Is Keto Good for IBS? What To Eat and What To Avoid
The keto diet has been gaining popularity over the last decade, and there are all sorts of potential benefits to be gained from the keto diet. One of the major benefits is weight management, but there’s a whole world of awesome keto benefits to explore. If you suffer from IBS, have you wondered if a keto diet could help you?
Read on to learn about IBS, its common causes, and how the keto diet might help people with IBS symptoms. Finally, we'll give you a few suggestions on what to eat if you have IBS and what to avoid.
What Is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the large intestines. While IBS doesn't change the tissue in the bowels, it generally causes bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. You may have any number of these IBS symptoms, as IBS can look different in everyone.
IBS is pretty common. Although it doesn’t seem to lead to any other health conditions, it could affect your quality of life and your mood. Stress and the foods you eat are the biggest triggers for IBS, so talk to your doctor to see how you can best manage your symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes.
What Are the Causes of IBS?
While the exact causes of IBS are still unknown, it could have something to do with the way your muscles contract in your intestines. Stronger-than-normal contractions may lead to excess gas and bloating, while weaker-than-normal contractions may lead to constipation.
Your nervous system may also play a part in your IBS symptoms. The brain and gut are in constant communication, like a Snapchat streak that never ends. When this connection is unbalanced, your body may overreact to normal digestive changes.
Stress also might play a part in IBS symptoms. If you experienced stress as a child, you may be more likely to experience IBS.
Finally, changes in the gut may also cause IBS. A severe infection may cause a disruption in the gut microbiome, which can cause IBS symptoms. The gut microbiome is a delicate balance of gut bacteria, fungus, and other microbes in the gut. A healthy microbiome can support your overall health — helping with IBS symptoms is just the tip of the iceberg.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet — or keto diet — emphasizes a moderate protein, high fat, and low carb diet. It’s thought that when carbs (which turn into glucose when digested) are removed, your body will turn to another source for its energy.
Glucose is traditionally the main source of energy for the body. When glucose is not available, the body switches its energy source to ketones, which come from fat. This switch pushes your body into ketosis and may benefit weight loss and metabolic function.
Is Keto Good for IBS?
A major trigger for IBS is the food you eat. Those Hot Cheetos may be doing more harm than just setting your mouth ablaze!
Often, doctors recommend you follow a strict diet to reduce the symptoms of IBS and improve your digestive health. The key to helping your IBS may be to eliminate certain foods that can trigger IBS symptoms. Many of the triggering foods are a Big No on the keto diet as well, specifically carbohydrates.
What Foods Should You Eat With IBS?
If you're looking for ways to manage your IBS through the food you eat, keto may be a helpful diet to try. Here are some foods to be sure to include in your diet which may help improve your gut health and IBS symptoms.
Fruit can be villainized for its high sugar contents, a few fruits are great for both a keto diet and IBS management. Fruit is loaded with beneficial nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and probiotics.
Prebiotics help stimulate the growth of the healthy bacteria in your gut while reducing the bad bacteria. Meanwhile, probiotics are good bacteria themselves.
Fruits you should reach for with IBS include:
Veggies are packed full of nutrients, but they can be hard to digest for people with IBS. When you cook your vegetables, the fibers break down, eliminating some of the work your digestive tract needs to do.
You don’t have to boil your veggies until they're unrecognizable mush. Save the baby food for actual babies. Try steaming, roasting, or sauteing your vegetables instead for a yummy treat that might help you feel as good as your veggies taste.
Keto-approved veggies great for IBS are:
For some people, dairy may cause bloating and gas. If you add these uncomfortable symptoms on top of IBS symptoms, it can be quite painful.
Many people with IBS stay clear from dairy products altogether — sorry, sour cream. However, all of our products are dairy-free, making them a delicious option for people with IBS who are following the keto diet.
While the keto diet does tend to rely heavily on dairy products, there are ways to be keto without overdoing the dairy. Still, it might be wise to speak with your doctor about whether keto is right for you.
Dairy-free milks that may not trigger IBS symptoms include:
- Coconut milk
- Almond milk
- Hemp milk
No matter what type of diet you're following, everyone needs some sweetness in their day! Dairy and sugar can be super triggering for IBS. Our no sugar added and dairy-free chocolates are perfect for curbing your sweet tooth at any time of the day.
Try our Peanut Butter Cups, White Chocolate With Almond Pieces, or Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar — or grab our Chocolate Sampler and give all 3 a go!
What Foods Should You Avoid With IBS?
If you suffer from IBS, the goal should be to eat foods that aid digestion or are easy to digest. Consuming foods that make this process difficult can lead to gnarly flare-ups.
There are certain trigger foods that you’ll probably want to avoid if you have IBS. Many of these foods are also decidedly not keto-approved, making them a double-whammy of “Eh, maybe these aren’t for me” energy.
Here are some foods you should look to avoid to help manage IBS symptoms.
Many people experience worsening IBS symptoms when they consume gluten. Gluten can cause bloating, gas, and cramping.
When looking for gluten-free foods, be careful to look at labels, as some gluten-free foods may contain higher levels of sugar to make them taste better. Instead of looking for pre-packaged gluten-free options, choose foods that are naturally gluten-free.
Oats are an incredible option if you're sticking to a gluten-free diet. You can cook it as oatmeal, grind the oats into flour, or drink oat milk. Oats are also high in soluble fiber, which helps in digestion and bowel movements. In moderation, oats are also acceptable on a keto diet.
While vegetables are full of beneficial vitamins and minerals, certain veggies can trigger IBS symptoms. These veggies are more difficult to digest and may cause excess gas, bloating, and affect your bowel movements. Raw veggies may also pose a risk of IBS symptoms because the fibers are harder to break down if not cooked.
Veggies to avoid with IBS include:
- Brussel sprouts
Fried foods are generally considered unhealthy across the board, and IBS is no exception. (Sorry, fried Oreos!)
Fried foods are certainly far from being keto-approved, and they can be incredibly difficult to digest and break down, causing flare-ups of IBS symptoms.
Fried foods are usually high in unhealthy fats, calories, and salt. Consuming these types of foods can also have negative effects on heart health, metabolic function, weight management, and overall wellness.
If you're hoping to reduce your IBS symptoms, you may want to eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods are full of unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, artificial ingredients, and refined carbohydrates that can all make digestion more difficult.
When you're trying to change your diet to help manage your IBS symptoms or improve your overall health, it's always best to add more whole foods to your diet. Try reducing or eliminating prepared frozen meals, pre-packaged bread, and cereals where you can. It tastes better when you make it yourself, anyway. Plus, most of those options aren’t keto-friendly, either.
One diet specific to IBS is the FODMAP diet. This is short for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are natural sugars that are difficult to digest and absorb.
These FODMAP sugars are found in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and grains, and they may trigger IBS symptoms. Many of the foods that you should avoid on the FODMAP diet are also not keto-approved, allowing these diets to work together to potentially benefit IBS symptoms.
Refined sugars may also trigger IBS symptoms. Sugars are difficult for the small intestines to absorb, causing them to head to the large intestines, where the bacteria ferment them. This may contribute to IBS symptoms.
Luckily, all our chocolates and baking ingredients are free of added sugars. You can allow yourself a sweet treat, knowing they're not loaded with unnecessary sugars that may irritate your IBS.
IBS may be a common condition, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure constant symptoms. By watching what you eat, eating more foods that may not cause IBS symptoms, and eliminating trigger foods, you may be able to help manage your IBS. Keto may be one diet plan that can improve digestive health, so it’s worth looking into.
What you eat may play a huge role in your overall health and wellness. MiiRO understands the importance of a healthy diet, but we also believe everyone deserves to eat the snacks they love without compromising taste. No, it’s not magic — it’s MiiRO!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
What Do We Know About the Keto Diet? | Cedars-Sinai
A Very Low-carbohydrate Diet Improves Symptoms and Quality of Life in Diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome | PubMed
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (for Teens) | Nemours KidsHealth