Intermittent Fasting for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does Fasting Cure IBS?

Intermittent Fasting for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does Fasting Cure IBS?

Are you part of that 15% of the world’s population who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome? Even though IBS does not lead to long-term harm to your intestines, living with it does significantly impact your daily life. There is no doubt intermittent fasting (IF) can improve one’s health, but is intermittent fasting good for IBS too? Can IF worsen IBS symptoms?

Let’s learn about the correlation between intermittent fasting and irritable bowel syndrome so you can decide for yourself if fasting holds the key to managing your IBS symptoms once and for all.

Does Intermittent Fasting Help with IBS Symptoms?

Fasting periods can help gastrointestinal motility, the capability of the gastrointestinal tract to move food, by diminishing bacterial overgrowth and overage of food fermentation that sets off IBS.

Intermittent fasting for IBS can:

  • Increase gut microbiota health: promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and a balanced gut environment.

  • Lower insulin levels: improved insulin sensitivity can lead to reduced inflammation.

  • Promote autophagy: the cell’s cleaning and renewal process may aid in diminishing cellular inflammation.

  • Provide the gut time to rest: periods of no-food intake lessen gut workload leading to less bloating and abdominal pain. Stay on track with your fasting schedule using the Fastic app, ensuring accurate timing with reminders around the clock.

A human study demonstrated that after one week of fasting, followed by 6 weeks of refeeding and probiotic supplementation, there was an increment of beneficial bacteria and an improvement in gut microbiota diversity. Besides potentially relieving IBS symptoms, IF has additional benefits, like weight loss, improved heart health, and enhanced energy levels. 

Can You Do Intermittent Fasting with IBS? 

Yes, intermittent fasting is safe for IBS. However, individual responses to fasting will vary, and disruption of eating patterns may not sit well with some individuals. On the other hand, practicing IF can work wonders for people with IBS by improving symptoms and gut health. Talk to your doctor to determine if intermittent fasting suits your specific condition.

Maximizing the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting with IBS

Here are some suggestions to make your fasting plan smooth sailing on your body.

  • Start slowly: gradually introduce IF into your daily routine to help your body understand and adjust to the dietary changes.

  • Avoid FODMAP foods: abstain from eating fermentable short-chain carbohydrates the small intestine has difficulty digesting. Aim for a low-FODMAP diet to prevent irritation.

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule: maintain a consistent sleep schedule and get at least 7 hours of sleep.

  • Gentle exercise: engaging in low to moderate-intensity exercise for short periods can boost fasting effects and energy.

  • Consistent schedule: establish a regular and strict fasting schedule to support your body’s adjustment.

  • Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water during fasting and eating periods to promote good intestinal functioning.

Can Intermittent Fasting Cure IBS?

You might have heard someone say, “fasting cured my IBS”, what they meant is that it helped control it. While IF can treat IBS, intermittent fasting can not cure IBS. Intermittent fasting is good for IBS because it can aid in ameliorating bloating, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal discomfort. Longer fasting times between meals give the intestine time to rest, reducing the frequency of negative reactions. 

A recent study performed on individuals with IBS resistant to pharmacotherapy showed promising results when submitted to fasting therapy (FT), compared to standard therapy (pharmacotherapy and brief psychotherapy). The FT consisted of 10 days of fasting and 5 days of refeeding. In the study, 36 patients underwent fasting therapy, while 22 underwent standard therapy. Individuals who underwent the fasting therapy greatly improved 7 out of 10 IBS symptoms:

  • abdominal pain

  • distension

  • diarrhea

  • anorexia

  • nausea

  • anxiety

  • interference with daily life

Where pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy only improved 3 of the symptoms:

  • abdominal pain

  • distension

  • interference with life

intermittent fasting for ibs

How to Do Intermittent Fasting for IBS?

There is no best intermittent fasting plan for IBS. Everybody will react differently to every fasting regimen. However, there are some preferred fasting approaches if you have IBS. Go for fasting regimens with long eating windows to prevent worsening IBS symptoms. 

Here are some recommended intermittent fasting plans for IBS with longer eating periods:

Instead of rushing one large meal during a short eating window, a longer eating window will allow you to spread 5 to 6 meals and snacks throughout the day. By doing so, your digestive tract is not over-stimulated by a single overloaded meal. In a study, female participants who consumed three meals per day showed a 32% lower likelihood of presenting IBS symptoms compared to those who consumed only one meal. 

The following is an intermittent fasting schedule for IBS following the 16:8 fast.

  • 10:00AM: breakfast

  • 12:00PM: snack 

  • 1:00PM: snack (optional)

  • 2:00PM: snack

  • 4:00PM: early dinner

  • 5:00PM: snack 

  • 6:00PM: fasting begins

Tip: Write down your body’s reactions after starting an intermittent fasting plan. Monitoring your IBS symptoms will help determine which IF approach works better. 

Minimizing the Risks of Intermittent Fasting on IBS

  • Maintain a balanced diet: ensure a nutrient-dense and varied diet. Keep track of your daily meals, and nutrient and calorie intake with the Fastic app

  • Professional medical guidance: reaching out to your doctor is advised. They will know which intermittent fasting plan is best for your particular IBS condition or if IF is not ideal for you.

  • Individual variability: there will be different responses depending on the overall person’s background, IBS symptoms, fasting plan, etc.

  • Nutritional considerations: adequate nutrition is paramount in a fasting diet. Individuals with dietary restrictions or malabsorption issues may be at risk of nutrient deficiencies escalating IBS symptoms.

Tip: Consider consulting a dietitian to meet your nutritional needs according to your IBS symptoms, they will know better what what to avoid.

Does Intermittent Fasting Cause IBS?

No, intermittent fasting does not cause IBS. Nonetheless, consult with your healthcare professional for better guidance on whether IF is the right option for your particular IBS.

Can Intermittent Fasting Make IBS Worse?

It depends. The body’s response to an intermittent fasting plan will vary due to various factors, such as individual IBS symptoms, fasting plan, diet, exercise routine, etc. Opting for fasting plans with short eating windows is not recommended for individuals with IBS. 

Fasting regimens, like the 20:4 fasting plan, entail eating large amounts of food within a short time, which can be hard to handle due to the heaviness of the meals. Eating too much, too quickly may irritate the upper gastrointestinal tract and aggravate IBS symptoms, including disrupted bowel habits, increased stress levels, and constipation. 

So, is intermittent fasting bad for IBS? Potentially, it may aggravate IBS symptoms due to the irregular eating schedule by impacting gut motility and instigating gastrointestinal discomfort. Additionally, the lack of food during fasting periods may trigger or intensify IBS symptoms and cause nausea, acid reflux, and cramping.

Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting may improve IBS symptoms as it may also worsen them. Fasting is not for everyone, whether you have IBS or not, your body may or may not work well with it. The good news is you won’t know until you try. Download the Fastic app now and discover in what ways intermittent fasting can benefit your IBS symptoms.

Disclaimer: It is advised to speak with a health professional before beginning intermittent fasting or a diet program. There may be side effects for people with certain medical conditions.

With Fastic, millions of people have achieved their desired weight, overcome disease and regained their quality of life.

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