"Since I have suffered for thirty eight of IBS I wonder what role foods play in IBS. So I asked Dr Douglas Drossman at the UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility disorders and here was his response. This is not a substitute for seeking medical advise from your doctor on any specific conditions you may have, but for educational purposes only.
Dr. Drossman is a Co-director of the Center and Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at UNC-CH. He established a program of research in functional gastrointestinal disorders at UNC more than 15 years ago and has published more than 250 books, articles, and abstracts relating to epidemiology, psychosocial and quality of life assessment, design of treatment trials, and outcomes research in gastrointestinal disorders.
Dr Drossman's comments on foods for IBS Health.
To say that people with IBS may get symptoms from food intolerances is an acceptable possibility, since the gut will over react to stressors of all types including food (high fat or large volumes of food in particular). Furthermore, there can be specific intolerances. So if you have a lactose intolerance for example, it can exacerbate, or even mimic IBS. Other examples of food substances causing diarrhea would be high consumers of caffeine or alcohol which can stimulate intestinal secretion or with the latter, pull water into the bowel (osmotic diarrhea). The same would be true for overdoing certain poorly absorbed sugars that can cause an osmotic type of diarrhea Sorbitol, found in sugarless gum and sugar substituted foods can also produce such an osmotic diarrhea. Even more naturally, people who consume a large amount of fruits, juices or other processed foods enriched with fructose, can get diarrhea because it is not as easily absorbed by the bowel and goes to the colon where it pulls in water. So if you have IBS, all of these food items would make it worse.
However, it is important to separate factors that worsen IBS (e.g., foods as above, stress, hormonal changes, etc.) from the cause or pathophysiology of IBS. Just like stress doesn't cause IBS, (though it can make it worse), foods must be understood as aggravating rather than etiological in nature.
The cause of IBS is yet to be determined. However, modern research understands IBS as a disorder of increased reactivity of the bowel, visceral hypersensitivity and dysfunction of the brain-gut axis. There are subgroups being defined as well, including post-infectious IBS which can lead to IBS symptoms. Other work using brain imaging shows that the pain regulation center of the brain (cingulate cortex) can be impaired, as well as good evidence for there being abnormalities in motility which can at least in part explain the diarrhea and constipation. So finding a specific "cause" of IBS has grown out of general interest in place of understanding physiological subgroups that may become amenable to more specific treatments. Hope that helps.
IBS Forum Moderator
I am not a doctor. All information I present is for educational purposes only and should not be subsituted for the advise of a qualified health care provider.
Please make sure you have your symptoms diagnosed by a medical practitioner or a doctor.