Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet - IBS Diet

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Food NameProteinCarbFatFiber 
Milk, human1740
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole3530
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole, low-sodium3430
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, whole3530
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, 1% fat3510
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat3500
Milk, cow's, fluid, other than whole ("lowfat")3510
Milk, cow's, fluid, 2% fat3520
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 1% fat3510
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 2% fat3520
Milk, cow's, fluid, 1% fat3510
Milk, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat, 0.5% or less butterfat3500
Milk, cow's, fluid, filled with vegetable oil3530

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

information and diet guidelines from the National Institutes of Health

Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications. For some people, however, IBS can be disabling. They may be unable to work, attend social events, or even travel short distances.

As many as 20 percent of the adult population, or one in five Americans, have symptoms of IBS, making it one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. It occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50 percent of people.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Researchers have yet to discover any specific cause for IBS. One theory is that people who suffer from IBS have a colon that is particularly sensitive and reactive to certain foods and stress. The immune system, which fights infection, may also be involved.

  • Normal motility, or movement, may not be present in the colon of a person who has IBS. It can be spasmodic or can even stop working temporarily. Spasms are sudden strong muscle contractions that come and go.
  • The lining of the colon called the epithelium, which is affected by the immune and nervous systems, regulates the flow of fluids in and out of the colon. In IBS, the epithelium appears to work properly. However, when the contents inside the colon move too quickly, the colon loses its ability to absorb fluids. The result is too much fluid in the stool. In other people, the movement inside the colon is too slow, which causes extra fluid to be absorbed. As a result, a person develops constipation.
  • A person’s colon may respond strongly to stimuli such as certain foods or stress that would not bother most people.
  • Recent research has reported that serotonin is linked with normal gastrointestinal (GI) functioning. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical, that delivers messages from one part of the body to another. Ninety-five percent of the serotonin in the body is located in the GI tract, and the other 5 percent is found in the brain. Cells that line the inside of the bowel work as transporters and carry the serotonin out of the GI tract. People with IBS, however, have diminished receptor activity, causing abnormal levels of serotonin to exist in the GI tract. As a result, they experience problems with bowel movement, motility, and sensation—having more sensitive pain receptors in their GI tract.
  • Researchers have reported that IBS may be caused by a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Studies show that people who have had gastroenteritis sometimes develop IBS, otherwise called post–infectious IBS.
  • Researchers have also found very mild celiac disease in some people with symptoms similar to IBS. People with celiac disease cannot digest gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye, and barley. People with celiac disease cannot eat these foods without becoming very sick because their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. A blood test can determine whether celiac disease may be present.

Can changes in diet help Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

For many people, careful eating reduces IBS symptoms. Before changing the diet, keep a journal noting the foods that seem to cause distress. Then discuss these findings with the doctor. A registered dietitian can help a person make changes to the diet. For instance, if dairy products cause symptoms to flare up, try eating less of those foods. A person might be able to tolerate yogurt better than other dairy products because it contains bacteria that supply the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk products. Dairy products are an important source of calcium and other nutrients. If a person needs to avoid dairy products, adequate nutrients should be added in foods or supplements should be taken.

In many cases, dietary fiber may lessen IBS symptoms, particularly constipation. However, it may not help with lowering pain or decreasing diarrhea. Whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of fiber. High–fiber diets keep the colon mildly distended, which may help prevent spasms. Some forms of fiber keep water in the stool, thereby preventing hard stools that are difficult to pass. Doctors usually recommend a diet with enough fiber to produce soft, painless bowel movements. High–fiber diets may cause gas and bloating, although some people report that these symptoms go away within a few weeks. Increasing fiber intake by 2 to 3 grams per day will help reduce the risk of increased gas and bloating.

Drinking six to eight glasses of plain water a day is important, especially if a person has diarrhea. Drinking carbonated beverages, such as sodas, may result in gas and cause discomfort. Chewing gum and eating too quickly can lead to swallowing air, which also leads to gas.

Large meals can cause cramping and diarrhea, so eating smaller meals more often, or eating smaller portions, may help IBS symptoms. Eating meals that are low in fat and high in carbohydrates such as pasta; rice; whole–grain breads and cereals, unless a person has celiac disease; fruits; and vegetables may help.

How to use our food database to select foods for Irritable Bowel Syndrome diet

This food database provides the fat, carbohydrate and protein contents, as well as those of fiber of approximately 7,000 food items. A food's mineral and vitamin contents are displayed in charts to allow easy evaluation of its nutrition. You can use these vitamin and mineral charts to choose the most nutrient-dense foods and avoid foods with empty calories.
In addition, the calorie pie chart shows the contribution of fat, carb and protein to the food's total calorie. If you wish to choose high-fiber foods, you can sort foods by their fiber contents. Click on the Fiber column header to sort and click again to reverse the current sort order.

Usage Note

  • Fiber, fat, carbohydrate and protein values in table are in grams and calculated per 100g of food.
  • Click on column header to sort foods by name or by fiber, fat, carbohydrate or protein content.
  • Pie chart shows relative contributions to total calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat (and alcohol, if exists).
  • The mineral and vitamin charts show the relative contents of minerals and vitamins of each food. The higher the bubble, the higher mineral or vitamin content a food has relative to other foods. The larger the bubble, the greater the mineral or vitamin content relative to the Recommended Daily Allowances.

