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Treatment for gastrointestinal problems needed

In many countries IBS affects more than one in ten of the population. The disorder is becoming more common, and the cause is unknown. A new diet called FODMAP has shown promising results. There is also some evidence that a gluten-free or low-carbohydrate diet can have a soothing effect on the gastrointestinal tract. More scientific studies are needed to determine which diet works best and is easiest to live with. The Dietary Science Foundation invested money in research on IBS in 2015.

Living with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is often painful. On days when the gut rebels it can be hard to go to work. Some people don’t dare to leave home in case they can’t get to a toilet in time. Finding an effective treatment for children and young people is equally important because they may fall behind in school. Research has also identified an association between abdominal problems in children and an increased risk of mental illness: Functional Abdominal Pain in Childhood and Long-term Vulnerability to Anxiety Disorders.

There is few established treatment for IBS. A study from December 2013 shows that a diet called FODMAP can help: A Diet Low in FODMAPs Reduces Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The diet was developed by Australian researchers and aims to minimize the amount of certain plant fibers, sugars and sugar alcohols in the diet. Read more about the diet here: Low FODMAP diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Gas-producing bacteria feed on carbohydrates

Another diet that many people will testify to having an effect on gastrointestinal problems is a low-carbohydrate diet. A small study from 2009 showed that 10 out of 13 people who ate a strict low-carbohydrate diet for four weeks saw an improvement in their bowel function: A Very Low-carbohydrate Diet Improves Symptoms and Quality of Life in Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. One explanation for the success of a low-carbohydrate diet could be that gas-producing intestinal bacteria feed on carbohydrates. A diet heavy in carbohydrates diet allows them to thrive.

Another emerging theory is that intestinal problems could be caused by gluten sensitivity.

We need to know more about how various dietary treatments affect IBS. In 2015 the Dietary Science Foundation, together with Skandia’s research foundation (a Swedish insurance company) invested in a study to evaluate the role of carbohydrates on IBS. The study is being carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg and the results are expected to be published in 2020.