Trends and characteristics associated with dietary triggers and psychological distress in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a cross-sectional study

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2021 May;25(10):3752-3761. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202105_25943.

T Larussa 1, L Abenavoli, A Corea, A C Procopio, L Giubilei, R Vallelunga, N Polimeni, E Suraci, R Marasco, M Imeneo, L Boccuto, F Luzza


Author information

  • 1Department of Health Sciences, University of Catanzaro "Magna Graecia", Catanzaro, Italy. larussa@unicz.it.


Objective: Diet, visceral sensitivity, and psychological distress play an important role in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This study focused on the relation between IBS severity, foods, visceral sensitivity, and anxiety/depression.

Patients and methods: Patients with IBS were investigated through (1) IBS-symptoms severity score (SSS), (2) self-reported food intolerance, (3) visceral sensitivity index (VSI), and (4) Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Seventy-seven patients agreed to participate in the survey. Of them, 64 (83%) showed IBS according to Rome IV criteria and were included in the final analysis. Patients with IBS-D were 30 (47%), with IBS-C 27 (42%), and with IBS-M 7 (11%).

Results: Fifty-eight patients (90%) considered at least one foodstuff as IBS trigger. Amine-rich foods represented a symptom trigger for 77% of patients, those with lectin for 70%, IACs by 48%, and capsaicin by 37%. Overweight was significantly associated with amine-rich foods (p=0.015), age >45 years (p=0.001) and non-smoking condition (p=0.033) with lectin-rich foods, male gender (p=0.005) and overweight (p=0.027) with capsaicin-containing foods. A positive VSI score was found in 59% of patients, and non-smoking condition was significantly associated (OR 10.03; p=0.009). No factors were associated with a positive HADS score, shown by 80% of patients. Severe IBS was shown by 63% of patients, being amine-rich foods (p=0.024), overweight (p=0.020), and female gender (p=0.029) independent risk factors while marriage/cohabiting a protective one (p=0.038). Amine-rich foods are an independent risk factor for severe IBS, along with overweight and female gender.

Conclusions: Clinicians should pay more attention to self-reported food intolerance in IBS patients. A personalized therapy including dietary advice as part of treatment could be of great benefit.


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