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Stop IBS Symptoms Immediately (And Finally Feel Better!) With These 10 Tips from Dr. Mark Hyman


Did you know that about 60 million people — 20 percent of Americans — have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? (That’s more than the population of California and New York combined!) These people struggle with miserable, often disabling symptoms like bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and pain. The first step to healing is finding the root cause, says functional medicine expert Dr. Mark Hyman. However, changing your diet can be the simplest, most effective way to treat IBS and IBS symptoms. Read Dr. Hyman’s 10 strategies for eliminating IBS symptoms below.

IBS is caused by a variety of factors. Your gut lining can break down from stress; too many antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or Advil; steroids; intestinal infections; a low-fiber, high-sugar diet; alcohol and even C-sections (which we have seen increase dramatically in recent years). These and other factors can trigger and activate an immune response, sparking food allergies and aggravating your second brain (the enteric nervous system), creating havoc that leads to IBS and frustrating and painful IBS symptoms. It isn’t just your bowel that can become affected; so can your mood, your energy levels and a host of other problems.

The key to healing IBS and IBS symptoms is to first determine the root cause. That’s where functional medicine comes in. In functional medicine, we know one disease can have many causes (or that one thing can cause many diseases, such as with gluten) and that the causes vary depending on the individual.

We typically find that the main causes of IBS come from food allergies and sensitivities or gut imbalances. Certain foods can irritate your bowel and digestive system. While you may not have a true allergy like a peanut or shellfish allergy, even a mild food sensitivity can cause terrible symptoms. And gluten is one of the most common foods that can trigger food sensitivities or allergy type reactions. Even if your doctor tells you that your tests for gluten antibodies or celiac are normal, you can still have a severe reaction. Additionally dairy products which contain proteins like casein and whey, and soy, corn and eggs can contribute to your gut problems. Your functional medicine doctor can run tests to assess food sensitivities and gluten reactions.

Additionally, imbalances in your gut ecosystem such as leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or yeast overgrowth can trigger or exacerbate IBS. The key to reversing these imbalances is to reboot your gut by getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff.

10 Strategies to Eliminate IBS

Since there can be numerous underlying issues that contribute to IBS, I suggest consulting with a functional medicine practitioner to figure out your own personal dietary and medical plan. Also, keep a journal to document what bothers your own body.

However, you can get almost immediate results and improve your IBS symptoms by changing your diet. I recommend an ultra-simple, anti-inflammatory diet that is low in allergens, refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods. You might also want to remove foods that can be irritating to the gut, such as gluten, dairy, grains and beans.

Here are 10 dietary tips that can help reverse or prevent IBS and IBS symptoms and create good gut health:

1. Eat protein. Make sure to eat protein at every meal, even breakfast. This helps to avoid blood sugar imbalances that can feed bad gut bacteria.  Eat lots of clean and sustainably-raised animal protein, including fish, turkey, chicken and lean cuts of lamb, as well as plenty of vegetable protein such as nuts, beans, seeds and tofu.

2. Eat high-fiber foods. Whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit all contain beneficial fiber which is good for you and your gut.

3. Don’t be scared of fat!  But only the healthy fats.  Eat lots of cold-water wild salmon, sardines, herring, flax seed and even seaweed to get Omega-3 fats. Try to eat more grass-fed or organic animal products. And completely eliminate all hydrogenated fat that is found in margarine, shortening and processed oils, as well as many baked goods and processed foods. Replace with healthy oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil), cold pressed sesame oil and other nut oils.

4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least 8 to 10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day. These help not only with IBS, but they also contain disease fighting vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules.

5. Cut out processed food. This includes processed junk food, sodas, juices and diet drinks, as they can all impact sugar and lipid metabolism. Liquid sugar calories are the biggest contributor to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

6. Add in herbs and supplements. Eliminating IBS requires that you get rid of the bad stuff, but you need to replace it with good for you herbs and supplements. Nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, glutamine, omega-3 fats (fish oil) and evening primrose oil can help repair the gut lining. I also use herbs like quercetin and turmeric to reduce inflammation and heal a leaky gut.

