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5 foods to avoid for patients with short bowel syndrome

5 foods to avoid for patients with short bowel syndrome

Short bowel syndrome refers to a condition that occurs when a major portion of a person’s small intestine has been removed. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients and water from the food one eats. Therefore, the removal of a major portion of it can significantly impact this absorption process. Consequently, people with short bowel syndrome need to change their food regimen. This includes avoiding certain foods, such as the following:

Foods with high sugar content
Sugar-rich foods can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This can cause one’s body to draw excess water into the bowels, leading to loose stools and frequent bowel movements. This further causes dehydration and loss of nutrients. Hence, patients with short bowel syndrome must avoid sugary foods such as candies, sweets, pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. They must also avoid sodas and sugary beverages, which often contain high fructose corn syrup.

Foods with high fiber content
Due to the reduction in the size of the small intestine, it gets harder for the body to absorb fibers, especially insoluble fiber. Hence, patients with short bowel syndrome must avoid foods with high amounts of fiber (particularly insoluble fiber). These include whole-grain products (like whole-wheat bread and bran products), legumes (like beans, lentils, and chickpeas), and certain vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.

High-oxalate foods
Patients who have their colon intact after the bowel surgery may need to stop consuming foods with oxalate. Oxalate is a compound found in certain foods that can lead to the formation of kidney stones, which is why it must be avoided. Certain food items that contain high amounts of oxalate include spinach, coffee, chocolates, soy, rhubarb, strawberries, kiwis, beets, etc.

Whole nuts and dried fruits
Whole nuts can be particularly difficult to digest. Moreover, they are also high in fiber as well as oxalate. So, it is best for patients with short bowel syndrome to avoid consuming whole nuts. Additionally, dried fruits are also high in fiber, oxalate, and natural sugars, so they are also best avoided.

Full-fat dairy products
The high fat content in full-fat dairy products can be difficult for patients with short bowel syndrome to digest. Additionally, the lactose in dairy can be hard to digest for some and can lead to bloating and diarrhea. Hence, they must limit their intake of full-fat dairy products or switch to skimmed milk and low-fat dairy products.