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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dietary Treatment Found to Be "More Effective" Than Drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), More Studies Needed Before Adoption

Dietary Treatment Found to Be "More Effective" Than Drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), More Studies Needed Before Adoption

A Swedish study has reported that dietary management is more effective than medications in alleviating the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Researchers pointed out that dietary modifications significantly reduced IBS symptoms in about 70% of patients. The study, published on Thursday in the "Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology" journal, indicates that IBS is a common condition causing abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation to varying degrees.

Treatment often includes dietary advice, such as eating small meals and avoiding foods that trigger IBS symptoms like coffee, alcohol, and carbonated drinks. Medications may also be used to improve specific symptoms like gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or abdominal pain, with antidepressants being used in some cases.

The study compared three types of treatments, including two based on diet and one on medication, involving adults with IBS symptoms at the University of Gothenburg Hospital in Sweden.

The first group received traditional dietary advice for IBS patients, focusing on avoiding foods containing fermentable carbohydrates, such as lactose, legumes, onions, and cereals. The second group was given a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fats. The third group received usual medical treatment for IBS symptoms.

Each group included about 100 participants, with the treatment period lasting four weeks. The researchers examined the participants' response to the treatment, showing that symptoms in the first group decreased by 76%, in the second group by 71%, and in the third group by 58%.

All participants in the groups reported significant improvements in the quality of life, a reduction in physical symptoms, and a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms.

Following a six-month follow-up, the study found that even after some participants partially returned to their previous dietary habits, the first group maintained a 68% improvement in symptoms, while the second group showed 60%, compared to the third group.

In this context, the study's lead researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Dr. Sana Nebaka, told "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat," "We found that dietary treatments were more effective in relieving IBS symptoms compared to the best medical treatment approach."

She added that, based on the results, the dietary treatment focusing on reducing all carbohydrates or fermentable carbohydrates could be considered a more effective option for alleviating IBS symptoms than drug treatment. However, she highlighted the need for further studies before adopting it for patient treatment.

Dr. Nebaka concluded by stressing the importance of implementing dietary treatments in conjunction with monitoring progress in outcomes, with the guidance of a dietitian to ensure the body's nutritional needs are met. She noted that committing permanently to a restrictive diet should be avoided and could be used temporarily to ease symptoms.

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