Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Food Science and Human Nutrition

First Major Professor

Ruth Litchfield


Master of Family and Consumer Sciences (MFCS)


Family and Consumer Sciences


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common gastrointestinal disorder, with significant impact on quality of life. Until recently, there has been little evidence-base for treating GI symptoms through dietary therapy; clinical treatment is often unsuccessful or unsatisfactory. The low-FODMAP diet (LFD) has emerged as a potential therapy for alleviating GI symptoms. Purpose: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the most current literature to determine the effectiveness of the low-FODMAP diet in managing the characteristic symptoms of IBS and to potentially identify a subset of the IBS population most likely to benefit from this approach. Ideally, this information may be translated into evidence-based and effective clinical treatment. Methods: An electronic search was performed of the Academic Search Complete/EBSCO, Google Scholar, and PubMed databases to find related peer-reviewed, full-text articles which pertained to the research question. Randomized, controlled trials, descriptive trials, and metaanalysis studies published between January 2010 and June 2018 were included. Using methodology based on the Evidence Analysis process, pertinent data was collected on each study and a quality rating was assigned to studies to determine their “weight” in providing evidence for the research purpose. Results: There were 15 RCTs found and 11 of these RCTs received a positive quality rating. All of the positively rated RCTs except for one found benefit to the LFD relative to IBS symptom control, although two studies of neutral quality found the LFD to be similar in effectiveness to the alternative intervention given to the comparator group. Three observational or nonrandomized studies also found significant benefit(s) to the LFD in improving IBS symptoms, 3 with two of these studies indicating potential longer-term benefit to the LFD. Abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and bowel habit status scores were commonly analyzed as variables of interest, and most studies found benefit to the LFD for these particular symptoms. Most studies did not analyze or include the IBS-C subtype. Conclusions: The LFD may be a good approach to use for IBS patients in the alleviation of abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, and other symptoms. There is little evidence to support the use of the LFD for IBS-C. Further research should elucidate long-term effects and potential risk vs. benefit analysis in utilizing this approach.

Copyright Owner

Elizabeth Foley

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