Gluten-Free for IBS-D?

A recent study (I Aziz et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 696-703) shows that a 6 week gluten-free diet reduced IBS-D symptoms in 29 of 41 (71%) patients.

  • The authors performed a prospective study with all patients receiving a gluten-free diet.  At 6 weeks, 21 of 29 who had responded to GFD continued GFD through 18 months followup.
  • One difference with this study compared to prior studies –these patients were irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and fulfilled Rome III criteria.  Celiac disease had been excluded with serology and histology; thus, these patients did not have “potential” celiac disease.
  • In addition to GI symptoms like abdominal pain, distention, and stooling problems, patients experienced improvement in mood, fatigue and quality of life.
  • The authors note that the response rate of 71% is much higher than they would have expected if the response was related solely to a placebo effect.

My take: This small study shows that a gluten free diet may be effective in improving the symptoms in many patients with IBS-D.  Other studies have shown that several other diets are effective as well.

Related blog posts:

IBS diagram



3 thoughts on “Gluten-Free for IBS-D?

  1. It is striking just how many diets have been studied and shown to help IBS. Perhaps it’s not the diet, it’s the participation in a study, keeping logs, etc. that really ‘works’.

    • I think your comment has a lot of merit. At the same time, I do think that there are significant subset of individuals with IBS whose symptoms are triggered by specific foods and as a result, some diets can ameliorate symptoms.

      • Completely agree. IBS is a phenotype, not a single disease; there’s unlikely to be “one therapy” that works completely for everyone. It’s one of those multimodal things– need stress reduction, good sleep hygiene, appropriate eating habits (does anyone take the time to chew anymore?), drinking water, and looking for/tracking specific food triggers. A lot of work, admittedly!

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