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Self-reported food-related GI symptoms in IBS are more severe

Self-reported food-related GI symptoms in IBS are common and associated with more severe symptoms and reduced quality of life, reports the latest issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

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Despite the fact that food and diet are central issues, that concern patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the current understanding about the association between the intake of certain foods/food groups and the gastrointestinal (GI) symptom pattern, psychological symptoms, and quality of life is poor.

Dr Lena Böhn and from Sweden determined which food groups and specific food items IBS patients report causing GI symptoms.

The team investigated the association with GI and psychological symptoms, and quality of life.

The research team included 197 IBS patients who completed a food questionnaire in which they specified symptoms from 56 different food items or food groups relevant to food intolerance/allergy.

58% experienced GI symptoms from foods rich in biogenic amines
American Journal of Gastroenterology

The patients also completed questionnaires to assess depression and general anxiety, GI-specific anxiety, IBS symptoms, somatic symptoms, and quality of life.

The team found that 84% of the studied population reported symptoms related to at least one of the food items surveyed.

Symptoms related to intake of food items with incompletely absorbed carbohydrates were noted in 70% of patients.

The resesarch team observed that the most common food items were dairy products, beans/lentils, apple, flour, and plum.

Of these, 58% experienced GI symptoms from foods rich in biogenic amines, such as wine/beer, salami, and cheese.

Histamine-releasing foods, such as milk, wine/beer, and pork, were also considered causes of symptoms in IBS patients.

The team found that GI symptoms were frequently reported after intake of fried and fatty foods.

With increasing IBS symptom severity, patients reported more food items responsible for their GI symptoms, and this was also found in patients with more severe somatic symptoms.

Women tended to report more food items causing symptoms than men.

A high number of food items causing GI symptoms was also associated with reduced quality of life and this was significant for the following domains, including sleep, energy, food, social functioning, and physical status.

However, the number of food items reported to provoke GI symptoms was unrelated to body mass index, age, IBS subtype, anxiety, depression, or GI-specific anxiety.

Dr Böhn's team concludes, "The majority of IBS patients believe that certain food items are important triggers of their GI symptoms."

"This is especially true for foods containing carbohydrates and fat, and also may be relevant for histamine-releasing food items and foods rich in biogenic amines."

"Self-reported food intolerance is associated with high symptom burden and reduced quality of life."

Am J Gastroenterol 2013; 108: 634–641
21 May 2013

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