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300+ best & worst foods for IBS

IBS foods
Food is one of the most common triggers for IBS - especially FODMAP foods. Discover over 300 of the best and worst foods for IBS in our guide. Learn more.

If you experience IBS, steering clear of these trigger foods may make it easier to manage your symptoms.

Food is one common trigger for digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

And while we all understand the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet, when you’re trying to avoid causing an IBS flare-up, managing to eat a diet full of essential nutrients can be a struggle.

Also, avoiding high FODMAP foods is the cornerstone of some of the most common IBS diets.

But is it really worth cutting out those fermentable carbohydrates and following a low-FODMAP diet?

To help, we’ve put together the following list of IBS-triggering foods that don’t belong on your plate – plus over 200 foods that do.

What is IBS?

IBS is a common health condition that affects the large intestine. Also known as the colon, this is the section of the gastrointestinal tract where three important parts of the digestion process happen.The three main functions of the large intestine: 

  • Absorb water and electrolytes
  • Produce and absorb vitamins
  • Form faeces from waste and move them to the rectum where they’re passed as stools

A variety of reactions in the large intestine can trigger IBS symptoms. There’s not a single cause. It could be because food passes through your gut too quickly. Or too slowly.

Perhaps the nerves in your gut are oversensitive? Maybe stress is upsetting the balance? Or is it something genetic that you’ve inherited? And not only is there a wide range of causes, but the symptoms can also be equally inconsistent.

How do I know if I have IBS?

Although there’s plentiful evidence online to allow you to educate yourself on IBS symptoms, always seek a professional, medical diagnosis. This can often take time.

The condition is typically only formally diagnosed at the point when all other possibilities are ruled out.

Symptoms of IBS

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

However, in addition to these main IBS symptoms, there are other complaints that are also associated with IBS.

For example, flatulence, nausea, back ache, incontinence, problems urinating and tiredness.2

Types of IBS

There are three varieties of IBS:

  • IBS-C – Constipation dominant
  • IBS-D – Diarrhoea dominant (IBS-D)
  • IBS-M – Mixed bowel habits (constipation and diarrhoea)3

Your IBS symptoms depend on the type you suffer with.

Which foods trigger IBS attacks?

In many cases, high FODMAP foods are to blame for IBS symptoms. So, it makes sense to cut them out, right?

But whilst there’s growing evidence to show restricting these foods can drastically improve IBS symptoms, it takes serious commitment.

What are FODMAPS?

What are FODMAPS? FODMAPs are a collection of carbohydrates that contribute to IBS symptoms like gas, bloating and stomach pains. To spell this out:

Fermentable 
Oligosaccharides
Disaccharides
Monosaccharides
Polyols4 

Summary: FODMAP is an anagram for carbohydrates that could cause/worsen IBS symptoms

Why choose a FODMAP diet for IBS?

Some (but not all) carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. As a result, they move further through the gut and ferment in the large intestine.

In people with IBS, this can trigger symptoms such as bloating, constipation, wind, diarrhoea, stomach pain and flatulence.5

The guiding theory of a low FODMAP IBS diet is to replace high FODMAP foods that are poorly digested with low FODMAP foods that easily break down in the stomach.

This decreases the fermentation of sugars in the large intestine. Consequently, this can reduce bloating, constipation and other IBS symptoms.

However, IBS sufferers aren’t all sensitive to the same high FODMAP foods. To help reduce IBS symptoms, a dietitian may recommend you eliminate high FODMAP foods for a short period.

They are then gradually reintroduced in phases to identify which exact foods you are most sensitive to. It can also show which are better tolerated.

Summary

  • It has been proven that some carbohydrates (FODMAPs) can trigger IBS
  • The FODMAP diet can help you distinguish which cause your symptoms and which are ‘safe’

113 foods to avoid with IBS

Here is a comprehensive list of high FODMAP foods which you should avoid/reduce if you want to follow this diet (especially in the first reduction stage).6

High-FODMAP vegetables/legumes

Excess gas-causing vegetables and legumes such as onions, broccoli, beans and lentils should be avoided. Also, it’s worth being aware that spicy food packed with chilli pepper might also trigger symptoms.

