Background and Aims: Preliminary evidence suggests that fermentable carbohydrate restriction might ameliorate functional gastrointestinal symptoms [FGS] in inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]. Our aim was to determine whether fermentable carbohydrates exacerbate FGS in IBD using a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, re-challenge trial. Methods: Patients with quiescent IBD and FGS responsive to a low FODMAP diet were allocated to a series of 3-day [d] fermentable carbohydrate challenges in random order [fructan, 12 g/d; galacto-oligosaccharides [GOS] 6 g/d; sorbitol, 6 g/d; and glucose placebo, 12 g/d], each separated by a washout period. Symptoms and stool output were measured daily during the challenges. Results: Thirty-two patients with IBD, fulfilling criteria for irritable bowel syndrome, functional bloating, or functional diarrhoea, were recruited and data were available for 29 patients completing all arms [12 Crohn's disease, 17 ulcerative colitis]. Significantly fewer patients reported adequate relief of FGS on the final day day of the fructan challenge [18/29, 62.1%] compared with glucose [26/29, 89.7%] [p = 0.033]. There was greater severity of pain [1.1 vs 0.5, p = 0.004], bloating [1.3 vs 0.6, p = 0.002], flatulence [1.5 vs 0.7, p = 0.004], and faecal urgency [0.9 vs 0.4, p = 0.014] on the final day of fructan challenge compared with glucose. Conclusions: At the relatively high doses used, fructans, but not GOS or sorbitol, exacerbated FGS in quiescent IBD. Further research is required to determine whether a low FODMAP diet reduces FGS in IBD and the degree of FODMAP restriction required for symptom improvement.
- Functional gastrointestinal symptoms
- Inflammatory bowel disease