IBS and Raw Vegetables

Crudite vegetable platter.
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I am frequently asked the question, "Does eating raw vegetables aggravate IBS?" Not necessarily a question that a PubMed search is going to shed any light on because no one is going to pay money to do a study to see if eating salads makes people with IBS feel worse. The only answer I can give is that lots of people tell me that they do!

Why might this be the case? My two theories:

1. Certainly uncooked vegetables require more work on the part on the digestive system.

It has to break down food components and deal with the fiber content of the produce without the benefit of heat to start the process for it.

2. It is possible that when one is eating salads or raw vegetables, one is simply eating a larger volume of produce, thus increasing gas and osmotic "load", along the lines of the FODMAPs diet theory.  

3. It is also possible that it isn't the "raw" that is the problem, but rather which vegetables one is choosing. Many vegetables fall on the "High FODMAP Food List."

I hope no one reading this thinks to themselves, "Okay, then, no more raw vegetables for me!" Every body is different and IBS is different in every person. Proponents of raw diets discuss the benefits of eating raw foods so as to benefit from the full array of enzymes in food and to reduce immune system reactivity during digestion.

I would thus recommend that you be a scientist - do raw vegetables cause a problem for you?

Is it just certain vegetables? You may find it helpful to use the FODMAPs list as a starting guide. You can click here to learn which vegetables are low in FODMAPs and thus very IBS-friendly...

If you would like to reap the benefits of raw vegetables, but are wary about the effects on your body, one option is to consider the use of juicing.

Although I am only making an educated guess, juicing may provide a more comfortable way to access the nutritional benefits of raw vegetables. You can get further information about juicing for IBS in the following article.

Of course, there is always the option of just cooking your veggies! Raw or not, vegetables are great for your digestive and overall health. Your "good guy" gut bacteria love veggies. Therefore, it is well worth trying out a wide variety of vegetables to see which ones your belly can tolerate and which ones make your IBS worse.

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