Sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome often question the relationship between tomatoes and IBS. This is because tomatoes may trigger IBS symptoms even though they are low-FODMAP. Thankfully, you can still enjoy tomatoes if you have IBS by following some simple guidelines.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Large intestine problems are frequently caused by irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive condition. When the gut and brain do not communicate effectively, the digestive tract may become sensitive, which may result in unpleasant symptoms.
IBS is thought to affect between 25 and 45 million people in the United States alone, with women being more susceptible to the condition than men. IBS is not a serious illness, but it can still have an impact on a person's quality of life.
Changing one's diet and way of life can help manage IBS. For anyone with IBS, learning the right foods to eat and identifying food triggers is critical for managing their symptoms. The prognosis for IBS is typically optimistic over the long term if a person follows the advised dietary and lifestyle changes.
Introducing a Low-FODMAP Diet
After receiving an IBS diagnosis, finding the correct dietary balance can at first be challenging. Patients frequently receive vague instructions about adhering to a low-FODMAP diet from their doctor (FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that, in some people, can result in unpleasant gut symptoms).
When learning about the low FODMAP diet for the first time, it's beneficial to look out for the terms "FODMAP Friendly" and "Monash University," since these are the primary sources of excellent FODMAP information. More information on these two valuable resources and how they can benefit your diet can be found later in this article.
"A low-FODMAP diet is recommended for managing patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)"
Tomatoes and IBS
Tomatoes are ripe and sweet, loaded with antioxidants, and may help prevent several diseases. The plant compound lycopene, which has been linked to better heart health, cancer prevention, and sunburn protection, is particularly abundant in them. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate.
So tomatoes are a healthy fruit, but what about the connection between tomatoes and IBS?
Tomatoes are a fantastic food to include in your diet if you have IBS for several reasons. They are generally well tolerated and low in FODMAPs. They are nutrient-rich, versatile, and can be consumed in a variety of ways, including fresh, canned, as a sauce, or in soup.
It may sound easy to eat tomatoes when you have IBS, but it's not. If you have IBS and experience unpleasant digestive symptoms after eating them, you need to specifically address how you are incorporating them into your diet.
The amount being consumed, the fact that not all tomatoes are the same, and the other foods or ingredients being consumed at the same time are a few things to consider.
How to Eat Tomatoes With IBS
Because tomatoes are low-FODMAP foods, eating them can still be a smart idea even if you have IBS. However, only if you are eating a sensible amount. It's not always true that a food's low FODMAP content represents how much of it your digestive system can tolerate. It's possible that your body can only withstand a few grape tomatoes or two slices of ripe tomatoes per day before you begin to experience symptoms of IBS.
As a guideline, ibsdiets.org suggests the following maximum serving amounts for tomatoes and tomato products:
- Sun-dried tomatoes, 4 pieces
- Tomato sauce (outside the USA): 2 sachets, 13 g
- Canned tomatoes, 3/5 cup
- Tomato, common; 1 small
- Tomato, 5 cherries
- Tomatillo, fresh; 1 cup
- Tomatillos, canned (75 g)
Start slowly and consume tomato products in small amounts to gauge your body's response. Record your portion sizes in a journal so you can look back and see what worked and what didn't. Always include tomato products like paste and soups in your calculations since they are also classified as tomatoes.
Remember: Not All Tomatoes Are the Same
Remember that there are over 10,000 tomato varieties, and only a handful of them have been lab-tested by trusted sources like Monash University and FODMAP Friendly. What you're eating likely differs even more from those. If you are fortunate enough to find exceptionally fresh heirloom varieties, by all means, try them, but be aware that they probably haven't been FODMAP-lab tested.
Look for Hidden High-Fodmap Foods
Even though you think you're eating low-FODMAP tomato sauce, it may contain a sneaky high-FODMAP food that will worsen your IBS symptoms. The most common ones to watch out for are added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and garlic and onions, which can be found in sauces like marinara, pizza sauce, and premade soups. Where possible, try to make your own tomato-based soups, stews, and pizza sauces at home, paired with other low-FODMAP ingredients that you can tolerate.
How to Make Low FODMAP Tomato Soup
Overall, tomatoes are a fantastic source of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. Given that tomatoes are low in FODMAPs, tomatoes and IBS can be expected to have a positive relationship. Tomatoes are a favorite in a variety of dishes and can be a healthy addition to any IBS-friendly diet you follow.
There are a few things to be aware of when eating tomatoes: portion size; the fact that not all tomato varieties have been tested for FODMAPs; and any concurrent consumption of foods or ingredients that may be high in FODMAP, like garlic and onions. Starting small, being mindful, and monitoring your symptoms is the most effective way to ascertain whether tomatoes are causing IBS symptoms.
FODMAP Lists and Resources
- FODMAP Food List | IBS Diets
A comprehensive list for FODMAP friendly and unfriendly foods. Find the right foods that can be eaten on the FODMAP diet as well as helpful information.
- Monash University & The Low FODMAP Diet - FODMAP Everyday
Monash University developed the low FODMAP diet for IBS. They are "ground zero" for all things low FODMAP. Learn about Monash's certifications, resources & tools.
- FODMAP Friendly & The Low FODMAP Diet - FODMAP Everyday
Learn how to thrive while following the Low FODMAP diet! 1000+ delicious low FODMAP recipes, health & wellness support from Monash trained Success Team Registered Dietitians, access to free downloads for shopping lists and more.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2023 Louise Fiolek