High-FODMAP veggies

  1. Garlic (including garlic salt, garlic powder) – should be avoided entirely if possible 
  2. Onions (including onion powder) – should be avoided entirely possible 
  3. Artichoke 
  4. Asparagus 
  5. Baked beans 
  6. Beetroot 
  7. Broad beans 
  8. Butter beans 
  9. Cassava 
  10. Cauliflower 
  11. Celery 
  12. Falafel 
  13. Pickled / fermented vegetables, e.g. sauerkraut 
  14. Kidney beans 
  15. Mangetout 
  16. Mung beans 
  17. Mushrooms
  18. Kidney beans 
  19. Cabbage 
  20. Soybeans 
  21. Spring onions
 

High-FODMAP fruit

Although a lot of fruit is full of fibre, certain types have been known to trigger IBS symptoms:


  1. Apples 
  2. Apricots 
  3. Avocado 
  4. Bananas (ripe) 
  5. Blackberries 
  6. Blackcurrants 
  7. Cherries 
  8. Currants 
  9. Dates
  10. Figs 
  11. Goji berries 
  12. Grapefruit (over 80g) 
  13. Guava (unripe) 
  14. Lychee 
  15. Mango 
  16. Nectarines 
  17. Peaches 
  18. Pears 
  19. Pineapple 
  20. Plums 
  21. Pomegranate 
  22. Prunes 
  23. Raisins (over 1 tbsp) 
  24. Sultanas 
  25. Tined fruit in pear / apple juice 
  26. Watermelon
 

High-FODMAP meat

Red meat like beef, lamb and pork may upset IBS symptoms.
  1. Chorizo 
  2. Sausages 
  3. Beef 
  4. Lamb 
  5. Pork
 

High-FODMAP cereals, grains and nuts

  1. Wheat (and products containing it, e.g. biscuits, bread, noodles) 
  2. Almond flour/meal 
  3. Amaranth flour 
  4. Barley 
  5. Bread 
  6. Carob flour/powder 
  7. Cashews 
  8. Chestnut flour 
  9. Couscous
  10. Einkorn flour 
  11. Freekeh 
  12. Gnocchi 
  13. Granola 
  14. Muesli 
  15. Pistachios 
  16. Rye 
  17. Semolina 
  18. Spelt flour
 

High-FODMAP sweeteners, condiments, spreads, etc.

Polyols like sorbitol, mannitol or xylitol can cause diarrhoea.7 They are often found in low calorie, artificially sweetened products like chewing gum, sugar free mints and flavoured water.
  1. Agave nectar 
  2. Fructose 
  3. Gravy (if it contains onion) 
  4. High fructose corn syrup 
  5. Hummus 
  6. Honey 
  7. Jam 
  8. Molasses 
  9. Pesto 
  10. Stock cubes 
  11. Vegetable pickle 
  12. Most sugar-free sweets 
  13. Sweeteners (inulin, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol) 
  14. Tzatziki dip
 

High-FODMAP drinks

Alcohol can cause stomach irritation which can lead to diarrhoea.8 Limit yourself to drinking less than two units a day, no more than 5 days a week. Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and energy drinks.9 This is because caffeine can trigger colonic spasms, constipation or diarrhoea. Also, fizzy drinks cause bloating and wind.10 
  1. Beer (more than one bottle) 
  2. Apple and raspberry cordial (50-100% real juice) 
  3. Orange cordial (20-50% red juice) 
  4. Fruit / herbal tea with apple 
  5. Apple, pear or mango fruit juice 
  6. Orange juice (if over 100ml) 
  7. Fruit juices (any in high quantities) 
  8. Kombucha 
  9. Meal replacement shakes containing milk 
  10. Rum 
  11. Fizzy drinks with high fructose corn syrup 
  12. Soy milk 
  13. Sports drinks 
  14. Tea (if strong or with added soy milk) 
  15. Wine (more than 1 glass) 
  16. Whey protein (unless lactose free)
 

High-FODMAP dairy foods

Dairy products containing lactose often cause bloating, diarrhoea and discomfort. 
  1. Buttermilk 
  2. Ricotta cheese 
  3. Cream 
  4. Custard 
  5. Gelato 
  6. Ice cream 
  7. Kefir 
  8. Cow’s milk 
  9. Goat’s milk 
  10. Evaporated milk 
  11. Sheep’s milk 
  12. Sour cream 
  13. Yoghurt 
Summary: As you can see, there are a lot of foods to be aware of if you want to go low-FODMAP
 

277 best foods for IBS

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are also lots of foods that are perfectly fine to eat while following a low-FODMAP diet.11 

Low FODMAP foods 

Here are some of the most common ‘safe’ foods and the quantities you should limit certain foods too.

