Top 10 IBD Myths Debunked

by | Jun 5, 2023 | IBD | 0 comments

Have you ever scrolled the internet to learn more about IBD to find yourself wondering how so many people can be saying different things? How does someone know if this information is true or false? How do you know it will work for you? Today’s blog topic highlights the top 10 IBD myths The Crohn’s & Colitis Dietitians hear and the truth behind them.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is a complicated disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Microscopic Colitis are specific subsets of IBD that each have similarities and differences.  They all share a similar disease process in that IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and nutrition deficiencies. 

Let’s dive in! Here are the top 10 IBD Myths Debunked!

Top 10 IBD Myths Debunked

Myth #10. IBS is the same as IBD

The Truth: Although both gastrointestinal disorders share similar symptoms, they are both very different. IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome and IBD stands for inflammatory bowel disease and are far from being the same thing. See the chart below for key differences and similarities:

IBD Commonalities IBS
  • Inflammation can occur in any part of the digestive tract
  • Surgery may be required
  • Altered blood work can be seen in fecal calprotectin, CRP
  • Anemia, blood in stool, weight loss, and fever may occur
  • Managed through medications like steroids, biologics, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes
  • Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Gut microbiome imbalance
  • More than 40% of those with IBD experience IBS symptoms.
  • Gut-brain disorder
  • No inflammation occurs in IBS
  • No surgery is required
  • Managed through dietary and lifestyle factors, and sometimes Rifaximin

Myth #9. My blood work is fine, so I don’t need to do my stool test. 

The truth: It’s great that your blood work checked out fine! However, to get a FULL picture of your disease, it’s recommended to dive into all options possible to assess disease activity. The stool test, or fecal calprotectin test, directly measures the inflammation in the digestive tract and is highly recommended to be completed if your doctor has requested it. To learn more about tests recommended to check in on your IBD, as well as specific nutrients that get low in IBD, take a look at our blog here.

Myth #8. IBD is my Fault.

The truth: IBD is a complex disease and there are many factors that may contribute to it including a genetic component that we have no control over. Be gentle on yourself. Blame and guilt is often felt, but if you feel negative thoughts wash over you, it is best to redirect and understand that these feelings can have a negative impact on our mental health and overall well-being. IBD is NOT your fault.

Myth #7. The “insert fad diet here” will cure my IBD. 

The truth: Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBD. However, there are many strategies in place to help with entering remission such as regular appointments with your doctor, appropriate medications, dietary changes, stress management, and more. If you would like to learn more about certain diets and IBD we have blog posts on the Carnivore Diet and Specific Carbohydrate Diet for you to learn more. 

Myth #6. If you have no symptoms, there is no inflammation.

The truth: There are people who experience no symptoms (or minor symptoms) and there could still be inflammation in the body.

The best thing to do to ensure inflammation is kept at bay is to stay up to date with your bloodwork, stool tests, and colonoscopies to properly assess and monitor IBD.

Myth #5. If you have symptoms, you are not in remission.

The truth: You can have symptoms and have no inflammation in the body. People sometimes approach this situation by taking things out of their diet to improve symptoms. This can lead to over restriction of food items that can be helpful in reducing inflammation and improving the disease state and quality of life in the long run.

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, we can help with that. We recommend doing small tweaks to food like blending, roasting, and sautéing to improve tolerance and expand the diet. 

Myth #4. All fiber is the same. 

The truth: There are both soluble and insoluble fibers that promote gut health.

Soluble fibre helps manage diarrhea and loose stools. It adds bulk to the stool by holding onto water in the intestines and turns into a gel hereby slowing the contents of our intestines down. Soluble fiber exists in foods like beans, tofu, oats, avocado, sweet potato, apples, citrus fruits, and psyllium. 

Insoluble fibre stays intact in the digestive tract and aids in relieving constipation. It does this by increasing water in the stool, making it softer to pass. You can also find insoluble fiber in wheat, leafy greens, cabbage, zucchini, and broccoli.

Both types of fiber can be utilized in one’s health to help relieve uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms.

Myth #3. Stress causes IBD.

The truth: Stress does not cause IBD but it has the potential to exacerbate symptoms. Long-term perceived stress (or chronic stress) is when stressors in your life last for weeks or months at a time. It has the potential to increase blood pressure, and also increase the likelihood of exacerbation of symptoms in those with ulcerative colitis (1).

Building stress resilience and working through (and being mindful) of negative thought patterns should be considered in IBD treatment. 

Myth #2. Eat low fiber for the rest of your life. 

The truth: Some individuals with IBD have difficulty digesting certain foods like raw vegetables and fruit, certain whole grains, etc. This does not have to be the case forever! Those who keep fiber in their diet are 40% less likely to flare (2). Which is one of the reasons why we work with people to enhance their diet. There are strategies we talk with clients about how to improve tolerance over time. Changing the particle size of your food by blending or pureeing as well as different cooking methods like sautéing and roasting can improve the digestibility of foods. 

Myth #1. Diet doesn’t matter. 

The truth: Diet can help play a role in the management of IBD. It can help amplify medications, increase chances of remission in the long run, help correct nutrient deficiencies, and create peace of mind around food. 

If you are struggling with what to eat for IBD, we have a 1 week gut friendly meal plan available here.

Key takeaways

There is a lot of misinformation online and we hope this myth busting blog was helpful in shining a light on the truth through our evidence-based approach. 

If you like to learn more about IBD without all the conflicting information online, sign up for our IBD Nutrition Library. It’s like Google for all your IBD-related questions, filtered by topics, and vetted by nutrition professionals. 

Click here to gain access to the IBD Library today!



  1. Levenstein, S., Prantera, C., Varvo, V., Scribano, M. L., Andreoli, A., Luzi, C., Arcà, M., Berto, E., Milite, G., & Marcheggiano, A. (2000). Stress and exacerbation in ulcerative colitis: A prospective study of patients enrolled in remission. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 95(5), 1213–1220.
  2. Brotherton CS, Martin CA, Long MD, Kappelman MD, Sandler RS. Avoidance of Fiber Is Associated With Greater Risk of Crohn’s Disease Flare in a 6-Month Period. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Aug;14(8):1130-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.12.029. Epub 2015 Dec 31. PMID: 26748217; PMCID: PMC4930425.


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