Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. The cause of IBS is unknown but several mechanisms have been proposed including visceral hypersensitivity, central sensitisation, abnormal gut motility and altered gut microbiota. IBS is challenging to manage and many patients report insufficient symptomatic relief from treatment. Approximately 60% of patients identify food as a trigger for their symptoms, and there has been interest in exclusion diets for managing IBS. Dietary adaptation is a common self-management strategy for patients with IBS, with many self-diagnosing intolerance to specific foods. This may lead to patients adopting over-restrictive or inappropriate diets. In recent years, a diet low in poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, known collectively as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols), has been advocated for the treatment of IBS. Here, we discuss the background to the FODMAP diet and review the evidence supporting its use for people with IBS.
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