Is Chocolate OK for IBS? | CoachSweetTooth

Chocolate has been touted as a good choice for people with Irritable bowel syndrome, which has left many wondering, is chocolate ok for IBS? Let’s find out.

Chocolate is a complex food, which means that you need to know what you’re doing when using it to soothe an ailment, especially one as serious as IBS.

Chocolate has historically been considered one of the irritants for those with irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, patients with IBS must avoid it. Chocolate, whether in the form of candies or chocolate bars, contains lots of sugar, caffeine, and lactose that can irritate the bowels.

It is true that chocolate bars and candies could trigger IBS in some patients, which is why you need to know how chocolate affects the body in those who have IBS. Read on to find out more about IBS and chocolate.

As chocolate lovers, we can help answer your question of is chocolate ok for IBS or not. Here, we are going to take a closer look at chocolate and IBS.

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Chocolate and IBS

Foods rich in fat can cause symptoms, especially stomach discomfort, in persons who have functional gastrointestinal issues. The low FODMAP diet does not specifically call for limiting high-fat foods. Fat is a symptom trigger, and dietitians frequently recommend weight loss. For some people with IBS, just reducing the amount of high-fat foods they eat will help them feel better. It's not necessary to follow a low FODMAP diet for everyone, and other symptom sources should not be overlooked.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent gastrointestinal disorder that affects around one in every seven persons globally and is twice as frequent in women as in males. Constipation, diarrhea, discomfort, and gas are common IBS symptoms.

Chocolate typically ranks towards the top of the "no-go" list, just as other foods, such as bread and coffee, are commonly identified as probable IBS triggers. Gas, pain, bloating, and diarrhea are among sensations that many people associate with chocolate. Chocolate, especially chocolate with a lot of dairy in it, like milk chocolate, can include a lot of chemicals that are known to mess with your gut flora.

Why IBS Patients Should Not Eat Chocolate

Many IBS patients have underlying problems in the way their gut recognizes and reacts to food, bacteria, and other elements of the "luminal microenvironment," as we call it. The area inside the intestines and colon that is both "inside" and "outside" of our bodies is referred to as this.

Because the immune system and neurons in the wall of our GI tract interact with the luminal milieu, what we eat has a significant influence on how our gut functions and what symptoms we feel. With this knowledge in mind, the sugar, proteins, and fat in chocolate can have an effect on gastrointestinal function and feeling, causing symptoms in certain people.

Sugars in Chocolate and IBS

Sucrose is a sweetener made up of two sugar molecules: fructose and glucose. It's typically found in chocolate, especially milk chocolate. This component, on the other hand, is frequently linked to the onset or aggravation of IBS symptoms.

As everyone who has tried the FODMAP diet knows, there is plenty of evidence that sensitivity to poorly absorbed carbohydrates (sugars) like sorbitol, lactose, fructose, and other sugar alcohols is a big issue with IBS.

However, a 2019 study found that lowering starch and sucrose in IBS patients' diets improved not just gastrointestinal symptoms but also 'extraintestinal symptoms,' including fatigue and sweet cravings. In fact, after four weeks on a low-starch, low-sugar diet, about a third of the trial participants were no longer satisfied.

In fact, nearly one-third of the trial participants no longer met the Rome IV criteria for IBS after four weeks on a starch- and sucrose-reduced diet. If you're trying to cut back on sugar for the benefit of your stomach, keep in mind that "sugar-free" candies sometimes include sorbitol or sucralose, both of which have been linked to IBS symptoms.

Should You Eat Chocolate with IBS?

Chocolate has long been thought to be a possible cause of gastrointestinal symptoms such as discomfort, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This is due to the fact that chocolate, especially milk chocolate, contains a lot of sugar, as well as lactose, milk proteins, and fat, all of which can trigger symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.

This is especially true for people who are lactose intolerant or who suffer from IBS. However, a more recent study suggests that cocoa powder may help counteract the negative effects that regular chocolate can have.

According to preliminary research, cocoa may encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillacea. We need further investigation as gastroenterologists, but it appears that youngsters aren't the only creatures who enjoy chocolate.

It's crucial to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you, just like it is with any other frequent IBS trigger. While numerous important elements in chocolate have been linked to digestive issues, some people may find that smaller portions or dairy-free alternatives are more tolerable. Moderation is vital, as it is with most good things in life.

You may still eat modest amounts of potentially triggering foods without compromising your gut health, according to a Monash University study into FODMAPs, carbohydrates that are not entirely digested or absorbed in our intestines. While tiny amounts of this may be enough to reduce reactivity to chocolate FODMAPs — sucrose (monosaccharides) and lactose (disaccharides) — you may still discover that the fat or caffeine level is enough to disturb your digestion, especially if you are highly sensitive to these types of triggers.

Chocolate has a long history of being thought to have health-promoting properties as well. Many modern studies on cocoa, the dried bean that is used to produce chocolate, suggest that it has beneficial cardiovascular and neurological benefits. Flavanol molecules found in cocoa are likely to be responsible for these advantages. In particular, preliminary evidence shows that cocoa may have anti-inflammatory properties.

 While celebrations are a time for friends and family, it is also a time when chocolate sweets are easily overindulged. Sucrose, lactose, caffeine, and lipids are four primary elements in chocolate that might irritate your stomach. To minimize a possible flare-up, remember to eat chocolate in moderation: limit yourself to moderate doses and choose for dark chocolate wherever feasible.


Lori Gilmore

Lori Gilmore

Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.

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