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Researchers from Yale have found patients with IBS experience fewer symptoms when they follow diets that are modified according to results of food sensitivity testing.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects nearly 1 in 5 adults, and is a broad-spectrum term that covers a range of symptoms including bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. There is no single known underlying cause or cure, and most conventional treatments focus on symptom relief. Many patients seek alternative ways to deal with the problem, and often try out specialised diets. This is one of the first studies to provide scientific evidence of the efficacy of following a restricted diet to reduce IBS symptoms and results were published recently in the British Medical Journal Open Gastroenterology.

In this latest study, 58 patients with IBS were recruited to take part in a double-blind, randomised clinical trial. At the start of the study, the researchers carried out food sensitivity testing on all patients; blood samples were collected to evaluate immune cell activation in response to specific foods. Patients were then assigned either an individualised diet with restricted foods consistent with their test results, or an individualised diet with restricted foods inconsistent with test results.

Results showed that whilst both sets of patients experienced improvements, those placed on the restricted diet consistent with test results fared much better in terms of symptom severity and overall too.

The researchers commented on the results:

“The people who consumed the diet consistent with the test did significantly better than people on the sham diet. If these intriguing results can be replicated in larger and more diverse samples they can provide insight into another way to treat a condition that can often be very frustrating. It can be debilitating and patients are often looking for dietary approaches to it.”

For more information on how to deal naturally with this complex problem, click here for our simple guide to IBS.

Ali A, Weiss TR et al. Efficacy of individualized diets in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.  BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2017; 4 (1): e000164 DOI: 10.1136/bmjgast-2017-000164

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