Is A Plant-Based Diet Good (Or Bad) For My IBS?

Is A Plant-Based Diet Good (Or Bad) For My IBS?

Are you struggling with IBS?


Do you follow a plant-based diet?


Is a plant-based diet for IBS a good idea?

Well, that depends...

While a plant-based diet has many benefits, it is not always a straightforward solution for those with IBS.

Many plant-based foods are difficult to digest because they contain fermentable short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols, which can irritate your gastrointestinal (GI) system and cause or worsen IBS symptoms.

Not the answer you were hoping for, right? Stick with us.

On the other side of that spectrum - many plant-based foods are free of these elements and are easier on your digestive system. Plant-based foods low on the FODMAP diet (more on this later), are some great options for people with IBS following a plant-based or vegan diet. 

So a plant-based diet and IBS can work together, but your beloved lentils may not be the best idea.

More below on what IBS is, which foods and lifestyle factors worsen it, and which plant-based foods are safe to consume when struggling with IBS.

what is ibs?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine and can persist for an extended period. Still, it is not usually associated with long-term damage to the intestines or other parts of the body.

It is characterized by a group of symptoms, including:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping
  2. Bloating
  3. Gas
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhea

The severity and frequency of these symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and they may come and go over time.

What is the cause of IBS?

What is the cause of IBS?

The exact cause of IBS is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to a combination of factors. However, a substantial proportion of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) associate their symptoms with ingesting specific foods.

The most common factors causing IBS include:

  1. Gastrointestinal Motility: IBS may be related to abnormal contractions of the muscles in the gut, which can lead to bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
  2. Nervous System: IBS may be related to an overly sensitive gut, where even normal sensations are perceived as painful.
  3. Inflammation: Some people with IBS may have low-grade inflammation in the gut, which can contribute to symptoms.
  4. Hormones: Women are more likely to have IBS than men, so researchers believe hormonal changes may worsen symptoms.
  5. Gut Microbiome: An imbalance in gut bacteria (gut microbiome) may contribute to IBS symptoms.
  6. Food Sensitivities: Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms in some people, such as fatty foods, dairy products, and artificial sweeteners.
  7. Stress: Stress is a common trigger for IBS symptoms, as it can cause changes in the gut microbiome and affect gut motility.

It's important to note that everyone's experience with IBS is unique, and the specific cause of their symptoms may vary. In many cases, a combination of factors is thought to contribute to IBS.

what are the best plant-based foods for ibs?

Plant-based diets can benefit people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as they are often high in fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can help reduce symptoms.

However, some people could find that plant-based foods worsen IBS if they don't limit their intake of fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs). And since plant-based foods are high in fiber, a sudden increase in these foods may shock and irritate the gut. 

Here are some of the best plant-based foods for IBS:

Low-FODMAP foods

86 percent of participants with IBS in a  2016 study had fewer GI symptoms when eating the low-FODMAP diet. See below a list of high and low-FODMAP plant-based foods.

Low FODMAP soy foods

including soy milk made from soy bean protein, regular tofu (the firmer, the better), tempeh, and edamame beans (not the pods).

Whole grains

Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are high in fiber, offer protein, regulate bowel movements, and reduce constipation and diarrhea.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fibers like sweet potato, oatmeal, bananas, and psyllium can improve symptoms of IBS. READ MORE: Psyllium Husk - The what, why, and how on this fiber-rich ingredient.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can help improve gut health.


Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries (not blackberries), are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and they are also low in FODMAPs.

Legumes and beans*

Canned, sprouted, or soaked legumes and beans are easier to digest (although they are considered high FODMAP. Adzuki, mung, and butter beans are some great options. Enjoy these in smaller quantities. READ MORE: The easiest beans to digest, making you less gassy and bloated.

Soaked nuts or nut butter

Saoked nuts or nut butter are easier to digest than regular nuts since the phytates and enzyme inhibitors in nuts can be neutralized by soaking in salt water.

Isolated pea protein powder

Although peas are high-FODMAP, protein that is isolated from peas is low FODMAP, making pea protein powders a good protein alternative. Be aware of any preservatives or additives that are mixed with your beloved pea protein.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, are rich in probiotics, which can help improve gut health and reduce symptoms of IBS.


Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, making it a natural remedy for abdominal pain, bloating, and gas associated with IBS.


Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve abdominal pain and reduce bloating in some people with IBS.