What’s the link between IBS foods and gut bacteria?

Gut bacteria
The effectiveness of IBS diets may be influenced by gut bacteria profiles.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive condition. It causes symptoms such as bloating and stomach pain.
  • A particular diet known as the low FODMAP diet is a typical treatment for IBS. This, however, is not the case for everyone.
  • According to new research, people with IBS who have a specific gut bacterial makeup may benefit from a low-FODMAP diet.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects about 12% of people in the United States. IBS people frequently suffer unpleasant symptoms.

Treatments that affect gut bacteria can assist in some cases. Dietary adjustments, probiotics, and fecal transplants are among the treatments available.

A low FODMAP diet is beneficial to some people with IBS. However, scientists are still attempting to figure out why this is beneficial.

According to a recent study published in the journal Gut, people with a specific gut flora makeup may benefit from a low FODMAP diet. Testing for this specific gut bacterial mix could aid doctors in developing an effective treatment plan for people who suffer from IBS.

What exactly is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a type of functional gastrointestinal illness. It has something to do with the brain’s and gut’s relationship.

People with IBS have a more sensitive digestive tract, and the muscles in the intestinal tract contract excessively frequently. This, however, differs from person to person.

The following are some of the most prevalent IBS symptoms:

  • bloating
  • abdominal pain
  • whitish mucus in the stool
  • a feeling of incomplete bowel movements

Food passes too slowly through the digestive tract for some people with IBS. Food goes too swiftly for some. Constipation, diarrhea, or mixed bowel habits are used by doctors to diagnose different kinds of IBS.

The exact causes of IBS are unknown to experts. People with particular risk factors, on the other hand, are more prone to develop the condition.

IBS, for example, affects more women than males, and more people under the age of 50 than those over 50.

IBS is more likely to develop in people who have had severe infections affecting their digestive tract, such as gastroenteritis, or in people who have had severely stressful life events.

Diets low in FODMAPs

To assist control IBS, a person with the condition may desire to adjust their diet. A low FODMAP diet is sometimes recommended by doctors. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides, as well as polyols, which are all forms of carbohydrates.

The low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.

For 2–4 weeks, people on a low FODMAP diet avoid all high FODMAP foods. Then they gradually begin to reintroduce particular FODMAP groupings. People with IBS can learn which foods cause their symptoms and which foods do not through this approach.

People who follow a low FODMAP diet avoid items that are high in fructose and lactose. They also shun a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as artificial sweeteners and carbohydrates. They shun wheat-based bread, for example, but are able to ingest corn-based bread.

Researchers are still attempting to figure out why some people with IBS benefit from a low FODMAP diet while others do not.

IBS and gut bacteria

IBS appears to be linked to and involving gut bacteria, according to evidence. The authors of the new study looked at the gut bacterial makeup of people with IBS and how it changed in response to a low FODMAP diet to find out more.

They first looked at bacteria in stool samples from people with IBS who were eating their regular diet. As a control, they looked at the bacterial makeup of stool samples from a member of the same household.

Among the participants with IBS, they discovered two distinct profiles. One group had a profile that was “pathogenic-like.” The other group had a “health-like” profile.

Clostridium difficile, Clostridium sordellii, and Clostridium perfringens were among the pathogenic-like species included in the disease. This profile, on the other hand, showed a low number of beneficial species, such as Bacteroidetes. There were also a lot of genes for amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism in the bacteria.

The health-like participants had profiles that were similar to the study’s control participants.

For four weeks, each participant followed a low FODMAP diet. The team kept track of the participants’ clinical responses and changes in gut bacteria during this time.

Participants with pathogenic-like profiles had more significant reductions in IBS symptoms than those with health-like profiles, according to the study. They also discovered that their gut bacterial composition and metabolic genes have altered to a more health-like profile.

Prof. Peter R. Gibson and Dr. Emma Halmos of Monash University’s Department of Gastroenterology and Alfred Health in Melbourne, Australia, write in a companion editorial:

“Their study has suggested that initial FODMAP restriction might actually correct dysbiosis in a proportion of [people] with IBS with consequent durable symptomatic benefit without the need for major FODMAP restriction.”

They also note that “the structure of fecal microbiota might predict the degree of response to restriction of FODMAPs.” In other words, looking at the gut bacterial makeup might help doctors predict how well a person with IBS will respond to following a low FODMAP diet.

Limitations of the study and future research

There were some limitations to the study.

For starters, the sample size was small. Second, the researchers only gathered dietary data from the subjects during the last week of their low FODMAP diet. “Participants may have been tempted to follow a more stringent diet on the week they had to disclose their dietary intake,” the study authors say.

They also recognize that other factors, aside from food, could have influenced the patients’ symptoms improvement. Similar testing and investigations in other communities with various food patterns are encouraged by the study authors to assist corroborate their findings.

The researchers believe that if their findings are confirmed, they will have a considerable impact on people who suffer from IBS.

In people with IBS, doctors may be able to screen for these unique gut bacteria patterns. They may be able to anticipate the optimal course of treatment for someone with IBS based on the findings. It could, for example, assist doctors in determining whether or not a low FODMAP diet would be beneficial.

Dr. Allen Andy Lee, a gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, was upbeat about the study’s findings. This study, he said Medical News Today, implies that we can construct more IBS subtypes to better predict how people with the condition would respond to dietary changes.

“Overall, this is an important study that supports prior studies and significantly enriches our understanding of the microbiota in IBS by suggesting that microbial composition and function may allow for subtyping of [people with IBS], which may serve as a biomarker for predicting clinical response to dietary interventions.”

– Dr. Allen Andy Lee

He did say, though, that the study has to be followed up on. “This was a small, single-center study,” he told MNT, “and [that] these findings need to be validated in bigger multi-center cohorts with different geographical and cultural origins.”