7. Reduce stress. Incorporate stress reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing and yoga into your daily life. You might also consider trying my relaxing UltraCalm CD.

8. Get some sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you fat and lead to depression, pain, heart disease, diabetes and so many other problems. Aim for 7-8 hours a night.

9. Exercise regularly. Daily exercise can help with so many health issues. Even 30 minutes of vigorous walking works, but if you want something more strenuous, try high-intensity interval training or weight resistance.

10. Take probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that can really help your digestive tract! Take very high-potency probiotics (look for at least 25 billion live CFU’s from diversified strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii), twice a day for one to two months. It helps to start slowly to see how the probiotics affect your gut. Sometimes, certain individuals may need to delay probiotics until they have healed their gut lining. Eating fermented foods like kimchi also contributes to healthy gut flora.

IBS can cause painful and disabling IBS symptoms. However, there is a way to help. First, I recommend you consult with a functional medicine doctor to determine the root cause to your IBS. Causes vary by individual and can include food allergies or gut imbalances. However, you can get immediate results to your IBS symptoms by following my 10 dietary tips. By following my approach, most people can heal their IBS and IBS symptoms and improve their gut health.

Wishing you health and happiness.

Did you know that Further Food Collagen Peptides can help repair your intestinal lining and heal leaky gut? Learn more here!

Ready to cut sugar out from your life? Take the #SugarPledge and sign up for our FREE 7-Day Sugar Detox Challenge

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20 thoughts on “Stop IBS Symptoms Immediately (And Finally Feel Better!) With These 10 Tips from Dr. Mark Hyman

  1. Christopher

    I have ibs-d ! 55 year old male that is in pretty good shape. Doesn’t smoke and rarely drinks! Can you give me advice on specifically what supplements to take for this. Thank You

  2. Violet Quak

    I live in Sydney Australia and have IBS which was caused by C-Difficile and other parasites.
    I have been treated with faecal transplant and antibiotics. Since than I have IBS with chronic constipation
    And faecal loading. I was put on. 4 or more movicol satchels per day and 3 coloxyl with senna per day.
    I would like to do a GI map test etc.
    Pls advise the name and contact details of your laboratory so my doctor can request a test kit.

  3. Rajneesh Bhatia

    What I believe is IBS is very much connected to Brain. I had 21 yrs back and then again in this current year it has triggered. Earlier I was a over thinker and stopped thinking and now again over thinking has started which has led me to catch IBS again. Any on this can you suggest. What to eat, what not to eat, drink, Low fodmap diet, drink、
    I am Diabetic too. On insulin
    Treatment going for Sycryzophenia too
    Very positive. Very happy in my business, yoga practitioner. Not regular.

  4. Paula

    Dr. Hyman, can you please give a recommended dose of Omega-3’s and Quercitin for IBS and whether these should be on an empty stomach? Thank you.

  5. Yvonne

    My IBS was caused from eating too much of a high fiber diet. Plus stress from a death in family. I had to slow it down with a low fiber diet plus Acidophilus Probiotic 1billion organisms helped.

  6. Ellen Kaye

    I have had IBS problems for 6 tickets Plus and I have always loved eating nuts I just found out that cashews are not good for IBS. But then I’ve read that eating nuts can be harmful for IBS so I’m confused because you mentioned that it’s it’s a good thing to eat and I always thought that was true now I’m not sure what to do about that. I also have gluten sensitivity so I’m not a big loss as to what to do. I know I can’t have salads before dinner and I don’t know what else to do and I have to eat more than three meals a day and I’m at a loss with that too because I don’t know what to buy. Please help me! Thank you

  7. Ann Philbin

    Dear Dr. Hyman,

    Thanks so much for these articles about IBS. I am writing in regards to my son, who is now 21. He spent a semester in Cuba and rural Mexico, and I think, came back with parasites. After taking a month of alinia, his symptoms were no better (mainly frequent diarrhea, and, initially weight loss). We went to a naturopath, who treated my son with a kind of cleanse for a couple of months, in addition to live culture probiotics. It seemed like the parasites were gone, but my son has been left with the ibs symptoms, which he has now had for a year. I would just like to help my son use a healthy diet and supplements, like enzymes and probiotics, that might give his bowel the rest it needs to heal. But, with young adults his age, it is important to be simple with dietary advice. He also suffers from reflux, which may be hereditary, as I have airway reflux as well. Any more specific suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for all your important work! Ann

    1. Recipe Team

      Hi Elizabeth:
      We are sorry to hear about your troubles with IBS. Further Food contains lots of articles and recipes by people with IBS who have found some relief. We hope you will give their suggestions a try. Dr. Hyman’s article also contains some really helpful suggestions too. Good Luck!

  8. Gwen Sanchez

    I would like to know how to reach you. I presume your in California? If so where? I have been diagnosed with inflammation at the end of my esophagus, also with intestinal inflammation. If your able to take new patient’s, or can recommend a Dr. In the bay area like you, I would appreciate any help you can give me. Oh yes the lower inflammation was called colitis.
    Thank you for any help you can give.
    Gwen Sanchez

  9. Bob

    This article has been very helpful. I have always had pain in the colon areas. However, I live in a very rural area, and doctors here are easily baffled when it comes to treating things. I have had X-Rays, Abdominal Cat Scan, over a thousand dollars in blood tests, EGD which showed mild gastritis, been placed on carafate, and antacids. Not a single thing has helped. When things flare up, doctors keep going back to square one on treatment and tests, which has been of no benefit whatsoever. It has also been very expensive.

    I have tried telling my family doctor, nurse practitioners that I believe it is more colon related. They just give me a smug look and tell me it is my “mild gastritis.” The pain is in all four quadrants. Stress has been driving me nuts this past year, because doctors where I live will not listen to my complaints, and write me off “because I am young.” There are days I can barely stand because of the pain. At 34 years old, I should be enjoying life, not dreading every moment I breathe. I am going to try some of this, and hopefully get some results. At this point, I have nothing to lose.

  10. Cheryl Elaine Sherman

    I have suffer with IBS for over 20+ years.. test after test medication different supplements I never no are when it’s going to hit sometimes mild to severe pain. After going through 3 Gastrologist I found one that prescribed me a cocktail that helps with the pain and a heating pad and it’s down time for me..IBS in control of my life.

  11. Melissa

    I’m surprised you did not mention the Low FODMAP Elimination diet for IBS. I have gotten amazing relief with it! I am still in the reintroduction phase but feel like a new woman since I cut out all the FODMAP foods. It’s amazing.

  12. Traci Montero

    Hi Dr. Hyman,

    How do I know if I’m getting all the nutrients that my body needs? Should I use a multivitamin in addition to a healthy diet? How do I choose a multivitamin that will be readily available for my body to process.

  13. Belinda Price

    We believe my daughter has hidradenitis supurativa. After several years and much suffering, it’s our most educated guess. Since it is an autoimmune disease, I’m wondering if anyone can shine any light on a good treatment? We’ve tried paleo, eliminating gluten, etc. The longest remission has come with the absence of sugar, but nothing has been permanent. Any insight would been much appreciated.

    1. Recipe Team

      Hi Belinda. Functional medicine doctors such as Dr. Mark Hyman can provide advice and treatment for your daughter’s condition. Sugar can definitely cause a lot of health issues, so cutting that out is a good idea. In the meantime, check out Further Food-we have a lot of articles by health experts and health heroes on how to deal with autoimmune illnesses.
      Good luck to you and your daughter.

  14. karen

    Although my celiac test came back normal, I got abnormal IgA low at 56. I’m really doing well with healing the gut but what does this abnormal result really mean? I rarely get colds and really don’t know if I’ve ever had the flu so is this a real concern? I follow up with the doctor next week but I would really appreciate any information you can give.

    TIA K

  15. J Duncan

    Most people, like myself, who have IBS know their triggers. I agree with this in the most part. I am on a modified plant based, no refined sugars or flour diet. I still have to add in a couple of eggs/week which calms my IBS substantially. I do eat chicken/turkey breast and wild fish. All in all, my IBS is MUCH better controlled.


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