Low-FODMAP vegetables/legumes

  1. Alfalfa 
  2. Bamboo shoots 
  3. Beansprouts 
  4. Beetroot 
  5. Black beans (45g) 
  6. Bok choy / pak choi 
  7. Broccoli (35g) 
  8. Brussels sprouts (2 sprouts) 
  9. Butternut squash (35g) 
  10. Cabbage (70g) 
  11. Callaloo 
  12. Carrots 
  13. Celeriac 
  14. Celery (less than 5cm of stalk) 
  15. Chicory leaves 
  16. Chickpeas (42g) Chili – if tolerable 
  17. Chives 
  18. Collard greens 
  19. Corn (1/2 cob) 
  20. Courgette (65g) 
  21. Cucumber 
  22. Aubergine (80g) 
  23. Fennel 
  24. Green beans 
  25. Green pepper (75g) 
  26. Ginger 
  27. Kale 
  28. Lentils (in small amounts) 
  29. Lettuce 
  30. Marrow 
  31. Okra 
  32. Olives 
  33. Parsnip 
  34. Snow peas (5 pods) 
  35. Pickled gherkins 
  36. Large pickled onions 
  37. Potato 
  38. Pumpkin 
  39. Radish Red peppers 
  40. Spring onions (the green part) 
  41. Seaweed 
  42. Chard 
  43. Baby spinach 
  44. Squash 
  45. Sun-dried tomatoes (4 pieces) 
  46. Swede
  47. Swiss chard 
  48. Sweet potato (65g) 
  49. Tomato (1 small / 1/4 a can) 
  50. Turnip (1/2 a turnip) 
  51. Water chestnuts 
  52. Zucchini
 

Low-FODMAP fruit

  1. Ackee 
  2. Unripe bananas (1 medium) 
  3. Blueberries (45g) 
  4. Cantaloupe melon (120g) 
  5. Cranberry (1tbsp) 
  6. Clementine 
  7. Coconut cream (75g) 
  8. Coconut flesh (50g) 
  9. Dragon fruit 
  10. Lingonberries 
  11. Grapes 
  12. Guava 
  13. Honeydew / Galia melons (80g) 
  14. Kiwifruit (2 small) 
  15. Lemon (including juice) 
  16. Lime (including juice 
  17. Mandarin
  18. Orange 
  19. Passion fruit 
  20. Papaya 
  21. Pineapple 
  22. Plantain 
  23. Prickly pear 
  24. Raspberry (30 berries) 
  25. Rhubarb
  26. Strawberry 
  27. Tamarind
 

Low-FODMAP meat/meat substitutes

  1. Beef 
  2. Chicken 
  3. Chorizo 
  4. Foie gras 
  5. Kangaroo 
  6. Lamb
  7. Pork 
  8. Prosciutto 
  9. Quorn 
  10. Turkey 
  11. Cold cuts, e.g. ham, turkey breast 
  12. Processed meat (check ingredients)
 

Low-FODMAP fish/seafood

  1. Canned tuna 
  2. Fresh cod 
  3. Fresh haddock 
  4. Fresh plaice 
  5. Fresh 
  6. Salmon 
  7. Fresh trout 
  8. Fresh tuna 
  9. Plain crab 
  10. Plain lobster 
  11. Plain mussels 
  12. Plain oysters 
  13. Plain prawns 
  14. Plain shrimp
 

