Fats and IBS - Are High Fat Foods IBS Diet Triggers?

  • Yes! Fats are a huge GI stimulant- whether you have IBS or not.

  • With IBS, they often trigger an overreaction of the gastrocolic reflex.

    • Gastro-what? When food enters your stomach, it triggers the gastrocolic reflex, which cues your colon to start contracting.

    • Ever had an IBS attack just minutes after eating the wrong thing? Blame your gastrocolic reflex.

    • The more calories in a food, the stronger that reflex.

    • Fats (9 calories per gram) are more than twice as calorie dense as carbohydrates or proteins (both 4 calories per gram).

    • Result? Fats can cause painful spasms, urgency, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating.



  • Worst high fat triggers? Red meat, dairy, egg yolks, fried foods, greasy dressings and sauces. Please avoid.

  • A low fat diet is key for managing IBS - but - low fat does NOT mean fat free!

  • Keep your fat intake to 20% - 25% of total calories, and make your fats count.

    • It makes no difference to your gastrocolic reflex if you eat lard or extra-virgin olive oil.

    • But it makes quite a difference to your heart, cancer risks, and your overall health.

  • Focus on monounsaturated fats and essential fatty acids.

    • Olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, avocados, finely ground nuts, fatty fish, flax oil, hemp oil.

    • Use these fats in small quantities, with a soluble fiber foundation, following the Eating for IBS guidelines.

Tip Takeaway: Fats trigger the gastrocolic reflex to overreact, causing IBS symptoms to flare. Go low fat, not fat free. Focus on heart-healthy oils and avoid the high fat trigger foods.

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