Background: Based on their chemical extraction, dietary fibers are classified into crude fibers and total dietary fibers (TDF). TDF gives the best estimate of fiber content in the diet. Whereas data on intake of crude fibers are available, there is a lack of data on intake of TDF in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Aim: We assessed the TDF and its source in the diet of patients with IBS and healthy controls (HC).
Methods: Based on their predominant symptoms, 81 patients with IBS (according to Rome II criteria) were categorized into constipation-predominant (IBS-C, n=48), diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D, n=16) and mixed type (IBS-M, n=17). Information was collected on fiber supplementation and preference for high-fiber food. A pretested, open-ended, semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire was used to collect dietary information on food groups and TDF. Age- and sex-matched healthy individuals (n=89) were recruited as HC. The mean (SD) age of patients and HC was 36.5 (11.4) years (59 men), and 36 (12) years (62 men), respectively.
Results: Thirty-nine patients (48%) were taking medicinal fiber supplements, of which 28 patients were taking supplements daily (2.10 [0.84] teaspoon full). The mean daily TDF intake was 51.7 (23.1) g vs. 52.3 (21.6) g for patients and HC, respectively (p=0.8). The intake of TDF was similar in patients having less (n=41) or more (n=40) preference for fiber-rich foods (55  g vs. 47  g, p=0.16). The daily mean cereal intake in patients was significantly lower than that in HC (322 g vs. 404 g, p=0.001). However, consumption of fruits (150 g vs. 80 g, p=0.001) and vegetables (348 g vs. 219 g, p=0.006) was higher in patients in comparison with HC. There was a positive correlation between TDF with cereals (p=0.001), pulses (p=0.001), vegetables and fruits (p=0.033) in patients with IBS but only with cereals (p=0.001) in HC.
Conclusion: The intake of TDF in patients with IBS and HC is much higher than the dietary recommendation for healthy Indians. Patients with IBS consumed more fruits and vegetables rather than cereals as compared with HC.