Nutrient intake in patients with irritable bowel syndrome compared with the general population

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2013 Jan;25(1):23-30.e1. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12001. Epub 2012 Sep 2.


Background: Food and diet are central issues that concern patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Few studies have thoroughly analyzed dietary intake in IBS. Our aims were to determine the nutrient intake in IBS patients in comparison to the general population, assess nutritional differences between IBS subgroups based on the predominant bowel habit or symptom severity, as well as to evaluate if their nutrient intake meet nutrition recommendations.

Methods: We included 187 IBS patients (mean 40.2 years; 139 women). They completed a 4-days food registration record, which was compared with an age-, and gender-matched control group (n = 374; 278 women) from a nation-wide dietary survey and with Nordic Nutrient Recommendations.

Key results: Daily nutrient intake in IBS patients was similar to the general population and met national nutrients recommendations. Irritable bowel syndrome patients had similar energy distribution from macronutrients compared to the control group, but the protein percentage tended to be higher. Irritable bowel syndrome patients also had significantly higher daily intake of vitamin E, folate, iron, vitamin C, and dietary fibers, as well as lower intake of vitamin A, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium. There was no association between nutrient intake and IBS subtypes or symptom severity.

Conclusions & inferences: Although many IBS patients state that they avoid food items, this does not seem to influence their intake of nutrients to any large extent. The observed minor differences in nutrient intake indicate a tendency toward higher intake of fruit and vegetables and a lower intake of meat and dairy products in IBS patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet Records
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged