A team from Goteborg, Sweden, investigated the prevalence of subjective food-related gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, and its relationship to clinical characteristics and psychological factors in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
330 patients with IBS and 80 healthy volunteers completed a food questionnaire developed for the study.
The subjects graded their subjective symptoms after 35 different foods, and a food score was obtained by adding the item scores.
The relationship between subjective food-related GI symptoms and referral status, IBS subgroup (predominant bowel pattern), sex, anxiety, depression and body mass index (BMI) was estimated.
The researchers found that in 209 (63%) of the patients the GI symptoms were related to meals. Gas problems and abdominal pain were the most frequently reported symptoms.
Foods rich in carbohydrates, as well as fatty food, coffee, alcohol, and hot spices were most frequently reported to cause symptoms. The food score was found to be higher in patients than in controls.
In the IBS group higher scores were observed in patients with anxiety and females. The results were unrelated to IBS subgroup, referral status, or BMI. The BMI did not differ between groups.
Researcher M. Simren, of the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, concluded, "The majority of IBS patients consider their symptoms to be related to meals. Foods rich in carbohydrates and fat especially cause problems. Nevertheless, the majority of IBS patients are either normal- or over-weight. Female gender and anxiety predict a high degree of food-related symptoms in IBS."