Gut microbiota influences low fermentable substrate diet efficacy in children with irritable bowel syndrome

Gut Microbes. 2014 Mar-Apr;5(2):165-75. doi: 10.4161/gmic.27923. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


We sought to determine whether a low fermentable substrate diet (LFSD) decreases abdominal pain frequency in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and to identify potential microbial factors related to diet efficacy. Pain symptoms, stooling characteristics, breath hydrogen and methane, whole intestinal transit time, stool microbiome, and metabolite composition were collected and/or documented in eight children with IBS at baseline and during one week of an LFSD intervention. Pain frequency (P<0.05), pain severity (P<0.05), and pain-related interference with activities (P<0.05) decreased in the subjects while on the LFSD. Responders vs. non-responders: four children (50%) were identified as responders (> 50% decrease in abdominal pain frequency while on the LFSD). There were no differences between responders and non-responders with respect to hydrogen production, methane production, stooling characteristics, or gut transit time. Responders were characterized by increased pre-LFSD abundance of bacterial taxa belonging to the genera Sporobacter (P<0.05) and Subdoligranulum (P<0.02) and decreased abundance of taxa belonging to Bacteroides (P<0.05) relative to non-responders. In parallel, stool metabolites differed between responders and non-responders and were associated with differences in microbiome composition. These pilot study results suggest that an LFSD may be effective in decreasing GI symptoms in children with IBS. Microbial factors such as gut microbiome composition and stool metabolites while on the diet may relate to LFSD efficacy.

Keywords: FODMAPs; abdominal pain; irritable bowel syndrome; metabolites; microbiome; pediatric.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diet therapy
  • Abdominal Pain / microbiology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diet therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Methane / metabolism
  • Pilot Projects


  • Hydrogen
  • Methane