5 Questions About the Effect of Diet on IBS Symptoms

To relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), individuals are often recommended to eat more fiber, avoid gluten, or follow a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.1

However, diet and any changes in a person’s diet can impact the management of IBS in different ways.

Findings from a study presented at Nutrition 20192 by Rachel Adams, MS, RD, showed how a group of individuals with IBS related their symptoms to diet. Adams, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and her colleague K. Shane Broughton, PhD, MS, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas Woman’s University, evaluated responses to more than 150 questionnaires from individuals with self-reported IBS.

The surveys included questions on whether participants believed their diet influenced their symptoms of IBS, whether their doctor had recommended a specific diet, and whether they had been referred to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Gastroenterology Consultant caught up with Adams to talk about the role of diet in IBS.

Gastroenterology Consultant: Why is it important for a gastroenterologist to be educated on the role of diet in IBS?

Rachel Adams: Previous research has shown that a significant number of individuals with IBS who receive medication for their condition are not satisfied with their current treatment. Diet is easily accessible and an affordable treatment option for IBS symptoms. I would like to see more individuals with IBS pursue diet as a therapeutic option in a supervised and meaningful way. What we’ve seen in the literature, and also in our study, is that many patients with IBS try to manage their IBS with dietary changes on their own. We really want to determine how physicians and dietitians can work together to get the right information out to help patients.

GASTRO CON: In the study, only 21 individuals attempted the low-FODMAP diet. Were you surprised by this, given how common the low-FODMAP diet is?

RA: What was surprising to me was the number of patients that were already avoiding what would be considered high-FODMAP foods and were likely following a version of the low-FODMAP diet without even realizing it. The low-FODMAP diet has become increasingly popular; however, information available in terms of its accuracy and credibility is all over the board. Also, a lot of information found on the internet is old. People who are trying a diet might be trying a diet based on previous food lists that are no longer accurate. The most reliable and only actual up‑to‑date FODMAP food list is available through Monash University. For our study, the survey was part of an assessment for a separate clinical trial that investigated the efficacy of an internet‑based intervention of a 2‑week elimination phase followed by a 2‑week reintroduction of the low-FODMAP diet. A key component of that program was using the Monash FODMAP application.

 

 

Dietitian role, further research >>

 

To relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), individuals are often recommended to eat more fiber, avoid gluten, or follow a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.1

However, diet and any changes in a person’s diet can impact the management of IBS in different ways.

Findings from a study presented at Nutrition 20192 by Rachel Adams, MS, RD, showed how a group of individuals with IBS related their symptoms to diet. Adams, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and her colleague K. Shane Broughton, PhD, MS, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas Woman’s University, evaluated responses to more than 150 questionnaires from individuals with self-reported IBS.

The surveys included questions on whether participants believed their diet influenced their symptoms of IBS, whether their doctor had recommended a specific diet, and whether they had been referred to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Gastroenterology Consultant caught up with Adams to talk about the role of diet in IBS.

Gastroenterology Consultant: Why is it important for a gastroenterologist to be educated on the role of diet in IBS?

Rachel Adams: Previous research has shown that a significant number of individuals with IBS who receive medication for their condition are not satisfied with their current treatment. Diet is easily accessible and an affordable treatment option for IBS symptoms. I would like to see more individuals with IBS pursue diet as a therapeutic option in a supervised and meaningful way. What we’ve seen in the literature, and also in our study, is that many patients with IBS try to manage their IBS with dietary changes on their own. We really want to determine how physicians and dietitians can work together to get the right information out to help patients.

GASTRO CON: In the study, only 21 individuals attempted the low-FODMAP diet. Were you surprised by this, given how common the low-FODMAP diet is?

RA: What was surprising to me was the number of patients that were already avoiding what would be considered high-FODMAP foods and were likely following a version of the low-FODMAP diet without even realizing it. The low-FODMAP diet has become increasingly popular; however, information available in terms of its accuracy and credibility is all over the board. Also, a lot of information found on the internet is old. People who are trying a diet might be trying a diet based on previous food lists that are no longer accurate. The most reliable and only actual up‑to‑date FODMAP food list is available through Monash University. For our study, the survey was part of an assessment for a separate clinical trial that investigated the efficacy of an internet‑based intervention of a 2‑week elimination phase followed by a 2‑week reintroduction of the low-FODMAP diet. A key component of that program was using the Monash FODMAP application.

 

 

Dietitian role, further research >>