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Diet and irritable bowel syndrome

Thomas, Anushaa; Quigley, Eamonn M.M.a,b

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: March 2015 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 166–171
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000158
NUTRITION: Edited by Eamonn M.M. Quigley

Purpose of review Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have long reported the frequent precipitation of their symptoms in relation to food ingestion and have often been convinced that certain foods were especially problematic. However, until very recently, research on the responses to food or individual dietary constituents, in IBS, has been scarce. This review addresses recent literature on diet and IBS.

Recent findings The complexity of food–symptom interactions in IBS is being revealed in recent and ongoing research. Such studies have revealed the variable effects of fibre in IBS and the susceptibility of IBS individuals to the ingestion of poorly digested and absorbed carbohydrates. The latter has led to the widespread adoption of the low-fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) diet. Less certain is the role of another widely adopted dietary strategy, gluten restriction. Diet–microbe interactions are critical to the homeostasis of the gut microbiome in health and may well be disturbed in disease; enthusiasm continues, therefore, for the use of probiotics in IBS.

Summary Food is a common precipitant of symptoms in IBS and recent research has focused on the role(s) of individual dietary constituents in IBS and on fibre, FODMAPs, gluten and probiotics, in particular. Each may have a role in certain IBS sufferers.

aDepartment of Internal Medicine

bDivision of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College, Houston, Texas, USA

Correspondence to Eamonn M.M. Quigley, MD, FRCP, FACP, FACG, FRCPI, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Houston Methodist Hospital, 6550 Fannin St, SM 1001, Houston, TX 77030, USA. E-mail:

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