Carb cutbacks do little to relieve irritable bowel syndrome: Report

carbs cutback to relieve ibsNew research suggests that there is minimal evidence to support that cutting out certain carbohydrates helps to relieve or ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a condition which can lead to discomfort, abdominal pain and changes to bowel habits. There is no exact cause currently, but common belief is that symptoms may ease by removing particular carbs from ones diet. This is known as the FODMAP diet.


Current treatment options for IBS include psychotherapy; drugs to curb spasms, diarrhea and constipation; and dietary and lifestyle changes.

Dietary guidelines include minimizing insoluble fiber, limiting fresh fruit, eating regular meals, eating slowly without rushing and avoiding artificial sweeteners.

The FODMAP diet (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols) was designed in Australia based on certain short chain carbs that are poorly absorbed, thus worsening symptoms of IBS.

Short chain carbs are seen in wheat, onions and legumes, milk, honey, apples, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Short chain carbs are rapidly absorbed into the gut, which leads to an increase in gases and water volume.

Researchers examined published evidence and guidelines in the U.K. on the management of IBS. Based on trials, some patients feel dietary changes do offer some relief from IBS symptoms.

Data to support the FODMAP diet, though, is limited and small scale. Additionally, dietary changes can cause individuals to not consume balanced meals as food items are excluded.

It is recommended that the FODMAP diet be used in individuals where other treatments have failed and the patient should be supervised by a doctor or dietician.

“However, we believe that patients should be advised that there is very limited evidence for its use, the ideal duration of treatment has not been assessed in a clinical trial, and its place in the management of IBS has not been fully established,” researchers wrote in the report.


IBS often affects women two times more often than men, and it is estimated that nearly one in every five persons has it. Treatment options are available and so it is best to speak with your doctor as to what will be the best course of action.

The findings were published in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (dtb).


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.