Easing IBS: Cutting out widely used sugar may be key

People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who complied with a fructose-restricted diet significantly reduced their symptoms, according to a University of Iowa Health Care study.

The investigators tested a group of 80 patients with suspected IBS and found that 30 of them were fructose-intolerant. These 30 individuals were asked to follow a fructose-restricted diet for an average of about one year. At the study follow-up, 26 participants were available to report whether they had adhered to the fructose-restrictions. Nearly half of the group (14 of 24) said they had complied and reported reduced bowel and gastrointestinal symptoms. People who did not comply had no change in their symptoms.

Anything with high fructose corn syrup, a prevalent ingredient in commercially prepared food in the Western diet, can cause problems for people with IBS or fructose intolerance. Soft drinks and chocolate also are culprits. To a lesser extent, fruits and vegetables can be a problem if they are eaten in large or excessive quantities.

Primary investigator Satish Rao, MD, a professor of internal medicine, pointed out that both patients and physicians should be aware that it is hard to comply with fructose restrictions, so physicians need to explore with patients how best to improve their compliance.

“It’s understandably hard to have people change their lifestyle, so we’re also looking at what we can do other than diet,” Rao said.

University of Iowa, Oct 13, 2003