Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, flatus, and altered bowel habits. The role of dietary components in inducing IBS symptoms is difficult to explore. To date, foods are not considered a cause but rather symptom-triggering factors. Particular interest has been given to the so-called FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols). We aimed to summarize the evidence from the most common approaches to manage suspected food intolerance in IBS, with a particular interest in the role of FODMAPs and the effects of a low FODMAP diet. We reviewed literature, consulting PubMed and Medline by using the search terms FODMAP(s), fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, polyols (sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, erythritol, polydextrose, and isomalt), irritable bowel syndrome, and functional gastrointestinal symptoms. FODMAP-restricted diets have been used for a long time to manage patients with IBS. The innovation in the so-called FODMAP concept is that a global restriction should have a more consistent effect than a limited one in preventing abdominal distension. Even though all the potential low FODMAP diets provide good relief of symptoms in many patients, there is just a little relief in others. Several studies highlight the role of low FODMAP diets to improve symptoms in patients with IBS. The evidence on this dietary approach supports the hypothesis that a low FODMAP diet should be the first dietary approach. However, many points remain to be clarified, including the evaluation of possibly significant nutrition concerns.
Keywords: FODMAP; diet therapy; disaccharides, monosaccharides; gastrointestinal diseases; irritable bowel syndrome; oligosaccharides.
© 2015 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.