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How common is IBS?

Studies estimate IBS affects 3 to 20 percent of the adult population. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than age 45. However, once you have IBS you will have to change your diet and lifestyle in order to be freed from the symptoms.

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Your stomach is already a wreck, constipation or diarrhea are married to you, and your doctor suggests fiber? Ouch. But, with our hustle and bustle of everyday life, most of us don’t get nearly enough. Most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should. Nutrition guidelines recommend 25 to 38 grams per day; the average American consumes only about 14 grams.

Besides the answer to your IBS problems, eating enough fiber is important for helping to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Research also suggests that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you to feel fuller after you eat.

The theme here is getting enough fresh fruit, vegetables, grains to make sure nothing sticks around too long in your gut. Outside of going crazy, counting everything you eat to make sure the grams add up by the end of the day, it is relatively easy to get enough fiber.

Choose whole fruits. Most fruits contain between 2 and 8 grams of fiber. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are all great sources of fiber (8 grams per cup). Off-season, frozen berries are more widely available and less expensive than fresh ones. Keep a bag or two in the freezer for a quick, healthy snack. Spread the frozen berries on a baking sheet to thaw for half an hour before adding a handful to fat-free yogurt or stirring into your oatmeal.
Eat beans. Beans are a terrific source of fiber: a half cup of cooked navy beans packs a whopping 7 grams of fiber, while the same amount of lentils and kidney beans provide 8 and 6 grams, respectively. Much of this fiber is the soluble kind that benefits blood cholesterol levels. Add beans to soups and salads; serve them as a side with dinner.
Buy a better breakfast cereal. There are plenty of tasty fiber-rich cereals out there. Shop around that also provides at least 8 grams of fiber per serving.
Go for whole-wheat pizza crust. You’ll boost your fiber intake by 50 percent. Switch to whole-wheat pasta. Trade white potatoes in for something sweeter. Sweet potatoes deliver double the fiber of white potatoes. Look for whole-grain breads that provide at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. All squash varieties are rich in fiber. Snack on popcorn. Four cups of air-popped corn (120 calories) delivers 5 grams of fiber.

  1. *Grundmann O, Yoon SL. Irritable bowel syndrome: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment: an update for health-care practitioners. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2010;25:691–699.
  2. *Understanding irritable bowel syndrome. American College of Gastroenterology website. leaving site icon. Accessed August 15, 2013.
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