Diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as traditional dietary advice: a randomized controlled trial

Gastroenterology. 2015 Nov;149(6):1399-1407.e2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.07.054. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


Background & aims: A diet with reduced content of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols [FODMAPs]) has been reported to be effective in the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, there is no evidence of its superiority to traditional dietary advice for these patients. We compared the effects of a diet low in FODMAPs with traditional dietary advice in a randomized controlled trial of patients with IBS.

Methods: We performed a multi-center, parallel, single-blind study of 75 patients who met Rome III criteria for IBS and were enrolled at gastroenterology outpatient clinics in Sweden. Subjects were randomly assigned to groups that ate specific diets for 4 weeks-a diet low in FODMAPs (n = 38) or a diet frequently recommended for patients with IBS (ie, a regular meal pattern; avoidance of large meals; and reduced intake of fat, insoluble fibers, caffeine, and gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage, and onions), with greater emphasis on how and when to eat rather than on what foods to ingest (n = 37). Symptom severity was assessed using the IBS Symptom Severity Scale, and patients completed a 4-day food diary before and at the end of the intervention.

Results: A total of 67 patients completed the dietary intervention (33 completed the diet low in FODMAPs, 34 completed the traditional IBS diet). The severity of IBS symptoms was reduced in both groups during the intervention (P < .0001 in both groups before vs at the end of the 4-week diet), without a significant difference between the groups (P = .62). At the end of the 4-week diet period, 19 patients (50%) in the low-FODMAP group had reductions in IBS severity scores ≥50 compared with baseline vs 17 patients (46%) in the traditional IBS diet group (P = .72). Food diaries demonstrated good adherence to the dietary advice.

Conclusions: A diet low in FODMAPs reduces IBS symptoms as well as traditional IBS dietary advice. Combining elements from these 2 strategies might further reduce symptoms of IBS. ID NCT02107625.

Keywords: Carbohydrates; Colon; Food; Gastrointestinal Symptoms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet / methods*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Disaccharides / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Fermentation*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diet therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monosaccharides / adverse effects
  • Oligosaccharides / adverse effects
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Polymers / adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polymers
  • polyol

Associated data