Low-FODMAP cereals, grains and nuts

  1. Wheat free bread 
  2. Gluten-free bread 
  3. Corn bread 
  4. Rice bread 
  5. Spelt sourdough bread 
  6. Potato flour bread 
  7. Wheat- / Gluten-free pasta 
  8. Wheat bread (1 slice) 
  9. Almonds (10 almonds) 
  10. Cream crackers (4 crackers) 
  11. Oatcakes (4 cakes) 
  12. Shortbread biscuit (1 biscuit) 
  13. Brazil nuts Bulgur (44g cooked serving) 
  14. Buckwheat 
  15. Brown / wholegrain rice 
  16. Chestnuts 
  17. Plain potato crisps 
  18. Cornflour / maize Cornflakes (14g) 
  19. Gluten-free cornflakes 
  20. Corn tortillas (3 tortillas) 
  21. Crackers Flaxseed / linseed (1tbsp) 
  22. Hazelnuts (10 hazelnuts) 
  23. Macadamia nuts 
  24. Millet 
  25. Mixed nuts 
  26. Oats Peanuts 
  27. Pecans (10 halves) 
  28. Pine nuts 
  29. Polenta 
  30. Popcorn 
  31. Porridge / oat-based cereals
  32. Potato flour 
  33. Pretzels 
  34. Quinoa 
  35. Pasta (100g cooked) 
  36. Rice 
  37. Rice cakes 
  38. Rice flour 
  39. Chia seeds 
  40. Hemp seeds 
  41. Poppy seeds 
  42. Pumpkin seeds 
  43. Sesame seeds 
  44. Sunflower seeds 
  45. Tortilla chips 
  46. Walnuts
 

Low-FODMAP sweeteners, condiments, spreads, etc.

  1. Aspartame 
  2. Acesulfame K 
  3. Almond butter 
  4. Barbeque sauce 
  5. Capers in vinegar
  6. Dark chocolate (5 squares) 
  7. Milk chocolate (4 squares) 
  8. White chocolate (3 squares) 
  9. Chutney (1tbsp) 
  10. Dijon mustard 
  11. Fish sauce 
  12. Golden syrup (1 tsp) 
  13. Glucose 
  14. Glycerol 
  15. Strawberry jam 
  16. Raspberry jam (2 tbsp) 
  17. Maple syrup 
  18. Marmalade 
  19. Marmite 
  20. Mayonnaise (no garlic / onion ingredients) 
  21. Miso paste 
  22. Mustard 
  23. Oyster sauce 
  24. Pesto sauce (less than 1 tbsp) 
  25. Peanut butter 
  26. Rice malt syrup 
  27. Saccharine 
  28. Shrimp paste 
  29. Soy sauce 
  30. Sriracha hot chili sauce (1 tsp) 
  31. Stevia 
  32. Sweet and sour sauce 
  33. Sucralose 
  34. Sugar Tahini pate 
  35. Tomato sauce / ketchup (2 sachets) 
  36. Vegemite Apple cider vinegar (2 tbsp) 
  37. Balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp) 
  38. Rice wine vinegar 
  39. Wasabi 
  40. Worcestershire sauce (the onion and garlic content is acceptably low, making it low-FODMAP)
 

Low-FODMAP drinks

  1. Beer (1 drink) 
  2. Vodka (limited intake advised) 
  3. Gin (limited intake advised) 
  4. Whiskey (limited intake advised) 
  5. Wine (1 drink) 
  6. Coffee (without milk or up to 250ml lactose free milk) 
  7. Coconut milk (125ml) 
  8. Coconut water (100ml) 
  9. Drinking chocolate powder 
  10. Fruit juice (low-FOSMAP fruits only, 125ml) 
  11. Lemonade (low quantities) 
  12. Egg protein powder 
  13. Rice protein powder 
  14. Whey protein isolate powder 
  15. Soya milk made with soy protein 
  16. Sugar free soft drinks (low quantities) 
  17. Black tea 
  18. Chia tea 
  19. Fruit and herbal tea (no apple added) 
  20. Green tea 
  21. Peppermint tea 
  22. White tea Water
 

