In a new study, researchers found that a diet low in fermented carbohydrates has improved certain gut symptoms and improved health for sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The research was conducted by a team from King’s College London.
Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
At present, there is no cure for IBD, but symptoms are managed with a combination of anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating medication and surgery.
However, symptoms can persist during periods of disease remission even when they are receiving medication to control gut inflammation, and patients report these symptoms to have a large impact on their life.
The team carried out a study of a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) in patients with IBD, experiencing persistent gut symptoms despite gut inflammation being under control.
They studied 52 patients who suffer from IBD, and who had persistent gut symptoms despite no on-going gut inflammation, and allocated them to two groups:
one to a low FODMAP diet, restricting intakes of foods such as wheat, dairy, onions and garlic, and the other a controlled ‘normal’ FODMAP diet.
They found that a four-week low FODMAP diet improved certain gut symptoms such as swelling of the stomach and flatulence compared to those on a placebo diet.
Of the group that received the low FODMAP diet, 52% reported adequate relief of gut symptoms, had a greater reduction in gut symptom severity and had a higher health-related quality of life score.
While scientists know that the low FODMAP diet is effective in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this is the first randomized, trial showing that it’s effective in reducing common gut symptoms.
This improves health-related quality of life in patients with IBD when they are in remission.
The authors also found the low FODMAP diet reduces certain gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, that may be beneficial to health and may reduce inflammation.
Despite the changes in beneficial bacteria, gut inflammation did not appear to increase after the low FODMAP diet in patients with IBD.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Selina Cox from King’s College London.
The study is published in Gastroenterology.
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