­Low FODMAP Diet Improves Quality of Life in IBS Patients

Adhering to a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet significantly improves the quality of life for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a new study.

It is generally understood that diet plays a large role in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for patients with IBS and other gastrointestinal tract conditions. The researchers conducted this study to understand how a low FODMAP diet would impact HRQOL, psychological distress, work productivity, and sleep quality in patients with IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D).

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To perform their prospective, single center, single-blind, randomized, controlled trial, the researchers followed the cases of  83 adults with IBS-D in the United States who had a mean daily abdominal pain score of 4 or more and a Bristol stool scale score of 5 or more.

Patients were randomly assigned to a 4-week low FODMAP diet or a control diet based on modified National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines.

The researchers measured HRQOL using the IBS-QOL questionnaire, psychological distress using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and work productivity using the Workplace Activity Impairment questionnaire at baseline and after dietary intervention. Fatigue and sleep quality were assessed daily.

Symptom severity, HRQOL measures, energy levels, and nutrient and FODMAP intake were similar between the groups at baseline.

After 4 weeks, 58% of patients in the low FODMAP group had a more than 10-point improvement in their IBS-QOL scores, whereas only 24% of those in the control group showed similar improvements. Patients in the low FODMAP group also had improved scores in activity impairment (29.29) and sleep quality (6.33) compared with patients in the control group (41.90 and 7.46, respectively).

“In this US randomized, controlled study of IBS-D patients, a low FODMAP diet improved HRQOL, activity impairment, and sleep quality when compared to a control diet,” the researchers concluded. “This is one of the first methodologically rigorous clinical trials to show that diet-based therapy can not only improve symptoms but also HRQOL in patients with IBS-D.”

—Amanda Balbi


Eswaran SL, Chey WD, Jackson K, Pillai SG, Chey SW, Han-Markey T. A low FODMAP diet improves quality of life, reduces activity impairment, and improves sleep quality in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea: results from a United States randomized, controlled trial. Paper presented at: Digestive Disease Week 2016; May 24, 2016; San Diego, CA. http://www.ddw.org/program/online-planner. Accessed May 26, 2016.