Effects of Low FODMAP Diet on Symptoms, Fecal Microbiome, and Markers of Inflammation in Patients With Quiescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease in a Randomized Trial

Gastroenterology. 2020 Jan;158(1):176-188.e7. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.09.024. Epub 2019 Oct 2.


Background & aims: There is limited evidence that a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) reduces gut symptoms in quiescent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We performed a randomized, controlled trial to investigate the effects of a low FODMAP diet on persistent gut symptoms, the intestinal microbiome, and circulating markers of inflammation in patients with quiescent IBD.

Methods: We performed a single-blind trial of 52 patients with quiescent Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and persistent gut symptoms at 2 large gastroenterology clinics in the United Kingdom. Patients were randomly assigned to groups that followed a diet low in FODMAPs (n = 27) or a control diet (n = 25), with dietary advice, for 4 weeks. Gut symptoms and health-related quality of life were measured using validated questionnaires. Stool and blood samples were collected at baseline and end of trial. We assessed fecal microbiome composition and function using shotgun metagenomic sequencing and phenotypes of T cells in blood using flow cytometry.

Results: A higher proportion of patients reported adequate relief of gut symptoms following the low FODMAP diet (14/27, 52%) than the control diet (4/25, 16%, P=.007). Patients had a greater reduction in irritable bowel syndrome severity scores following the low FODMAP diet (mean reduction of 67; standard error, 78) than the control diet (mean reduction of 34; standard error, 50), although this difference was not statistically significant (P = .075). Following the low FODMAP diet, patients had higher health-related quality of life scores (81.9 ± 1.2) than patients on the control diet (78.3 ± 1.2, P = .042). A targeted analysis revealed that in stool samples collected at the end of the study period, patients on the low FODMAP diet had significantly lower abundance of Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii than patients on control diet. However, microbiome diversity and markers of inflammation did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions: In a trial of the low FODMAP diet vs a control diet in patients with quiescent IBD, we found no significant difference after 4 weeks in change in irritable bowel syndrome severity scores, but significant improvements in specific symptom scores and numbers reporting adequate symptom relief. The low FODMAP diet reduced fecal abundance of microbes believed to regulate the immune response, compared with the control diet, but had no significant effect on markers of inflammation. We conclude that a 4-week diet low in FODMAPs is safe and effective for managing persistent gut symptoms in patients with quiescent IBD. www.isrctn.com no.: ISRCTN17061468.

Keywords: CD; HR-QOL; IBS; UC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted / adverse effects
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted / methods*
  • Disaccharides / adverse effects
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monosaccharides / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN17061468