similar with the Low FODMAP diet…avoiding FODMAPs will likely reduce your symptoms (but sheesh! You'd also be avoiding a lot of healthy foods).

  • Low FODMAP vs. anti inflammatory diet…If there was a fire, a Low FODMAP diet is like not adding lighter fluid to that fire. A true anti inflammatory diet is like putting out the fire altogether.


Standard IBS Diets: The SLOWEST way to alleviate your IBS symptoms

Standard IBS diets (like the ones that pop up in your online search) are anything but unique. They pinpoint foods which have a commonality and ask you to stop eating them for a few weeks, months, or indefinitely.

  • A general anti-inflammatory diet: Without naming names…there are a few highly restrictive anti-inflammatory diets out there. But guess what? Some of their “safe” foods can cause inflammation in different people (see below).

anti-inflammatory diet



Other Ways To Help IBS Symptoms

Maybe you've “tried everything” and you'll take any improvement at this point. After all, if your work and social life are crappy, changes need to be made!

You might look to journal everything you eat, and be your own detective. It’s always a good idea to look closely at what you’re eating and try to compare it to the way you feel, but it’s not always easy. If you’re always feeling so lousy, it can be difficult to pinpoint your symptoms. If this is the case, I just might have the perfect tools for you!

Let's compare your inflammatory foods to mosquito bites…if you get one bite, you can point to exactly where it is. It is itchy, and you are clearly bothered by that one area. But what happens if you have 20 mosquito bites on one leg? Chances are, that entire leg is crazy itchy, red, and swollen. You would probably be scratching it everywhere, and you might not even notice if you get one more bite on that leg.

You see, if we can cut out a bunch of your symptoms, it will be that much easier to listen to your body and see which foods are causing your symptoms and inflammation. We have the tools to cut out the foods that specifically trigger your IBS attacks.

Probiotics for IBS

There's no doubt the microbiome (all those tiny organisms in your large intestines) plays a role in IBS. However, some strains of bacteria can actually make IBS symptoms worse (and I'm not talking about “symptoms getting worse before they can get better” type of worse).This can be the case if you take the wrong kind of probiotic, or if you have too much bacteria in your small intestine.

When it comes to probiotics, there are hundreds of types of different bacteria your body may want, so it really can be a challenge to know the right strains to take. Once you do  know the right strains, there is still much more work to be done in other areas…for example, why was your system out of balance to begin with?

In my experience, some people start their own choice of probiotics or one suggested by a healthcare provider, then a portion of those people feel slight relief while others do not. For some supplements, it might be better to keep taking them only if you notice improvement (or if your dietitian has a plan!)

Digestive Enzymes for IBS

Another search engine result for IBS relief might be digestive enzymes. Your body makes different enzymes to help break down different parts of food. With low amounts of those enzymes, the food can travel undigested, through your body which can be a food source for certain bacteria. This process can lead to feelings of indigestion, bloating, gas, constipation, or more likely, diarrhea.

For some, taking enzymes may provide mild relief, but there will likely still be much more room for improvement. Just like the probiotic situation, we would want to learn why your enzymes were low, if indeed they were. 

  • Eat the same foods everyday: In hopes of not upsetting your system, you might eat the same 5 foods every day. If that's true, you probably still have symptoms with the “safe” foods, but you at least your symptoms are sort of bearable. The down side? You're at a high risk for nutrient deficiencies which come with their own set of problems.

  • Here are some gut-friendly recipes for meals for IBS. 



Tailored IBS Diet: The Fastest Way to Alleviate your IBS Symptoms

Anti-Inflammatory Foods for your IBS

A thorough search for the “best” vs “worst” foods for IBS is likely to leave you feeling hopeless. Some of the foods on the “worst” list are fine for some IBS sufferers (IBSers) and some on the “best” list are the worst for other IBSers. It can be infuriating! The cold truth is, there is no one diet to decrease inflammation for your IBS. 

Best Assumed Foods for IBS

— insert bland, lean foods here

  • Eggs (or egg whites)
  • Lean chicken
  • Well-cooked vegetables: zucchini, carrots, spinach, string beans
  • Peeled fruit without seeds: bananas, cantaloupe, peaches
  • Cooked grains: rolled oats, rice
  • Potatoes
  • Low fat yogurt

Assumed Inflammatory Foods To Avoid With IBS

“Worst” foods for IBS—insert fatty, high fiber/tough foods here …but these might not cause you problems

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Ice cream
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel's sprouts, cabbage
  • Onion, garlic
  • Fried foods
  • Soda
  • Salad
  • Other IBS foods to avoid

Assumed anti-inflammatory diet foods

…but these might actually cause you problems

  • Turmeric
  • Olive oil
  • Wild salmon
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Quinoa
  • Almonds
  • Blueberries
  • Sweet potatoes


The Best Foods For IBS Symptoms

Now let me show you something…

Below are two lists. Lists of the best vs the worst foods for one particular client of mine. Can you guess which list is the “best” list and which is the “worst” list? Why?

