Reduction of dietary poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs) improves abdominal symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel disease-a pilot study

J Crohns Colitis. 2009 Feb;3(1):8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2008.09.004. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


Objective: Functional gut symptoms are common in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Since poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs) appear to play an important role in the induction of functional gut symptoms, we aimed to determine the effect of their dietary restriction on abdominal symptoms in patients with stable IBD and to examine factors associated with success of and adherence to the diet.

Material and method: 52 consecutive patients with Crohn's disease and 20 with ulcerative colitis who received dietary advice at least 3 months prior at a gastrointestinal dietetic service in Victoria, Australia, underwent a retrospective telephone questionnaire. Information gathered included patient demographics, recall of dietary advice, dietary adherence, and change in gastrointestinal symptoms.

Results: Up to 70% of patients were adherent to the diet. Approximately one in two patients responded (defined as improvement of at least 5 out of 10 in overall symptoms). Overall abdominal symptoms, abdominal pain, bloating, wind and diarrhoea improved in patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (p<0.02 for all), but constipation did not. For Crohn's disease, efficacy was associated with dietary adherence (p= 0.033) and inefficacy with non-adherence (p=0.013). Sustained response was associated with post-secondary education and working 35 h per week or less (p<0.03).

Conclusions: These data suggest that reduction of FODMAP intake offers an efficacious strategy for patients with IBD who have concurrent functional gut symptoms. A controlled dietary intervention trial is indicated.