Dietary Advice

Dietary Advice for Gut Problems

We advise those suffering with gut problems to ensure that they have a proper medical diagnosis before embarking on any dietary programme, we can’t stress this enough.

How to investigate gut symptoms

 

First Line Dietary Management


There are some simple dietary and lifestyle steps that you can take to help control and reduce your painful gut symptoms. We recommend reviewing and trying these measures before embarking on any further restrictive dietary changes.

Attractive young woman eating healthy breakfast and writing something down while sitting near the window at home

Step 1 – Tracking 

  • We recommend that you keep a food diary and record any symptoms, dietary intake, exercise, mood and track your menstrual cycle if applicable
  • This will be a very informative record to bring to your GP/Family Doctor to discuss your symptoms, potential investigations (if necessary) and management options
  • This will also be a useful log to bring to your Dietitian if you have a diagnosis of IBS as they can develop a dietary plan specifically for you

Step 2 – Observe and improve your daily eating behaviour patterns 
  • Are you eating regularly?
  • Do you miss meals?
  • Are you eating too quickly?
  • Could you take more time to eat more slowly?
  • Could you practice more mindful eating?
  • Could you try not to multitask while eating?
  • Are you eating a large meal late at night?
  • Is it better for you to eat little and often, and smaller meals?
  • Are you chewing gum and smoking/vaping between meals? This can lead to swallowing air (aerophagia) and this can cause bloating

 

Once complete, review your answers and see where you can take steps to improve your eating patterns. Small changes can lead to improved gut symptom control.

Step 3 – Look at what you are eating  

  • Limit fresh fruit to 3 portions (portion = ¾ of a cup or 80g) per day. Too much fruit sugar (fructose) may be problematic for those with gut symptoms
  • It may be helpful to reduce your intake of high-fibre foods, in particular cereals high in wheat bran, wholegrain breads and rice. You may be eating too much fibre
  • Try introducing soluble fibre such as porridge oats
  • Avoid eating highly processed ready-made, take away meals and re-cooked foods. These contain ‘resistant starch’ (starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and reaches the colon intact) which causes gut symptoms
  • Avoid foods with artificial sweeteners ending in ‘ol’ such as sorbitol or xylitol. These are often found in sugar-free products (including chewing gum). These may cause crampy pain and diarrhoea

 
Step 4 – What are you drinking?  

  • Drink 1.5-2.0L daily (8-10 cups) fluid per day, particularly water or herbal teas
  • Restrict tea and coffee to 3 cups per day
  • Reduce or avoid carbonated ‘fizzy’ drinks
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Avoid drinks with artificial sweeteners ending in ‘ol’ such as sorbitol or xylitol. These may cause crampy pain and diarrhoea


Step 5 – Know your daily fibre intake
 

Fibre is one of nature’s superfoods and it has many health benefits.

  • Essential for gut health and motility
  • Reduces the risk of bowel cancer
  • Reduces obesity
  • Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduces risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Feeds the trillions of GM

 

So as can be seen from all the health benefits of fibre, it is an essential nutrient for our gut health and overall health. However, for those suffering with gut problems and those with DGBIs (disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction) it is a case of finding the right balance of fibre for your gut, as fibre is highly fermentable and can result in increased gas and bloating. We see patients in our clinics every single day that don’t take the right amount of dietary fibre – either too much or too little. You can have ‘too much of a good thing’ and also not enough fibre.

 

The general recommendations are between 20g (USA), 25 to 35g (IRE), 30g (UK) of fibre per day. We recommend between 20-35g of fibre per day. We also recommend increasing your fibre intake slowly, by 5g per week, as if you do it more quickly you can bring on uncomfortable bloating, cramps and excess wind. There are many helpful apps available that can help you track your fibre intake.

 

Finally, when making dietary changes it is also important that you look at other lifestyle factors and take a holistic approach to your gut health. Visit our Self Care section for some wellbeing tips.