Sample food list: Worst vs Best foods for IBS symptoms

A.) Sunflower seeds/oil, lettuce, mushroom, zucchini, blueberry, grape, mango, honeydew, egg whites, shrimp, maple syrup, basil

B.) Cashew, almond, apple, avocado, pineapple, potato, pumpkin, carrot, tomato, beef, tuna, cinnamon, honey, quinoa, spelt, cantaloupe

Tricky, right? Is the suspense killing you? Okay, I’ll tell you. List A is the worst foods and list B are the best foods for this one particular person. Surprised?

Trust me, if there were commonalities amongst the anti inflammatory plans I create for people with IBS, I would absolutely share them. The truth is, the worst vs best foods for IBS are incredibly unpredictable.

Question: “Is yogurt good for IBS?”

Answer: You mean, for YOUR IBS? It could be…One main reason people will think yogurt is helpful is the potential for probiotics in them. However, there are other components of that yogurt which could also be causing your symptoms!


Question: “Is oatmeal good for IBS?”

Answer: You mean, for YOUR IBS? It could be…Oatmeal is a bland food and many people seem to prefer it when they have an IBS attack. However, oatmeal can also be one of the foods that is triggers an IBS attack for you. Confusing much? Until we use the right tools, we just won't know for sure. 

Question: “Are bananas good for IBS?”

Answer: You mean, for YOUR IBS? That depends…bananas have the ability to bind up stool which can be useful if you have loose bowel movements, but bad if you have constipation. However, there are other properties in the banana which can cause an inflammatory response. Again, until we use the right tools, we just won't know for sure.


Let’s find out some more…


How do certain foods cause inflammation?

So far, we know that many things can cause IBS, but if we take an even deeper look, we will find that many IBS symptoms are caused by immune cells such as mast cells, eosinophils, or substances released by those cells such as cytokines and interleukins in response to eating certain foods. Basically, we can eat foods which trigger our bodies to send out stress signals to various cells across our body. What does that look like? Inflammation!

Let's use the lists above to understand a bit more what this would look like.

Take the example client above, let's call her Michelle. If Michelle removed eggs (egg whites were on her personalized “bad” list) from her diet for 1 month, it's doubtful she would see any major improvements in her symptoms. Partially due to the fact she has so many annoying symptoms (like a lot of mosquito bites), but also because she still has a lot of other foods on her personalized “bad” list that she is still probably eating.

If Michelle took these two lists and made her own diet, it would probably avoid her bad foods and use a lot of the good foods along with the other foods in her diet already. She would start to notice some improvements, but would likely hit a plateau, preventing her from getting the results she had dreamed of. That's because there are thousands of foods in our diet already, and taking out 12 of those foods sometimes is just not enough. This is where my work enters…

As a holistic IBS dietitian, I help people identify…

What foods trigger IBS attacks specifically for you

  • That's right, with a little bit (ok, a lot) of experience and with the right tools, we are actually able to identify what foods trigger IBS attacks for you. 

YOUR Best Meals for IBS

  • A highly-personalized approach must be used in order to get this right.
  • As your dietitian, I will create a list of your best meals for IBS so that your body can start to heal naturally, using food.
  • As your body heals, the list of your best meals for IBS will grow so that you won't feel restricted.

Receive a printable food list for

your Anti Inflammatory Diet for IBS


Take the next step in your journey to alleviate your IBS symptoms.

Schedule a free 1 on 1 call with Marina to:

  • Review your health history
  • Examine things you have tried (or not tried) in the past
  • Lay out the best course of action, uniquely tailored to you


IBS Dietitian

Author: Marina Bedrossian, RDN, CDN, CLT, FMNS, CECP, CBCP

Marina is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a strong background in holistic care. She believes in encouraging the body to heal naturally, using hyper-personalized nutrition and emotional release.

Marina helps IBSers feel significantly better in just 7-10 days. Visit to start pooping normally again.

Best IBS dietitian, Long Island