Avoiding Fermentable Carbohydrates and Following Traditional Diet Alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms

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The complexity of irritable bowel syndrome often leads to misunderstandings. It is a chronic condition characterized by symptoms like abdominal cramping, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. Treatment usually involves diet, medication, or both, with recent research suggesting that dietary interventions are more effective than medications in managing IBS.

Fermentable carbohydrates exacerbate IBS symptoms

Dietary recommendations for individuals with IBS advise smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding triggers such as alcohol and coffee. Medications may be prescribed to alleviate specific symptoms like constipation or bloating, including antidepressants in some cases.

A study conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, investigated treatments for adult patients with severe or moderate IBS symptoms. They compared three treatments: two dietary and one medication-based. One group received conventional dietary advice for IBS, focusing on changes in eating behavior and reducing intake of fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs), which are known to exacerbate symptoms such as pain and gas.

The study divided participants into three groups: one received traditional dietary advice for IBS, another followed a lower-carb, higher protein and fat diet, and the third group took medication tailored to their symptoms. Using an established IBS symptom scoring scale, researchers discovered that 76 percent of those who followed traditional dietary advice and consumed low-FODMAP foods experienced significant symptom reduction.

Traditional diet and low FODMAP reduces IBS symptoms

In one group, 71% experienced reduced symptoms compared to 58% in the medication group. All groups noted improved quality of life and reduced symptoms. After six months, those on dietary plans maintained symptom relief: 68% in low FODMAP and 60% in low-carb diet.

The study suggests that diet is pivotal in treating IBS, alongside other effective alternative treatments. Sanna Nybacka, a researcher and dietitian, emphasizes the need for further understanding to personalize IBS treatment effectively, exploring predictive factors for treatment response.

IBS treatment requires multiple approaches due to its variable nature and lack of a singular cause. Stress and bacterial infections can trigger symptoms. Adopting a low FODMAP diet often provides symptom relief if followed consistently. The study indicated that even partial adherence to dietary changes led to relief for many participants after six months.

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