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Foods and Drinks Which Can Worsen Irritable Bowel Syndrome

By Elizabeth Harfleet, Nutritional Therapist


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.  They can range from slight discomfort to being completely debilitated and housebound.  Although there is no IBS cure as such, many sufferers have noticed that certain foods seem to trigger symptoms.  By avoiding problem foods, it is possible to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


A food intolerance test or elimination diet can help to identify any foods which may be causing you problems. We provide York Test food intolerance tests which you can use yourself in the comfort of your own home.  However certain foods are well known for their irritating effect on the digestive tract and are therefore best avoided.


Coffee, even the decaffeinated version, contains enzymes which are irritating to the whole of the digestive tract. Caffeine in general should therefore be avoided.


The effects of alcohol are well known!  Whilst a little red wine may be good for the cardiovascular system, most people go well beyond this. Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers would be best to avoid alcohol if possible and should definitely avoid drinking it on an empty stomach.


Fibre is reputed to be good for IBS and digestive health in general. However, some grains and gluten, (the sticky protein found in many grains), can be irritating and difficult to digest. Foods such as brown rice and vegetables are preferable sources of fibre.


Fruit is very much a personal choice.  Fruits which are ‘sharp’ such as berries and citrus fruits can feel quite acidic when digested.  Foods such as bananas, pears and red apples may be a better choice.


Other foods which can play a part in worsening Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms include dairy products and yeast.


Diet can play an important role in alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.  Food intolerance tests help to identify any problem foods specific to you, whilst avoiding well-known problem foods like coffee, acidic fruits, dairy products and yeast can also help.



Elizabeth Harfleet is a Manchester-based Nutritional Therapist specialising in the treatment of IBS.  For more information or to order a food intolerance kit, please visit








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