Are you one of the millions of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering “Why me?” or wishing there was something you could do about it? Well, all month long we’re focusing on IBS, and today we’re going to take a look at what causes IBS. Now keep in mind that there are many contributing factors when it comes to IBS, but here are some of the most common:

  • Irregularities in intestinal hormones and nerves responsible for bowel motility (muscle contraction)
  • Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection
  • Food sensitivities
  • Inadequate enzyme production
  • Imbalanced gut flora
  • Inadequate diet
  • Stress

And because there are so many contributing factors, treatment for IBS can sometimes be difficult. BUTthe more you know, the better chance you have of finding relief, especially if small changes in your diet or lifestyle could be the answer.

Ruling out an underlying food sensitivity is an important step in dealing with IBS, which is why most experts recommend following a “food elimination diet.” This just means that the most common dietary offenders are eliminated from the diet for a period of time, and then reintroduced one by one to determine if a reaction occurs because of a certain type of food. The following is a list of the top foods shown to cause sensitivity:

  • Dairy products
  • Wheat and gluten
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Citrus
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Keeping a food journal during this process is also extremely important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me, “Wow! I had no idea what I was really eating until I started writing it down!” So grab a pen and start keeping track of what you eat and drink throughout the day—along with any digestive symptoms that might occur after eating. Eventually you’ll begin to notice patterns when you eat certain foods. 

Now I know the food elimination diet can be difficult, but it really is the best way to determine if you have a food sensitivity, which believe me is very common in people with IBS. And remember—if you can get to the bottom of your IBS symptoms, relief will come…so good luck!