Fermented Foods For IBS

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is just as horrible as it sounds. Your bowel is irritated, and it feels like it’s lashing out at your own body. While there are several treatments doctors prescribe for IBS, there is no known cure. And the cause is debatable.

Here are the most common symptoms of IBS:

  • abdominal cramps
  • bloating
  • alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • blood or mucus in stools
  • excessive gas
  • food allergies

There is plenty of emerging evidence that fermented foods have a positive effect on those with IBS. Fermented foods for IBS is more considered a natural remedy, but many people share anecdotally that it is one of the best therapeutic aids they have experienced.

This is not surprising since fermented foods are easier to digest and also come with lots of probiotics and living enzymes that help your body function properly!

Are you wondering what the best fermented foods for IBS are? Let’s take a look.

1. Fermented Dairy

The best fermented dairy for IBS includes milk kefir, yogurt, sour cream. These are super helpful for IBS because the milk proteins are broken down, lactose is low, and they have all the important building blocks (amino acids) of a healthy gut. There are also a few studies that confirm the benefits of fermented dairy beverages for IBS healing (source).

Milk kefir is the most potent. It is made with fresh milk and milk kefir grains, fermented for approximately 24 hours. It is very high in a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that provide numerous nutrients and crowd out pathogens.

Homemade yogurt is most helpful for IBS. The yogurt is even better if it has been fermented for 24 hours as done on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet. When fermented for a long time, yogurt has much lower lactose than store-bought yogurt. It is also more acidic and the milk proteins are broken down, making them easier to digest.

Sour cream is beneficial when homemade. One benefit is that it is higher in fat. This can be helpful for stopping diarrhea. It can also be helpful for easing constipation! It is low in lactose and it tastes great on a variety of foods!

You might think that acidic foods are bad for IBS, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the problems with those who have IBS tends to be not having enough digestive enzymes and low stomach acid. When this happens, it means your body cannot break down and digest foods properly. It also means food and pathogens are allowed to affect your body in ways they should not. Having more healthy acidic foods can help to combat all of these issues. Taking powerful digestive enzymes and HCl supplements can also help.

2. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a ferment that belongs on almost every list! It is very acidic and high in vitamin C. It is a potent digestive aid and helps to eliminate pathogens from the digestive tract quickly. It also helps to get rid of compacted poop that’s been stuck in your system for who knows how long! Yuck!

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. The fermentation process transforms the cabbage to a nutritional powerhouse, high in vitamins, minerals and lactic acid bacteria. This study found that a daily dose of raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut has the potential to lower symptoms and change the gut microbiota of IBS patients.

3. Kimchi

Many people with IBS avoid spicy foods because it can exacerbate their symptoms. Because of this, many of you would believe that there aren’t any benefits to kimchi consumption. However, consuming kimchi for IBS is a smart idea for multiple reasons.

When kimchi is properly fermented for several months, the result is an abundance of beneficial bacteria and short chain fatty acids that are amazing for gut health.

The move away from fermented foods has caused a noticeable change in our diets and corresponding gut health. The difference is noted with digestive diseases such as IBS.

The composition of microbiota in healthy African children from Burkina Faso, a country with a low incidence of IBD, included greater amounts of Prevotella, greater microbial diversity, and higher levels of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) than the microbiota of healthy European children from Italy, a country with a high incidence rate of IBD. Similar results were observed when the microbiota of healthy individuals from South America and South Asia were compared with the microbiota of healthy individuals from an industrialized country such as the United States

Kanai, T., Matsuoka, K., Naganuma, M., Hayashi, A., & Hisamatsu, T. (2014)

Overall, fermented foods are important to include in your diet if you have IBS. There are multiple studies underway that are showing the benefits of fermented foods for IBS, such as this one. Initial studies believe multi-strain probiotics work best, and fermented foods are a natural way to include multiple strains of beneficial organisms in your diet, along with a host of valuable nutrients.