According to the American College of Gastroenterology, around 12% of the American population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, yet only about 6% of the cases are diagnosed.
That happens because this health condition is chronic, and the symptoms may vary from mild (which people consider as something temporary and don’t check with their doctor) to severe. The most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel movement changes
- Feeling full
- Mucus discharge
- Other 
Even though IBS is not a health-threatening condition and does not negatively impact other body systems, it can be a major factor in decreasing your quality of life, especially for people who experience strong symptoms.  And despite the fact that there is no cure for irritable bowel syndrome, there are various ways you can improve your condition and minimize the symptoms!
An efficient way to do so is to adopt a low-FODMAP diet, which focuses on excluding certain foods from your meals. A thorough study about the effect of this diet on IBS symptoms shows that low-FODMAP, compared to traditional IBS diet and medium to high consumption of FODMAP foods, significantly decreases the severity of certain symptoms: abdominal pain, bloating, and stool consistency. It helps to reduce the intestinal water content, balance fermentation processes in the colon, and diminish gas production.
But what are the exact foods, which this promising diet excludes? Let’s find out!
First, FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols.  Or in understandable language, those are carbs, which are based on fructose, fructans, GOS (types of prebiotics), polyols, and lactose. These foods are poorly absorbed by the small intestine, yet quickly fermented by gut bacteria, causing pain, change of stool consistency, and gas. 
So avoiding the following main categories of foods will indeed improve your IBS symptoms:
Foods in this category include fruits that have high fructose content, including apples, pears, watermelon, peaches, mangoes, ripe bananas, cherries, dates, plums, pomegranates, raisins, and more.
On the positive side, you can still enjoy blueberries, citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, unripe bananas, and kiwi!
If you follow a low-FODMAP diet, you should avoid not only natural fructose-containing sweeteners like honey, agave, and maple syrup, but also low-calorie and low-glycemic sweeteners like maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol, and others.
In this case, using stevia, sucralose, and sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth without worsening your IBS symptoms. 
Learn more about the different types of sugar substitutes!
Even though legumes efficiently keep your microbiota balanced, people suffering from IBS find that those foods worsen their symptoms, as they contain prebiotics (GOS). So avoiding chickpeas, lentils, beans, and soy is crucial if you follow a low-FODMAP diet.
However, you can try consuming small portions of canned legumes, as they are better tolerated by the body than dried foods. Or, in the best case, you can substitute those for whole grains like brown rice, oats, quinoa, or wheat-free bread (keep in mind that wheat also should be avoided). 
Including lots of vegetables in your meals is essential when it comes to maintaining your health and supplying your body cells with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nonetheless, certain types of vegetables can become your enemy if you have IBS. For that reason, it’s key to avoid broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and beetroot.
Even though IBS is not the same as lactose-intolerance, lactose can irritate the already sensitive bowels of people suffering from IBS.  For that reason, milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods containing lactose should be excluded from your diet.
Instead, try the lactose-free versions of your favorite types of milk and cheeses! You also have another great option- kefir! Even though it’s made from milk, this beverage is 99% lactose-free due to the special fermentation process it passes through.