The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be greatly affected by dietary interventions and combined with other lifestyle changes, these can be sufficient for mild cases, according to Mayo Clinic. Dietary changes that often help IBS include eliminating foods that encourage gas in the intestines, eliminating gluten and selectively eliminating FODMAP carbohydrates.
Foods that encourage gas in the intestines include carbonated beverages, raw fruits and some vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Gluten is found in grains such as rye, wheat and barley. The FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols) carbohydrates include fructose, fructans and lactose. They are found in milk, fruit and some vegetables. People with sensitivity to FODMAP carbohydrates are often only sensitive to some of them, and these carbohydrates can be added back into the diet one at a time to check for specific reactions.
Dietary interventions are helpful, but not sufficient, for most moderate to severe cases of IBS, according to Mayo Clinic. In these cases, medications must often be used to reduce symptoms further. Fiber supplements often aid with constipation. Antidiarrheal medications are used for diarrhea, sometimes in conjunction with antispasmodic medications. Antispasmodic medications and anticholinergic medications also help control painful bowel spasms, although they sometimes cause constipation.