Fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), but not gluten, elicit modest symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized three-way crossover trial
Journal article, 2022

Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been associated with diets rich in fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), and gluten. Most previous studies have been single-blind and have focused on the elimination of FODMAPs or provocation with single FODMAPs. The effect of gluten is unclear, large trials isolating the effect of gluten from that of FODMAPs are needed. Objectives: The aims of this study were to ensure high intakes of a wide range of FODMAPs, gluten, or placebo, and to evaluate the effects on IBS symptoms using the IBS-severity scoring system (IBS-SSS). Methods: The study was carried out with a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized 3-way crossover design in a clinical facility in Uppsala from September 2018 to June 2019. In all, 110 participants fulfilling the IBS Rome IV criteria, with moderate to severe IBS, were randomly assigned; 103 (90 female, 13 male) completed the trial. Throughout, IBS participants maintained a diet with minimal FODMAP content and no gluten. Participants were block-randomly assigned to 1-wk interventions with FODMAPs (50 g/d), gluten (17.3 g/d), or placebo, separated by 1-wk washout. All participants who completed ≥1 intervention were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Results: In participants with IBS (n = 103), FODMAPs caused higher IBS-SSS scores (mean 240 [95% CI: 222, 257]) than placebo (198 [180, 215]; P = 0.00056) or gluten (208 [190, 226]; P = 0.013); no differences were found between the placebo and gluten groups (P = 1.0). There were large interindividual differences in IBS-SSS scores associated with treatment. No adverse events were reported. Conclusion: In participants with IBS, FODMAPs had a modest effect on typical IBS symptoms, whereas gluten had no effect. The large interindividual differences in responses to the interventions warrant further detailed studies to identify possible underlying causes and enable individual prediction of responses. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03653689.


Irritable bowel syndrome




Crossover trial


Functional gastrointestinal disorder




Elise Nordin

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Carl Brunius

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Rikard Landberg

Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Food and Nutrition Science

Per M. Hellström

Uppsala University

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

0002-9165 (ISSN) 19383207 (eISSN)

Vol. 115 2 344-352

Subject Categories


Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified

Applied Psychology





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3/3/2022 3