Irritable bowel syndrome: how can symptoms and quality of life be improved with diet?

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2019 Sep;22(5):377-382. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000589.


Purpose of review: This article aims to review the current scientific evidence of dietary approaches to control the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Recent findings: In the last decade, there was an important evolution in the study of the low fermentable oligo, di, mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diet (LFD). Current scientific evidence suggests a significant efficacy in the overall control of symptoms. LFD seems to be effective in improving quality of life. Recent studies suggest that LFD is effective and nutritionally well tolerated also in the long term, and longer adherence may contribute to greater effectiveness in improving depression. There is insufficient scientific evidence for the recommendation of gluten exclusion in IBS therapy, and some authors still suggest that the efficacy of this approach results from the limited ingestion of fructans. There is a promising efficacy of pre, pro, and symbiotic supplements, but there is no consensus on the most appropriate and effective strains in each case.

Summary: Given the poor evidence and the pathophysiological variability of IBS, the interest of each therapeutic option should be always evaluated individually. Nevertheless, LFD is currently the dietary approach with a higher degree of scientific evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Fermentation
  • Glutens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / diet therapy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Prebiotics
  • Quality of Life*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Polymers
  • Prebiotics
  • polyol
  • Glutens