Is juicing or liquid meal replacements good for IBS?

There is a plethora of information on the internet on how to improve IBS or even how to ‘cure’ IBS (if you see the word ‘cure’ you should be very skeptical – we have no cure unfortunately at this moment in time.) Despite the fact that we have no cure, we do have treatments that work to reduce or eliminate symptoms – one of these is the low fodmap diet. It is a really progressive time with research into IBS increasing knowledge and slowly improving access to services in the NHS – good reasons to be positive. What about the social media information on following a ‘juicing’ diet or liquid meal replacements for IBS – is this likely to help? The juicing hype is likely on the wane through concerns about the sugar content of juices but it is the fodmap sugars that these products contain that is the issue for many people with IBS. It could be argued that food that is chewed well and mixed with digestive juices is in-fact liquid – so why not drink liquids to reduce digestion and ease symptoms?

The answer is juicing is unlikely to help, it is neither a suitable option long term or an option that will reduce digestion processes within the digestive tract. Digestion continues despite what you consume and having liquids is not necessarily ‘easier’ on your digestive tract. If symptom improvement is reported by people it might be that the person was not chewing thoroughly to begin with. Not chewing your food can mean that excessive air is swallowed leading to bloating. Drinking your meals is not really a great idea, for other reasons. Drinking your meals can impact on the amount of fermentable carbohydrates that are consumed – juicing can mean that more of these FODMAPs can be consumed, as you are more likely to to have a larger portion in a drink, than if you consume the ingredients whole. Also dietitians advocate eating behaviour for people with IBS is an important consideration – juicing all meals is not sustainable in the long term and what happens when you break this regimen and return to old habits? Dairy free manufactured juices and shakes are often based on Soya, which is limited to 60 ml on the Low Fodmap diet – so again this can cause symptoms if consumed in excess of this amount. Testimonials are very convincing – but again, time to employ your skeptic radar, is this testimonial written by someone with something to gain from promoting a product or diet lifestyle? Many companies now employ bloggers to write posts from ‘their experience’ but they are often paid for blogging about a product and are therefore biased in their opinions.

There is another hidden issue with juicing for IBS – another promoting benefit of juicing is that it promotes fast consumption, which has always been a bad idea with IBS. Savour your food and chew your food well don’t ‘eat – or drink – on the go’.

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I am a state registered dietitian. My speciality is dietary treatment of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, lactose & fructose malabsorption and multiple food intolerances. I have had lots of experience in other areas of dietetics and I wished to start this blog to spread the word about evidence based dietary treatments and dispel much of the quackery that is common with these diseases. All information on this site is of a general nature and is based on UK based treatments and guidelines. Please see your healthcare practitioner should you need more country specific information.

4 thoughts on “Is juicing or liquid meal replacements good for IBS?

  1. Hi Jules.
    You make some interesting points especially regarding the sugars and servings. As a fructose malabsorper I’m careful around fruit. Would the occasional mixed juice using safe fruit be an issue? I’ve also just thought about cocktails!

    1. Hi Lynn thanks for your question. I cannot really comment on individual circumstances as everyone is slightly different in their tolerance of fodmap sugars. However the general advice of limiting the portion size to no more than 100ml (half a small glass) should be adequate and may allow for mixed juice with lower fructose containing fruits might be helpful. Yes – when having drinks remember the mixers and also some premixed drinks that can have fructose over the amount tolerated, too. I hope this helps. Best wishes

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