Australian researchers have found that low-FODMAP diets reduce symptom severity scores, abdominal pain, bloating and overall symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Low FODMAP diets, which were developed at Monash University, are low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides and monosaccharides and polyols.
Sugars that are reduced in the diet include fructose, fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose, sorbitol and mannitol.
The theory behind the approach is that these short-chain carbohydrates are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, leading to gas production and other effects.
The Australian meta-analysis study analysed results from 22 separate trials that measured either IBS symptom severity or IBS quality of life before and after the intervention.
The meta-analysis show a positive association between a low FODMAP diet and a decrease in IBS symptom severity. Similarly, there was an association between low FODMAP diet and increased quality of life for IBS sufferers.
The greatest improvement is in abdominal pain and abdominal bloating, with least improvement in constipation, the authors write.
Abdominal bloating occurs in 96% of people with IBS, say the researchers from the University of Sydney.
A low FODMAP diet is likely to be of benefit to the majority of IBS sufferers and potentially cause relief of the most problematic symptoms, they write.
Most of the research suggests the diet takes about seven days to take maximum effect, the authors say.