Treatment of Refractory Celiac Symptoms with a Low FODMAP Diet

F van Megen et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 20: 2258-2266. Open Access! A Low FODMAP Diet Reduces Symptoms in Treated Celiac Patients With Ongoing Symptoms–A Randomized Controlled Trial

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was performed from 2018 to 2019 in 70 adults with biopsy-proven celiac disease. Inclusion criteria were as follows: persistent gastrointestinal symptoms defined by a Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS)–IBS version score of 30 or higher, gluten-free diet adherence for 12 months or longer, and serologic and mucosal remission. 

Key findings:

  • Compared to placebo-treated patients, there was significant improvement in pain, bloating, diarrhea and satiety, based on GSRS-IBS scores, in those assigned to a low FODMAPs diet (see below)

While this a low FODMAP diet can be helpful, the authors offer this cautionary advice:

  • “Following 2 complex diets increases the risk of inadequate nutritional intake, and patients should be followed up carefully. A low FODMAP diet should not be recommended to patients at nutritional risk or to patients at risk of developing an eating disorder.”
Figure 2 in Article

My take: Asking patients with celiac disease to further restrict their diet is akin to running the Peachtree Road Race in a fireman’s outfit. It can be done but doesn’t look like much fun.

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Low FODMAPs Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

A recent small study (SR Cox et al. Gastroenterology 2019: doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.09.024. [Epub ahead of print]) examined the use of a low-FODMAP diet to reduce symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease.

A summary of the study in GI & Hepatology News: Low-FODMAP diet eases gut symptoms in IBD

An excerpt:

While previous research has shown that a low-FODMAP diet can relieve gut symptoms such as swelling and flatulence in people with irritable bowel syndrome, the diet has been little studied in IBD patients, for whom gut symptoms often persist even in the absence of gastrointestinal inflammation.

In a study published in Gastroenterology, Selina Cox, MD, of King’s College, London, and colleagues randomized 52 people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease with persistent gut symptoms but without active inflammation to 4 weeks on a low-FODMAP diet (n = 27) or a control diet comprising sham dietary advice (n = 25).

At 4 weeks, Dr. Cox and her colleagues reported more patients on the low-FODMAP diet reported “adequate” relief of gut symptoms (52% vs. 16%, P = .007), and saw slight improvements in health-related quality of life scores, compared with the control group. Patient-reported flatulence and bloating were significantly lower in the treatment group, while few other symptom-specific differences were seen between groups…

There were no significant between-group differences in bacterial diversity or in biomarkers of inflammation.

My take: A low-FODMAP diet may help reduce symptoms but there is no indication that this diet is an effective treatment to reduce complications or reduce inflammation for patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  In addition, assistance from a dietician is recommended when implementing a low-FODMAP diet.

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AGA website for patient information: Low FODMAPs diet

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Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition


Evidence-Based IBS Treatment Recommendations from ACG

A recent  American College of Gastroenterology Task Force conducted a systematic review (AC Ford et al. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2018;113:1–18 ) to update management recommendations for irritable bowel syndrome -Link:

American College of Gastroenterology Monograph on Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The highlights of this report are summarized at Gastroenterology & Hepatoloy: Highlights of the Updated Evidence-Based IBS Treatment Monograph

A few excerpts:

“There have been numerous studies performed on the roles of diet and dietary manipulation in IBS. Three fairly firm conclusions were made following the review of these studies: (1) the low–fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide, and polyol (FODMAP) diet seems to be effective for overall IBS symptom improvement; (2) a gluten-free diet is not effective for symptom improvement; and (3) conducting tests to detect various types of allergies or intolerances in order to base a diet on those results does not appear to be effective. Of these 3 conclusions, the most impressive data that came out of the research was the evidence for the low-FODMAP diet. Not only were there more studies on this diet, but the results were fairly consistent and favorable, at least for the short-term management of IBS.”

” We did not find evidence supporting the idea that prebiotics and synbiotics were effective in IBS management… In ­contrast, studies demonstrated that probiotics did improve global gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as the individual symptoms of bloating and flatulence in patients with IBS. However, determining which probiotic is best was difficult”

“Three prosecretory agents are available: linaclotide (Linzess, Allergan/Ironwood Pharmaceuticals), lubiprostone (Amitiza, Takeda), and plecanatide (Trulance, Synergy Pharmaceuticals), with plecanatide being the most recently approved agent. All 3 of these agents had convincing data to support their use in patients with constipation-predominant IBS

My take: In IBS patients, if dietary therapy is recommended, current evidence favors a low FODMAP diet rather than a gluten-free diet.

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Image above -Parker Ridge Trail

Low Quality Evidence for IBS Dietary Therapy

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis (J Dionne et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2018; 113: 1290-1300) throws some shade on the effectiveness of dietary therapies for irritable bowel syndrome. Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference. The authors reviewed 1726 citations -only 9 were eligible for systematic review; two RCTs (n=111 participants) with gluten-free diet (GFD) and 7 RCTs (n=397) with low FODMAPs diet.

Key findings:

  • A GFD was associated with reduced global symptoms compared with control interventions (RR=0.42, CI 0.11-1.55) which was not statistically significant.  Thus, there is “insufficient evidence to recommend a GFD to reduce IBS symptoms.”
  • A low FODMAP diet was associated with reduced global symptoms compared with control interventions (RR=0.69, CI 0.54-0.88). The three RCTs with rigorous control diets found the least magnitude of effect. Thus, the overall quality of the data was “very low” according to the GRADE criteria.

Given the limited data supporting dietary therapy for IBS, the authors caution that in those who are placed on a low FODMAPs diet, that after a 2-6 week trial, those who “fail to improve should not continue the diet. ”

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Differential Microbiome Effects of Prebiotics and low FODMAPs

A recent study (J-W Huaman et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 155: 1004-7) examined the effects of a prebiotic (Bimuno) and a low FODMAPs diet for the treatment of functional GI disorders and their effects on the microbiome.

This was a randomized controlled 4-week trial with a 2-week followup period.  Those who received the prebiotic (N=19) received a placebo diet (Mediterranean-type) and those who were randomized to a low FODMAP diet (n=21) were instructed to consume a placebo.  The prebiotic contained beat-galactooligosaccharide.

Key findings:

  • Both groups had significant reduction in GI symptoms, though low FODMAPs was the only treatment helpful for flatulence/borborygmi.
  • The symptom reduction persisted in the prebiotic group for the 2 -week follow-up period, whereas symptoms reappeared immediately in the low FODMAP group.
  • The two treatments had opposite effects on the intestinal microbiota –the prebiotic treatment led to an increase in bifidobacteria and a decrease in Bilophilia wadsworthia.

My take: (borrowed from editorial pg 960-2): This study “may indicate that the effect of the prebiotic is mediated through its effects on gut microbiota composition, whereas the effect of the low FODMAP diets is more related to the meal composition…than to its effects on gut microbiota composition.”

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Another Study: Low FODMAPs Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Another good study on the low FODMAPs diet for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D): S Eswaran et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1890-9

This was a propspective, single-blind trial of 92 patients (84 completed study) with IBS-D (65 women) comparing the low FODMAPs diet to a modified diet recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for 4 weeks. Key findings:

  • The low FODMAPs group had larger increase in IBS-QOL score (15.0 vs 5.0).  In addition, based on IBS-QOL a meaningful clinical response occurred in 52% compared with 21% in the mNICE group.
  • Activity impairment was significantly reduced in the low FODMAPs group; -22.89 compared with -9.44.  Anxiety scores decreased as well.

My take: This study indicates that the low FODMAPs diet helps patient with IBS-D, and not just with their GI symptoms.

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Low FODMAP –Real World Experience

HM Staduacher et al. Gastroenterol October 2017; 153: 936–47

Key finding:

  • In this randomized, placebo-controlled study with 104 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the researchers spent only 10 minutes per patient teaching the low FODMAPs diet; yet 57% reported adequate relief of symptoms.

AGA Journals blog summary: Can a Diet Low in FODMAP Reduce IBS Symptoms in the Real World?

An excerpt:

Heidi Maria Staudacher et al aimed to investigate the effects of a diet low in FODMAPs compared with a sham diet in patients with IBS, and determine the effects of a probiotic on diet-induced alterations in the microbiota.

They performed a 2×2 factorial trial of 104 patients with IBS. Patients were either given counselling to follow a sham diet or diet low in FODMAPs for 4 weeks, but not the actual foods. Patients also received a placebo or multistrain probiotic formulation, resulting in 4 groups (27 receiving sham diet/placebo, 26 receiving sham diet/probiotic, 24 receiving low-FODMAP diet/placebo, and 27 receiving low-FODMAP diet/probiotic)…

In the per-protocol analysis, a significantly higher proportion of patients on the low-FODMAP diet had adequate symptom relief (61%) than in the sham diet group (39%).

The total mean IBS severity score was significantly lower for patients on the low-FODMAP diet (173 ± 95) than the sham diet (224 ± 89), but there was no significantly difference between patients given probiotic (207 ± 98) or placebo (192 ± 93).

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (part 2)

A terrific 12 page review of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): AC Ford, BE Lacy, NJ Talley. NEJM 2017; 376: 2566-78. While yesterday’s post reviewed some of the updated diagnostic and pathophysiology information, today’s will focus on treatment.

