Dietary changes more effective than medications for IBS: new study

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Study shows dietary changes offer relief for irritable bowel syndrome patients.

NEW YORK, April 20: A recent study conducted at the University of Gothenburg has revealed that dietary adjustments offer significant relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients, with over 70% experiencing reduced symptoms compared to conventional medication-based treatments. The findings of the study have been published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology journal.

IBS, a prevalent condition characterized by abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, often presents with varying degrees of severity and symptom combinations. While conventional treatments typically include dietary modifications and medications to manage symptoms, the efficacy of these approaches varies among patients.

The study, led by researchers from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, compared three treatment strategies: traditional dietary advice focusing on eating behavior and low fermentable carbohydrate intake (FODMAPs), a diet low in carbohydrates but high in protein and fat, and medication-based treatment targeting specific IBS symptoms.

Participants, comprising adult patients with moderate to severe IBS symptoms, were divided into three groups, each consisting of around 100 individuals. The treatment duration for each group spanned four weeks.

Results from the study demonstrated clear efficacy differences among the treatment approaches. The group receiving traditional dietary advice and low FODMAP intake exhibited the highest symptom reduction, with 76% experiencing significant relief. Meanwhile, 71% of participants in the low-carbohydrate diet group reported reduced symptoms, compared to 58% in the medication group.

Furthermore, all treatment groups reported improved quality of life, reduced physical symptoms, and decreased levels of anxiety and depression. Even at a six-month follow-up, a significant proportion of participants from the dietary groups maintained clinically significant symptom relief, indicating the long-term efficacy of dietary interventions.

Lead researcher Sanna Nybacka, along with her colleagues Stine Störsrud and Magnus Simrén from Sahlgrenska Academy, emphasized the pivotal role of diet in IBS treatment. Nybacka highlighted the need for personalized treatment approaches tailored to individual patient needs and expressed plans for further research to identify predictive factors influencing treatment outcomes.

The study underscores the importance of dietary interventions as a primary management strategy for IBS and highlights the potential for personalized treatment approaches to optimize patient care in the future.

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