Low-FODMAP dairy foods, eggs and alternatives

  1. Butter 
  2. Brie 
  3. Camembert 
  4. Cheddar 
  5. Cottage cheese (2 tbsp) 
  6. Cream cheese (2 tbsp) 
  7. Feta 
  8. Goat 
  9. Halloumi (40g) 
  10. Monterey jack 
  11. Mozzarella 
  12. Paneer (2 tbsp) 
  13. Parmesan 
  14. Ricotta (2 tbsp) 
  15. Swiss cheese 
  16. Eggs 
  17. Margarine 
  18. Almond milk 
  19. Hemp milks (125ml) 
  20. Lactose-free milk) 
  21. Macadamia milk 
  22. Oar milk (30ml) 
  23. Rice milk 
  24. Sorbet 
  25. Soy protein (avoid soy beans) 
  26. Tempeh
  27. Tofu (drained and firm varieties) 
  28. Whipped cream 
  29. Coconut yoghurt 
  30. Greek yoghurt (23g) 
  31. Lactose-free yoghurt 
  32. Goat’s yoghurt
 

Low-FODMAP herbs, spices and cooking ingredients

  1. Most herbs and spices (avoid chili, garlic, onion) 
  2. Avocado oil 
  3. Canola oil 
  4. Coconut oil 
  5. Olive oil 
  6. Peanut oil 
  7. Rice bran oil 
  8. Sesame oil 
  9. Soybean oil 
  10. Sunflower oil 
  11. Vegetable oil 
  12. Acai powder 
  13. Baking powder 
  14. Baking soda 
  15. Cacao powder 
  16. Cocoa powder 
  17. Gelatine 
  18. Ghee (1tbsp) 
  19. Icing sugar 
  20. Lard 
  21. Mango powder (1tsp) 
  22. Nutritional yeast 
  23. Salt 
  24. Soybean oil 
Summary Thankfully, there are a lot of ‘safe’ low-FODMAP foods around, which may be worth implementing into your diet to see if you experience a difference
 

How to start a low-FODMAP diet

A low-FODMAP diet is not quite as simple as cutting out all high-FODMAP foods and focusing on low-FODMAP foods. It usually involves the following three stages: 
  • Restriction This stage usually lasts a few weeks and requires strict avoidance of high-FODMAP foods. Once you find adequate relief of IBS symptoms then you can move onto the next stage. 
  • Re-introducing foods This next step requires reintroducing high-FODMAP foods to see which type and amount of high-FODMAP foods are affecting you the most. It is recommended that you reintroduce foods one at a time – and it is recommended that you use a dietician to help guide you through this process. 
  • Making it work for you This stage allows you to know which FODMAP foods you need to restrict, and which ones are actually fine to consume. For example, you may be fine eating a piece of wheat bread every day but may want to avoid cauliflower all the time. As you can see, a low FODMAP diet is a significant dietary intervention. And unless you have diagnosed IBS and have exhausted all other IBS diet options, it can do more harm than good.

If you don’t want to be so strict…

The lists of high- and low-FODMAP foods below show how complex and restricted a low FODMAP diet can be. Just to reiterate, a low FODMAP diet isn’t for everyone. But that’s not to say you can’t take inspiration from some of the theory.

For example, keeping a food diary to track the severity of your symptoms against what you’ve consumed. Most of us can’t remember exactly what we eat on a day-to-day basis. This is why it can be helpful to write it down. This visibility allows you to recognise patterns between your diet and IBS symptoms.

With this knowledge, you could then reduce or eliminate a food for a short period to see if it has an impact on symptoms. This is a simple but effective way to, see how an individual food may be causing your digestive problems.
How to start a food diary for IBS 
  1. Write down everything you eat daily, the time you ate it, and the severity and time of your IBS symptoms on the same day.
  2. If you recognise a pattern where eating a certain food seems to regularly coincide with a rise in your digestion problems, consider eliminating this from your diet for a few weeks.
  3. During this elimination period, continue to keep a food diary and track your symptoms.
  4. After this period, gradually reintroduce the food and record any changes in your symptoms.
  5. Repeat with other foods if necessary.

It’s always recommended that any changes to diet are done in consultation with your GP or a dietitian.

Summary

  • There are several stages to a formal FODMAP diet, all of which help you to determine which foods are a problem for you
  • It is recommended that you consult a trained dietician for help with this
  • Keeping a food diary can also help you find out which foods you may need to avoid

Before you consider a low FODMAP IBS diet

Following a low FODMAP IBS diet is not a decision to take lightly.

