Effect of dietary fiber on symptoms and rectosigmoid motility in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. A controlled, crossover study

Gastroenterology. 1990 Jan;98(1):66-72. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(90)91292-e.


The aims of this study were to determine (a) whether dietary fiber supplements modify symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, (b) the effect of fiber on rectosigmoid pressures, and (c) the relationship, if any, between rectosigmoid pressure and symptoms. Fourteen patients entered and 9 completed a double-blind, controlled, cross-over study of 7 mo duration. The mean age was 26 yr (range, 18-37). Patients received 4 cookies daily containing 20 mg corn fiber or placebo. Symptoms and compliance were evaluated monthly. Rectosigmoid pressures and dietary intake were evaluated at the outset and completion of each study arm. Symptoms improved during both fiber and placebo treatments. Those symptoms demonstrating significant improvement with time were pain severity, stool frequency, stool consistency (p = 0.001), number of additional gastrointestinal symptoms present (p = 0.02), and total symptom score (p less than 0.001). Rectosigmoid pressures were not significantly altered by fiber or placebo. Fasting pressures at the distal recording site tended to correlate with pain severity (r = 0.6; p = 0.06). It was concluded that (a) corn fiber and placebo were both effective in alleviating symptoms, (b) there was a correlation between symptom severity and fasting rectosigmoid pressure, and (c) there was a trend toward reduction in fasting and postprandial rectosigmoid pressures after fiber therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colon, Sigmoid / physiopathology*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / diet therapy*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / physiopathology
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pressure
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rectum / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors