How Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help IBS?

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Key Takeaways

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive health condition related to inflammation in the gut.
  • An anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce inflammation in the gut to alleviate IBS symptoms or reduce the risk of developing the condition.
  • Working with a dietitian can help identify personal triggers and provide guidance on building a customized diet plan that works best for each individual.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal (GI) disorder characterized by irregular bowel habits, abdominal pain, and bloating. No single factor causes IBS (genetics, gender, brain-gut connection, and diet may all contribute), but inflammation plays a key role.

Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury or infection. It's how your body calls attention to damaged cells to trigger the healing process. If inflammation persists for too long, it can lead to chronic health conditions. In IBS, inflammation may play a role in the development of the condition and also be a consequence of it. 

As a result, an anti-inflammatory diet may be able to help manage IBS symptoms. Research suggests that eating certain foods—and avoiding others—can reduce inflammation and improve IBS symptoms. This article will share how an anti-inflammatory diet can help with IBS and what foods to include.

Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and accepts the most popular insurance carriers. If you're living with IBS, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating foods to help reduce inflammation in the body. It encourages foods containing nutrients like polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber that may address inflammation in the body. These foods include fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs, and spices. 

The most popular anti-inflammatory eating pattern is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet includes all of the above foods plus olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine in moderation. It's high in monounsaturated fats and fiber-rich plant-based foods, which studies show may help reduce inflammation in the body, 

Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help with IBS?

An anti-inflammatory diet may help with IBS symptoms and reduce the risk of developing IBS in the first place. Individuals with IBS may experience symptoms due to inflammation, and evidence indicates that people with IBS tend to have elevated markers of inflammation.

Some research also suggests a close relationship between the intake of inflammatory foods, as seen in the typical Western diet patterns (high in saturated fats and processed foods), and increased risk of IBS. Therefore an anti-inflammatory diet is thought to help reduce symptoms and improve overall gut health for people with IBS.

An anti-inflammatory diet may help with IBS by:

  • Neutralizing free radicals: Foods high in antioxidants may lower inflammation in the gut. Antioxidants remove free radicals that can cause inflammation and oxidative damage. Antioxidants from food may also help lower inflammation by activating cellular pathways that help lower the inflammatory response. 
  • Supporting beneficial bacteria: Anti-inflammatory diet patterns benefit healthy bacteria that are critical in managing inflammation in the gut. Studies link IBS to dysbiosis or an imbalance in gut bacteria. Anti-inflammatory diets provide fuel and nutrients that support beneficial bacteria while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. 
  • Increasing production of SCFAs: Fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenol-rich foods support the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFAs are fermentation products that help maintain the balance of gut bacteria and regulate inflammation in the gut. SCFAs are a source of energy for the cells of the large intestine, and they help protect the lining of the intestinal wall. Evidence suggests that SCFA levels are altered in patients with IBS.

How to Personalize an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Even anti-inflammatory diets need to be personalized to the individual. It's estimated that almost 90 percent of people with IBS link symptoms like pain or bloating with food intake, and food triggers can vary from person to person. This is why personalized elimination diets are important for gut conditions like IBS. 

What works for one person may not work for another—especially since there are different subtypes of IBS with varying symptoms. Low fiber or low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diets are often used to help with symptoms because these foods are often poorly absorbed by people with IBS, but they also temporarily remove many foods emphasized on an anti-inflammatory diet. 

The goal for any elimination diet is to slowly reintroduce as many foods as possible, but it can take time for symptoms to subside. In the meantime, even if a food is considered anti-inflammatory, it may not be right for you at that moment, but eventually, you may be able to tolerate it.

If you're struggling with identifying trigger foods, consider booking a virtual appointment with an RD. A registered dietitian can help you determine your diet triggers or sensitivities and create an individualized plan tailored to you and your symptoms. 

Anti-inflammatory Diet for IBS

You can use the following options to experiment and find which foods work best for your body. If you know one of the ingredients in the recipe causes symptoms, leave it out or substitute it with another food.

Portion sizes and calories depend on your individual needs, so you can adjust as needed.


  • Oatmeal or cream of rice with fresh berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon (stir in protein powder for added protein).
  • Smoothie bowl made with non-dairy milk, protein powder, banana, spinach, and ground flaxseed.
  • Scrambled eggs with sautéed kale and sweet potato hash.
  • Chia seed pudding with almond milk, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Whole grain (or gluten-free) toast with avocado, smoked salmon, and cucumber slices.
  • Greek yogurt with granola, chopped nuts, and fresh fruit.
  • Frittata with roasted vegetables and a side of mixed greens.


  • Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables, chickpeas, and a lemon-tahini dressing.
  • Sushi rolls made with brown rice, avocado, cucumber, and cooked salmon.
  • Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette
  • Baked sweet potato topped with black beans, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro.
  • Salmon or tuna poke bowl with brown rice, avocado, edamame, and sesame seeds.
  • Zucchini noodles with turkey meatballs and marinara sauce.
  • Lettuce wraps filled with ground turkey, shredded carrots, and sliced cucumbers.


  • Grilled salmon with roasted veggies and sweet potato wedges.
  • Brown rice pasta with tomato sauce, ground turkey, sautéed mushrooms, and spinach.
  • Roasted chicken with broccoli and buckwheat.
  • Stir-fry made with quinoa, snap peas, bell peppers, and shrimp.
  • Grilled turkey burger with lettuce, tomato, and sweet potato fries.
  • Vegetable fajitas made with grilled peppers and onions, black beans, and avocado served with corn tortillas.


  • Fresh fruit salad with a dollop of coconut cream.
  • Baked apples with cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • Dark chocolate squares with fresh berries.
  • Chia seed pudding with almond milk, vanilla extract, and sliced almonds.


  • Rice cakes with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Carrots and cucumbers with hummus.
  • Apple slices with almond butter and cinnamon.
  • Roasted chickpeas seasoned with paprika and cumin.
  • Mixed berries with a dollop of coconut yogurt.
  • Homemade popcorn seasoned with nutritional yeast and sea salt.
  • Turkey or beef jerky with raw veggies like celery and bell peppers.
  • Hard-boiled eggs with a sprinkle of black pepper and sea salt.


An anti-inflammatory diet can be an effective way to support IBS. Focusing on nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods that are easy to digest can reduce inflammation contributing to IBS. Combining the principles of an anti-inflammatory diet with other IBS nutrition therapy guidelines could be an effective strategy to help with symptoms.

Work with a Registered Dietitian to Manage Gut Health

Everyone responds differently to food, and personalization is critical for IBS. Working with an IBS dietitian can help you identify your triggers and build a personalized diet plan that works best for your body. Connect with an RD today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are best for IBS?

The best foods for IBS are personalized to your body. Depending on your symptoms, they may be easy to digest or include anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.

What are good snacks for IBS?

Good snacks for IBS include anti-inflammatory options like nut butter, fruits, or vegetables. Balancing your snack with protein, carbohydrates, and fat can help keep you satisfied between meals.

What makes food IBS-friendly?

Personalization is the most crucial aspect of an IBS-friendly diet since everyone's triggers and tolerance levels will differ. Working with a healthcare provider or dietitian to identify which foods work best for your body and build a personalized plan is essential.


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