Only attempt it if:

  • Your IBS is formally diagnosed by your GP
  • You’ve tried other less restrictive diet strategies already (e.g. increasing your fibre intake and probiotics)
  • You’re recommended this diet by a FODMAP trained dietitian. Don’t attempt it alone – you need ongoing professional nutrition advice and support to implement this diet plan effectively

This final point is particularly important.

If this is a diet change you would like to initiate, careful implementation is crucial.

A FODMAP trained dietitian can assess if it’s appropriate for your IBS symptoms and also ensure what you’re eating continues to be nutritionally sufficient.

This is not an allergy diet

Eliminating high FODMAP foods isn’t a long-term solution.

This is where IBS diets can differ from allergy diets.

It’s important to recognise, IBS is not caused by a food allergy. It has nothing to do with your immune system.

Whereas diets for food allergies and intolerances often involve permanent exclusion of an allergen, this is not usually required in IBS diets.

For example, after the initial elimination period in a FODMAP diet, most IBS sufferers can start to tolerate small to moderate quantities of high FODMAP foods.

Consider that food may not be causing your IBS

Remember, diet is only one cause of IBS. If lifestyle factors, such as stress, are the trigger of your IBS symptoms, making behavioural changes could be more valuable.
In addition, if you suffer from food anxiety of any form, or have other underlying health conditions, it’s particularly important to seek medical guidance before pursuing an IBS diet.

Summary
  • A low-FODMAP diet is a big commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly
  • Increasing your fibre and probiotics could help your IBS before going for a FODMAP diet
  • Eliminating FODMAP foods isn’t a long-term solution, as different people can tolerate different types/amounts of FODMAP foods
  • Keep in mind that food may not be causing your IBS, as it can also be linked to stress, food anxiety and other underlying health conditions

Can probiotics help IBS?

The gut contains trillions of bacteria. This diverse collection of microbes forms your gut microbiome, which helps to break down food and regulates bowel function.

The large intestine is home to 95% of the gut microbiome.

In people with IBS, symptoms may trigger when there is some kind of imbalance between helpful, good bacteria and the other not so friendly species.

This could manifest itself in the symptoms above.12

So, regaining balance is key to a healthy digestive system and for relieving IBS symptoms. 

Probiotics help by topping up the level of good bacteria in the gut, which muffles the impact of the more hostile varieties.

How can I get good bacteria?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. You’ll find them in certain types of food and in supplements.

Foods containing friendly bacteria in food

You can find probiotics naturally in a number of foods.

For example, eating cultured dairy products and fermented foods can help to ensure your friendly bacteria levels remain topped up.

Look out for yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, natto, miso, and kombucha.

But there is one thing you need to be sure of – the probiotic bacteria must be alive when you eat it. Some food processes, such as pasteurisation kill live bacteria.

So, it’s important that yoghurts are ‘live’ or contain ‘active’ ingredients. Choose unpasteurised sauerkraut and select fermented pickles rather than ones soaked in vinegar.

Probiotic supplements

Friendly bacteria supplements are a useful alternative if eating fermented foods doesn’t appeal. 

There are a huge range of probiotic products available and the impact they have on IBS symptoms varies considerably. Here are two things to look out for:

  1. What bacteria does the product contain? Two commonly studied friendly bacteria strains that may help with the reduction of IBS symptoms are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium13,14,15
  2. Will the bacteria reach your gut? To get to the large intestine, a probiotic must survive the acidic environment of the stomach. Buying from a reputable source is strongly advised16

The final say

  • FODMAPS are different groups of carbohydrates which may affect/worsen IBS symptoms
  • A low-FODMAP diet is sometimes recommended to help determine which FODMAP foods affect you
  • FODMAP diets can be very restrictive and should not be viewed as a long-term solution
  • If you have been diagnosed with IBS and want to try a FODMAP diet, it is recommended that you consult a registered dietician to help
  • Research suggests increasing the consumption of good bacteria can help to bring balance to the variety of microbes in the gut. This can aid the function of the large intestine and reduce IBS symptoms. As a result, if consumed in the right quality and dosage, probiotics can reduce bloating, cramping and constipation for those with diagnosed IBS.
  • When changing your diet, take gradual steps with small changes at a time so you’ll be able to identify exactly what’s aggravating your symptoms.

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