Individual diets for IBS

Many of us will know about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a disorder that can cause chronic abdominal pain, gas, diarrhoea and constipation, but did you know that one in five adults meet the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome?

Although many patients with IBS are trying diets based on blood tests that claim to identify foods that trigger their symptoms, the majority of these food intolerance tests have not been validated by rigorous study, say researchers.

Individual diets better than placebo for IBS

However, patients with irritable bowel syndrome who follow individualised diets based on food sensitivity testing, experience fewer symptoms, say Yale researchers. The study is among the first to provide scientific evidence for this medication free approach, to a debilitating condition.

The Yale team conducted a double-blind, randomized clinical trial of 58 patients with IBS. For each individual, the researchers collected blood samples and used a specific test that measures immune cell activation in response to individual foods. The study participants were then put on individualised diets that either restricted foods consistent with test results or restricted foods inconsistent with test results.

After several weeks on the individualised diets, participants were assessed for IBS symptoms and quality of life. The research team found that while both sets of participants experienced improvement, the individuals on diets consistent with test results fared much better overall and in terms of symptom severity.

‘The people who consumed the diet consistent with the test did significantly better than people on the placebo diet.’

The two groups of participants reported no notable difference in terms of quality of life. But at four and eight weeks after starting the diets, the restricted diet group achieved significant improvement in symptoms such as abdominal pain and swelling, amongst others.

These findings lay the groundwork for further study. If these test results can be replicated in larger and more diverse samples, they can provide insight into another way to treat a condition that can often be very frustrating and debilitating.

Source: Yale News Sept 20, 2017

11 Jul, 2018

4 thoughts on “Individual diets for IBS

  1. I can well understand why individual diets can benefit IBS sufferers. It makes sense that one size doesn’t fit all and any diet should be tailor made to an individual to try and alleviate particular symptoms.

    A friend has IBS and he knows which foods trigger his symptoms and sensibly he avoids them and is generally able to manage the condition well and on a day to day basis, doesn’t have any problems.

    1. Thank you. Yes, you’re right. It’s knowing which foods trigger our symptoms and staying away from those.

      I do think we have to be more vigilant around food and have the willpower to say no to potential trigger foods. My grandfather used to eat trigger foods such as chocolate cake and tomatoes and yet he struggled with symptoms on both.

      But sometimes it’s not easy to work trigger foods out, particularly when we tend to eat foods together, or when dealing with stress. Stress is know to bring IBS in through the back door.

  2. For this very reason, my body has developed reflexes and instincts to avoid certain foods. That given, I try really hard to eat foods that naturally treat various deficiencies in the body, but I’m not always disciplined in doing that.

    I guess I’m an old structure with bad habits.

    Very informative blog Ilana!

    1. Thanks Tim. I’m a little bit like you, but with added complications because I have dealt with reflux for many years and continue to deal with digestion issues now.

      What I try to do is take out the foods that I know are harming me. But that’s not easy, primarily because there are too many foods that don’t agree and it’s not always easy to replace those with new foods.

      Then there is the question of stress. How much of our food and digestion problems are down to stress, and how much is down to the food that we eat? Even if we were to do the elimination diet, we still have stress.

      To be honest I think our lifestyles and how our food is produced also contribute to problems with irritable bowel.

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