Altered Gut Microbiota in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Its Association with Food Components

J Pers Med. 2021 Jan 8;11(1):35. doi: 10.3390/jpm11010035.

Zahra A Barandouzi 1 2, Joochul Lee 3, Kendra Maas 4, Angela R Starkweather 2, Xiaomei S Cong 2 5


Author information

  • 1School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
  • 2School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
  • 3Department of Statistics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
  • 4Microbial Analysis, Resources, and Services (MARS), University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
  • 5Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Connecticut, Farmington, CT 06106, USA.


The interplay between diet and gut microbiota has gained interest as a potential contributor in pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The purpose of this study was to compare food components and gut microbiota patterns between IBS patients and healthy controls (HC) as well as to explore the associations of food components and microbiota profiles. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 80 young adults with IBS and 21 HC recruited. The food frequency questionnaire was used to measure food components. Fecal samples were collected and profiled by 16S rRNA Illumina sequencing. Food components were similar in both IBS and HC groups, except in caffeine consumption. Higher alpha diversity indices and altered gut microbiota were observed in IBS compared to the HC. A negative correlation existed between total observed species and caffeine intake in the HC, and a positive correlation between alpha diversity indices and dietary fiber in the IBS group. Higher alpha diversity and gut microbiota alteration were found in IBS people who consumed caffeine more than 400 mg/d. Moreover, high microbial diversity and alteration of gut microbiota composition in IBS people with high caffeine consumption may be a clue toward the effects of caffeine on the gut microbiome pattern, which warrants further study.

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