High-Fiber Grains and Pasta

Grains and pasta rated in fiber content. Fiber is in grams per 100 grams of food.

Fiber in Grains and Pasta Fiber

Corn bran, crude 79.0

Wheat bran, crude 42.8

Rye flour, dark 23.8

Rice bran, crude 21.0

Bulgur, dry 18.3

Barley, hulled 17.3

Barley, pearled, raw 15.6

Oat bran, raw 15.4

Rye 15.1

Triticale flour, whole-grain 14.6

Wheat germ, crude 13.2

Wheat flour, whole-grain, soft wheat 13.1

Wheat, soft white 12.7

Wheat, soft red winter 12.5

Wheat, hard white 12.2

Wheat, hard red winter 12.2

Wheat, hard red spring 12.2

Rye flour, medium 11.8

Pasta, corn, dry 11.0

Spelt, uncooked 10.7

Wheat flour, whole-grain 10.7

Spaghetti, spinach, dry 10.6

Oats 10.6

Buckwheat groats, roasted, dry 10.3

Barley flour or meal 10.1

Buckwheat flour, whole-groat 10.0

Buckwheat 10.0

Kamut, uncooked 9.1

Millet, raw 8.5

Fiber in Grains and Pasta Fiber

Corn flour, whole-grain, blue (harina de maiz morado) 8.4

Macaroni, whole-wheat, dry 8.3

Teff, uncooked 8.0

Rye flour, light 8.0

Corn flour, whole-grain, yellow 7.3

Corn flour, whole-grain, white 7.3

Corn, yellow 7.3

Cornmeal, whole-grain, white 7.3

Cornmeal, whole-grain, yellow 7.3

Cornmeal, self-rising, degermed, enriched, white 7.1

Barley malt flour 7.1

Cornmeal, self-rising, degermed, enriched, yellow 7.1

Quinoa, uncooked 7.0

Noodles, egg, spinach, dry, enriched 6.8

Amaranth, uncooked 6.7

Cornmeal, self-rising, bolted, plain, enriched, yellow 6.7

Cornmeal, self-rising, bolted, plain, enriched, white 6.7

Sorghum flour 6.6

Oat flour, partially debranned 6.5

Corn flour, masa, enriched, yellow 6.4

Corn flour, masa, unenriched, white 6.4

Corn flour, masa, enriched, white 6.4

Cornmeal, self-rising, bolted, with wheat flour added, enriched, yellow 6.3

Sorghum 6.3

Cornmeal, self-rising, bolted, with wheat flour added, enriched, white 6.3

Wild rice, raw 6.2

Couscous, dry 5.0

Pasta, corn, cooked 4.8

Rice flour, brown 4.6

Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked 4.5

Bulgur, cooked 4.5

Fiber in Grains and Pasta Fiber

Macaroni, vegetable, cooked, enriched 4.3

Macaroni, vegetable, dry, enriched 4.3

Noodles, japanese, somen, dry 4.3

Spelt, cooked 3.9

Kamut, cooked 3.9

Semolina, enriched 3.9

Cornmeal, degermed, unenriched, yellow 3.9

Semolina, unenriched 3.9

Cornmeal, degermed, enriched, white 3.9

Cornmeal, degermed, unenriched, white 3.9

Cornmeal, degermed, enriched, yellow 3.9

Noodles, chinese, chow mein 3.9

Barley, pearled, cooked 3.8

Millet flour 3.5

Rice, brown, long-grain, raw 3.5

Arrowroot flour 3.4

Rice, brown, medium-grain, raw 3.4

Noodles, egg, dry, enriched 3.3

Noodles, egg, dry, unenriched 3.3

Macaroni, dry, enriched 3.2

Macaroni, dry, unenriched 3.2

Spaghetti, dry, unenriched 3.2

Spaghetti, dry, enriched 3.2

Teff, cooked 2.8

Macaroni, whole-wheat, cooked 2.8

Rice, white, glutinous, raw 2.8

Quinoa, cooked 2.8

Rice, white, short-grain, raw 2.8

Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, enriched, bleached 2.7

Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, self-rising, enriched 2.7

Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, enriched, unbleached 2.7

Fiber in Grains and Pasta Fiber

Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, enriched, calcium-fortified 2.7

Buckwheat groats, roasted, cooked 2.7

Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, unenriched 2.7

Oat bran, cooked 2.6

Hominy, canned, yellow 2.5

Hominy, canned, white 2.5

Rice, white, with pasta, cooked 2.5

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 10% protein, bleached, enriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 10% protein, bleached, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 10% protein, unbleached, enriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 11.5% protein, bleached, enriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 11.5% protein, bleached, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 13% protein, bleached, enriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 9% protein, bleached, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 13% protein, bleached, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 15% protein, bleached, enriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 15% protein, bleached, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flours, bread, unenriched 2.4

Wheat flour, white (industrial), 11.5% protein, unbleached, enriched 2.4

Spaghetti, protein-fortified, dry, enriched (n x 6.25) 2.4

Wheat flour, white, bread, enriched 2.4

Rice flour, white 2.4

Macaroni, protein-fortified, dry, enriched, (n x 6.25) 2.4

Macaroni, protein-fortified, dry, enriched, (n x 5.70) 2.4

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