The article’s Table 2 outlines the most frequent treatments, their efficacy, side effects, costs, and quality of evidence. I’ve tried to highlight the key points from table and discussion:

  1. Soluble fiber (eg. psyllium). Efficacy: effective -start at low doses. Quality of evidence: Moderate, Cost: $15-30 per month.
  2. Low-FODMAP diet. Efficacy: “May be effective, nutritionist guidance helpful.” While there have been studies showing this diet can be effective, two studies have shown that this diet is not significantly superior to conventional IBS diets (eg. “eating small, regular meals and avoiding insoluble fiber, fatty foods, and caffeine”).Quality of evidence: Very low.
  3. Gluten-free diet.  Efficacy: May be effective.  “No additive effect over that of a low-FODMAP diet in another small RCT.” Quality of evidence: Very low.
  4. Antispasmodic drugs (eg. dicyclomine).Efficacy: May be effective. Quality of evidence: Low, “No high-quality trials.” Cost: $50 per month.
  5. Peppermint oil. Efficacy: Effective, though few RCTs and no FDA-approved end points. Quality of evidence: Moderate. “No high-quality trials.”  Cost: $9-19 per month
  6. Lubiprostone. Efficacy: Effective, though “only a modest benefit over placebo, particularly for abdominal pain.” Quality of evidence: Moderate. Cost: ~$350 per month.
  7. Linaclotide.  Efficacy: Effective.. ” Quality of evidence: High. “No high-quality trials.”  Cost: ~$350 per month.
  8. Alosetron/5-HT3 receptor antagonists.  Efficacy: Effective. ” Quality of evidence: High. “No high-quality trials.”  Cost: ~$350-1100 per month. Alosetron may trigger ischemic colitis.
  9. Eluxadoline.  Efficacy: Effective, though “only a modest benefit over placebo for global symptoms and no benefit over placebo for abdominal pain.”  Quality of evidence: High. “No high-quality trials.”  Cost: ~$1100 per month. May trigger pancreatitis.
  10. Rifaximin. Efficacy: Effective. Quality of evidence: Moderate. “Modest benefit over placebo.”  “Relapse among patients who have a response is usual.” Cost: ~$1500 per month.
  11. Probiotics. Efficacy: May be effective.  Quality of evidence: Low. “Few high-quality trials and no FDA-approved end points.”  Cost: ~$20 per month.
  12. Tricyclic antidepressants. Efficacy: Effective. Quality of evidence: Moderate.  “Few high-quality trials and no FDA-approved end points.”   “A meta-analysis showed that tricyclic antidepressants were more effective than placebo in 11 randomized trials involving a total of 744 patients.” Cost: ~$5-10 per month.
  13. Psychological treatments. Efficacy: Effective. Quality of evidence: Low.  “Few high-quality trials and no FDA-approved end points.” “Their efficacy may be overestimated because of the lack of blinding.” There is also difficulty for many patients in finding an appropriate provider.  Cost: ??
  14. Placebo. In treatment trials, a placebo response is noted in 30-40%.
  15. Complementary/Alternative Therapies.  “Herbal therapies remain unclear.  STW5 (Iberogast) has been tested and “showed superiority over placebo.” Melatonin “has been reported to reduce abdominal pain in patients with IBS.”

The authors recommend judicious testing  “Any reassurance derived from colonoscopy to rule out organic disease in patients with IBS is short-lived.”

The authors outline their typical approach.  “Reassurance, explanation, and a positive diagnosis are essential steps in management. We recommend starting with dietary modification (slowly increasing soluble fiber if the patient has IBS with constipation or instituting a low-FODMAP diet temporarily  if the patient has IBS with diarrhea or the mixed subtype of IBS). We also recommend increased exercise and stress reduction.  A probiotic may be added, especially if bloating is prominent.  Pain may be ameliorated with an antispasmodic agent or a tricyclic antidepressant, diarrhea with loperamide or a bile acid sequestrant (eg. colestipol) and constipation with polyethylene glycol.” The other therapies may be used in those with persistent IBS symptoms.

My take: When a disease has this many treatments, usually this means that none of the treatments are all that great.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

In Case Someone Asks…Low FODMAP Maternal Diet May Help Colic

According to a very small study, maternal ingestion of a low FODMAP diet reduced crying in colicy babies who were breastfed.  This report was presented at the recent United European Gastroenterology meeting (P0609).  The study consisted of a single-blind, open-label study of 18 infants.  The key finding was reduced crying from 142 minutes to 90 minutes over the 2 week study period.

A summary of this report is available at (May 2016, pg 8).

My take: A bigger study is needed to ascertain whether this intervention is worthwhile.  Many kids get better during a 2 week period without treatment.

Which Diet is Best for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

As noted in this blog previously, there has been increasing evidence that a low FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) diet is an effective option for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults and children. Now, a study (L Bohn et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 149: 1399-1407) directly compares a low FODMAPs diet with an IBS diet in a multicenter, parallel, single-blind study of 75 patients (adults) with Rome III criteria for IBS.

The comparison IBS diet recommended regular meal patterns, avoidance of large meals, reduced intake of fat and reduced insoluble fibers, caffeine, and gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage and onions.  In addition, this diet recommended avoidance of spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and sweeteners that end with “-ol.” This diet has been recommended by the British Dietetic Association and by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).  NICE Guidelines for IBS

Key findings:

  • 67 patients completed the study.  The severity of IBS symptoms improved in both groups (P<.0001) without a difference between the two groups
  • 19 (50%) of low FODMAPs had reductions in IBS severity scores of >50 compared with baseline and 17 patients (46%) in the ‘traditional’ IBS diet group had this degree of improvement.

My take: Diet changes often result in symptom improvement in IBS.  Both of these diets can be recommended in patients with IBS.

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