Cutting out carbohydrates in a variety of foods might be an answer to easing irritable bowel syndrome, according to a new Australian study.
The diet is similar to those often followed by people who want to control their diabetes by selecting their foods carefully. It involves reducing your intake of fermentable foods, such as wheat, onions, potatoes, pasta, and even milk.Read More »
The findings open the possibility of new treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, which affects as many as 15% of all people worldwide.
Trillions of Microbes
The study indicates that the composition of trillions of microbes in the digestive system might play a significant role in the development of the disease, researchers say. Scientists do not fully understand how this process works, however, how a low-carb diet is effective, or whether particular molecules or genes will identify those in whom irritable bowel disease will occur.
Samples Analyzed in Detail
In the study, researchers at Monash University in Melbourne Australia analyzed in detail the samples of stools from 56 people with irritable bowel syndrome and 56 people who lived with them but did not suffer from the syndrome. Their intention was to identify the genes and microbial profile involved in converting the food into active molecules while they were on their regular diets.
They sampled the stools again of 41 of the pairs involved in the study after they had been on the low FODMAP diet for four weeks.
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The researchers were able to identify the genes and microbial profile in converting food into molecules while on their usual diets.
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They found that the symptoms improved in three out of four of the patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The clinical response to the low FODMAP diet was greater for those with irritable bowel syndrome with what the researchers call a pathogenic microbial signature than those with a healthy microbial signature in their digestive system.
The researchers suggest that their findings could pave the way for the development of a “microbial signature” to pinpoint those who would respond best to a low FODMAP diet and manage those who do not in a better way.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Emma Halmos and Professor Peter Gibson of Monash University say that the adoption of the FODMAP diet is a significant change in the management of patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
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In general, the scientists found evidence that a low-carbohydrate diet works in relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome but they do not fully understand why it does so.
The findings pave the way for new therapies based on diet to manage the syndrome, they add.
The study appears in the journal Gut.
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