Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often involves careful consideration of not just what you eat but also what to drink with IBS. While there’s ample information on IBS-friendly diets, the topic of suitable beverages is frequently overlooked. This article aims to shed light on optimal drink options that won’t exacerbate your IBS symptoms.
Soft Drinks: Navigating the Carbonation Conundrum
Sodas, given their carbonation, pose a risk of excessive gassiness that can trigger IBS discomfort. Although parting ways with sodas might be challenging, especially if you enjoy them, it could be a worthwhile endeavor for your overall health.
Regular sodas, laden with extremely high sugar levels, are linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. While diet sodas offer an alternative, it’s advisable to steer clear of artificial sweeteners, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system.
Embrace Iced Tea: A Refreshing Alternative
Replace sodas with iced tea—a splendid non-carbonated option. Whether black, green, white, or herbal, these teas are IBS-friendly. Consider keeping a pitcher of homemade unsweetened iced tea in your refrigerator, and when dining out, opt for unsweetened variations. If you crave sweetness, a small amount of sugar (avoiding artificial sweeteners) in low quantities is unlikely to trigger symptoms.
Milk Alternatives: A Dairy Dilemma Resolved
Given that many with IBS are lactose intolerant, exploring milk alternatives for cereals, smoothies, and other culinary needs is prudent. Optimal choices include lactose-free milk, limited quantities of coconut milk, rice milk, and small portions of almond milk.
Even for those not lactose intolerant, it’s worth noting that lactose is one of the fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) associated with IBS symptoms. Soy milk, however, high in FODMAPs, is not recommended for those with IBS.
Exploring Dairy Dilemmas: Making Informed Choices
The seemingly innocent glass of milk alongside meals may not always be friendly to digestive systems. Lactose-free milk, a savior for those with lactose intolerance, is permitted on a low-FODMAP diet. Yet, discussions on the necessity of cow’s milk in the human diet persist, with some questioning its claimed benefits for bone health.
While dairy milk has been associated with various health risks, including acne and certain cancers, almond milk emerges as a low-FODMAP alternative.
Hemp and Coconut Milk: A Nutrient-Rich Duo
Hemp milk, derived from hemp seeds, offers a nutrient-packed profile with omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids, making it an excellent plant-based protein source. Coconut milk, though a good source of fiber and vital nutrients, requires mindful portion control for those with IBS.
Commercial coconut milks may contain guar gum, a non-FODMAP but potentially laxative substance. Making your own coconut milk at home ensures control over added ingredients.
Kefir: Fermented Bliss for Digestive Health
Kefir, a fermented milk drink rich in probiotics, presents a delightful alternative. While it hasn’t undergone FODMAP testing at Monash University, its fermentation process suggests low lactose content, potentially making it well-tolerated by those with IBS.
Indulging in a comforting hot drink offers a plethora of choices to suit your preferences and digestive well-being.
Hot drink options
Hot Teas: Opting for hot tea is a wise choice, with black, green, and white tea being low in FODMAPs. If caffeine doesn’t sit well with your digestive system, consider choosing decaffeinated options.
Herbal Teas: Herbal teas provide not only warmth but also additional soothing benefits. Peppermint, known for its antispasmodic qualities, can alleviate discomfort. While anise and fennel teas are excellent for IBS-C, it’s essential to note that they aren’t compliant with a low-FODMAP diet. Chamomile, though soothing, is also not recommended for those following the low-FODMAP guidelines.
Enjoy in Moderation: For those looking to indulge in moderation, coffee, espresso, and hot chocolate are viable options. Consider limiting yourself to one of these beverages per day. If you prefer hot chocolate, try making it with water instead of milk. For coffee enthusiasts, experiment with milk alternatives as creamers for a digestive-friendly choice.
Best Adult Drinks
While alcohol can be a potential digestive irritant, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on adult beverages entirely. If you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, you can still enjoy:
- Wine (red, white, or sparkling)
Remember to limit your intake to no more than two drinks a day and avoid high-FODMAP fruit drinks as mixers. Opt for cranberry, the sole low-FODMAP option. If carbonation is well-tolerated, consider mixing your drinks with club soda for a refreshing twist. Cheers to enjoying your favorite hot and adult beverages while keeping your digestive health in mind!
For individuals managing IBS, incorporating fermented drinks into your daily routine can prove to be a beneficial choice. These beverages carry the potential to enhance the balance of gut bacteria, thereby theoretically alleviating symptoms. Packed with various probiotic strains, these drinks contribute to a healthier gut.
- Kombucha: A fermented tea, opt for varieties with low sugar content, and be mindful of its trace alcohol content.
- Kefir: This fermented milk drink, with reduced lactose through fermentation, is suitable even for those with lactose intolerance. Non-dairy alternatives like coconut kefirs are also available.
- Yogurt Drinks: Explore yogurt drink options, but be mindful of added sugars and avoid high-FODMAP fruits.
Green drink options
Green smoothies: A blend of liquids, vegetables, and fruits, offer a nutritious option for those with IBS.
- Use a powerful blender to pulverize low-FODMAP greens like spinach.
- Sweeten with bananas and berries (excluding blackberries) for added flavor and phytonutrients.
- Incorporate healthy fats such as nut butter, coconut oil, or half an avocado. Chia seeds and ground flaxseed can assist with IBS symptoms.
- Opt for low-FODMAP liquid bases like almond milk, coconut milk (limited to 1/2 cup), kefir, lactose-free milk, rice milk, or water.
Green Juices: Made with a juicer, green juices provide a concentrated infusion of phytonutrients and IBS-friendly soluble fiber. Choose low-FODMAP ingredients for optimal digestion.
Water is the best choice
Undoubtedly, water remains the optimal choice for hydration and overall well-being.
- Drink water consistently throughout the day to support digestion, especially crucial for those with chronic constipation or diarrhea.
- Carry a reusable water bottle for convenience and add a splash of lemon juice for enhanced flavor and digestive benefits.
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- Cozma-Petruţ A, et al. (2017). “Diet in irritable bowel syndrome: what to recommend, not what to forbid to patients!.” World Journal of Gastroenterology.