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In this study, 30 Australian adults with IBS and 8 healthy people were randomly assigned for 21 days to a typical Australian diet (the control) or a diet low in specific carbohydrates, including collectively known as FODMAPs, fermentable:
The participants then switched groups and repeated the process. The low-FODMAPs diet consisted of less than 0.5 grams of FODMAPS per meal. Participants' meals and snacks were all prepared for them and their symptoms were assessed.
Compared with IBS participants on the control diet, gastrointestinal symptom scores were about 50% lower (indicating less severe symptoms) in IBS participants on the low-FODMAPs diet, with significant easing of symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain.
The study authors comment, “These results support the notion that the low-FODMAP diet has efficacy in the vast majority of patients with IBS,” and they recommend its use among first-line therapies for IBS sufferers.
We know that dietary patterns matter for people with IBS, and clinicians typically recommend that people with IBS limit foods that irritate their symptoms, increase fiber intake, and keep a food and symptom diary to better understand what makes them feel better or worse. This study and other prior research have shown that a low-FODMAPs diet may help some sufferers.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” IBS treatment but research and clinical observations have shown that working with a person’s diet is one of the most important steps toward finding relief. In this study, all meals were prepared for the participants. The authors point out that in real life people may benefit from working with a dietician or other trained healthcare professional to learn how to follow a special diet. People with IBS should speak with a knowledgeable doctor who can discuss treatment options and various dietary strategies that may ease symptoms.