A Low-FODMAP Diet Provides Benefits for Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms but Not for Improving Stool Consistency and Mucosal Inflammation in IBD: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2022 May 15;14(10):2072. doi: 10.3390/nu14102072.


Background: A low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols diet (LFD) is claimed to improve functional gastrointestinal symptoms (FGSs). However, the role of LFD in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients with FGSs remains unclear.

Objective: To systematically assess the efficacy of LFD in IBD patients with FGSs.

Methods: Six databases were searched from inception to 1 January 2022. Data were synthesized as the relative risk of symptoms improvement and normal stool consistency, mean difference of Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS), Short IBD Questionnaire (SIBDQ), IBS Quality of Life (IBS-QoL), Harvey-Bradshaw index (HBi), Mayo score, and fecal calprotectin (FC). Risk of bias was assessed based on study types. A funnel plot and Egger's test were used to analyze publication bias.

Results: This review screened and included nine eligible studies, including four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and five before-after studies, involving a total of 446 participants (351 patients with LFD vs. 95 controls). LFD alleviated overall FGSs (RR: 0.47, 95% CI: 0.33-0.66, p = 0.0000) and obtained higher SIBDQ scores (MD = 11.24, 95% CI 6.61 to 15.87, p = 0.0000) and lower HBi score of Crohn's disease (MD = -1.09, 95% CI -1.77 to -0.42, p = 0.002). However, there were no statistically significant differences in normal stool consistency, BSFS, IBS-QoL, Mayo score of ulcerative colitis, and FC. No publication bias was found.

Conclusions: LFD provides a benefit in FGSs and QoL but not for improving stool consistency and mucosal inflammation in IBD patients. Further well-designed RCTs are needed to develop the optimal LFD strategy for IBD.

Keywords: functional gastrointestinal symptoms; inflammatory bowel disease; low-FODMAP diet; meta-analysis; mucosal inflammation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome*
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex
  • Mucositis*
  • Quality of Life


  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex