Doctors recommend that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) increase their dietary fiber intake to manage symptoms.

IBS is a group of gastrointestinal symptoms that can significantly affect a person’s lifestyle.

Symptoms usually ease as an individual learns to manage the condition. Research from 2017 suggests that dietary fiber intake can help improve symptoms and regulate digestion for people with IBS.

This article explores the different types of dietary fiber and their effects on IBS. It also discusses how to get enough fiber and when to speak with a doctor.

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No evidence suggests that any particular fiber or diet can cause, prevent, or cure IBS. However, doctors recommend that people with IBS increase their dietary fiber intake to relieve symptoms.

Fiber is a plant-based nutrient known as bulk or roughage, which aids digestion and improves bowel movement. It is present primarily in plant foods, such as:

Scientists believe that IBS may be due to low dietary fiber intake, and consuming a fiber-rich diet following a doctor’s recommendation can help.

A 2022 article notes a link between a high fiber intake and a lower risk of gastrointestinal conditions, including IBS. Different types of dietary fiber affect digestion in different ways.

Soluble fibers are water-soluble plant-derived foods. Digestive bacteria break them down into gases and by-products, such as short-chain fatty acids. Sources of soluble fibers are:

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is not soluble in water and adds bulk to stool, improving bowel movement as food passes through the digestive tract. Some examples of insoluble fiber include the following:

Read more about soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fermentable fibers are readily fermented by colon bacteria, while nonfermentable fibers are not.

Some examples of fermentable fibers include:

Examples of nonfermentable fibers are:

A 2017 review notes the consumption of soluble, nonfermentable fiber can significantly improve symptoms of IBS. Doctors recommend that people with IBS take 20–35 grams (g) of soluble and nonfermentable dietary fiber daily.

Soluble and highly fermentable dietary fiber causes rapid gas production, causing bloating, abdominal pain, and flatulence. However, low consumption of dietary fiber can also cause IBS.

The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal disorders (IFFGD) notes that consuming too little or too much dietary fiber can lead to IBS.

A person should consult a doctor to determine the correct dietary fiber intake for their condition.

In addition to eating more fiber, a doctor may recommend a low FODMAP diet.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which are high in fermentable dietary fiber. A low FODMAP diet is low in these substances.

Research from 2017 and 2020 suggests that the low FODMAP diet is an effective treatment for IBS than a regular diet. However, there is still a need for more research on its mechanism of action on IBS. 3

A person with IBS can get adequate fiber by following a low FODMAP diet. This includes:

Food sourceExamples
proteinsfish, beef, chicken, lamb, prawns, eggs
whole grains and starchesoats, corn, lentils, quinoa, potatoes, cassava
fruitskiwi, limes, guava, grapes, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
vegetablescarrots, eggplant, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, pumpkin, bell peppers, kale
nutsalmonds, pine nuts, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts
seedssesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
dairylactose-free milk, Greek yogurt, other low fat yogurts
oilscoconut oil, olive oils
beveragespeppermint tea, green tea, water
condimentssalt, fish sauce, soy sauce, paprika, ginger, mustard, pepper

Find out more about a low FODMAP diet.

A person should contact a doctor if they are experiencing symptoms of IBS. These include:

A person should also consult a doctor if symptoms do not improve after making the necessary dietary modifications.

IBS is a gastrointestinal condition that causes discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract.

Research suggests that sufficient intake of dietary fiber can improve IBS symptoms. Additional evidence indicates that consuming a low FODMAP diet can significantly benefit people with IBS.

Doctors recommend a low FODMAP diet as a safe and inexpensive nutritional therapy. If a person has symptoms of IBS or does not improve after following the recommended dietary modification, they can speak with a doctor.