The guts of it

December 2009

FocusThe guts of it

IBS or intolerance?

Volume 38, No.12, December 2009 Pages 962-965

Terry Bolin


The contribution of specific foods to the genesis of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been increasingly recognised in recent years.


This article discusses the dietary triggers for IBS and the role of diagnostic testing in patients with IBS.


In addition to the long standing implication of lactose in lactase deficient patients, fermentable dietary oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, together with very low carbohydrate diets, have been increasingly recognised as important in the causation and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Understanding their role and utilising the services of a practising dietician have become additional important tools for general practitioners managing this common complaint.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic illness of disordered bowel function and abdominal pain or discomfort, and is frequently accompanied by abdominal bloating. Irritable bowel syndrome affects patients physically, psychologically, socially and economically.1 This assumes great importance both in terms of quality of life and the economic burden of disease.

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