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      Update on lactose malabsorption and intolerance: pathogenesis, diagnosis and clinical management

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          Lactose is the main source of calories in milk, an essential nutriedigestion, patients with visceral hypersensitivity nt in infancy and a key part of the diet in populations that maintain the ability to digest this disaccharide in adulthood. Lactase deficiency (LD) is the failure to express the enzyme that hydrolyses lactose into galactose and glucose in the small intestine. The genetic mechanism of lactase persistence in adult Caucasians is mediated by a single C→T nucleotide polymorphism at the LCTbo −13’910 locus on chromosome-2. Lactose malabsorption (LM) refers to any cause of failure to digest and/or absorb lactose in the small intestine. This includes primary genetic and also secondary LD due to infection or other conditions that affect the mucosal integrity of the small bowel. Lactose intolerance (LI) is defined as the onset of abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea after lactose ingestion by an individual with LM. The likelihood of LI depends on the lactose dose, lactase expression and the intestinal microbiome. Independent of lactose digestion, patients with visceral hypersensitivity associated with anxiety or the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are at increased risk of the condition. Diagnostic investigations available to diagnose LM and LI include genetic, endoscopic and physiological tests. The association between self-reported LI, objective findings and clinical outcome of dietary intervention is variable. Treatment of LI can include low-lactose diet, lactase supplementation and, potentially, colonic adaptation by prebiotics. The clinical outcome of these treatments is modest, because lactose is just one of a number of poorly absorbed carbohydrates which can cause symptoms by similar mechanisms.

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          Self-reported food-related gastrointestinal symptoms in IBS are common and associated with more severe symptoms and reduced quality of life.

          Despite the fact that food and diet are central issues, that concern patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the current understanding about the association between the intake of certain foods/food groups and the gastrointestinal (GI) symptom pattern, psychological symptoms, and quality of life is poor. The aim of this study was to determine which food groups and specific food items IBS patients report causing GI symptoms, and to investigate the association with GI and psychological symptoms and quality of life. We included 197 IBS patients (mean age 35 (18-72) years; 142 female subjects) who completed a food questionnaire in which they specified symptoms from 56 different food items or food groups relevant to food intolerance/allergy. The patients also completed questionnaires to assess depression and general anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression), GI-specific anxiety (Visceral Sensitivity Index), IBS symptoms (IBS-Severity Scoring System), somatic symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-15), and quality of life (Irritable Bowel Syndrome Quality of Life Questionnaire). In all, 84% of the studied population reported symptoms related to at least one of the food items surveyed. Symptoms related to intake of food items with incompletely absorbed carbohydrates were noted in 138 (70%) patients; the most common were dairy products (49%), beans/lentils (36%), apple (28%), flour (24%), and plum (23%). Of these, 58% experienced GI symptoms from foods rich in biogenic amines, such as wine/beer (31%), salami (22%), and cheese (20%). Histamine-releasing foods, such as milk (43%), wine/beer (31%), and pork (21%), were also considered causes of symptoms in IBS patients. GI symptoms were also frequently reported after intake of fried and fatty foods (52%). With increasing IBS symptom severity, patients reported more food items responsible for their GI symptoms (P=0.004), and this was also found in patients with more severe somatic symptoms (P<0.0001). Women tended to report more food items causing symptoms than men (P=0.06). A high number of food items causing GI symptoms was also associated with reduced quality of life and this was significant for the following domains: sleep (r=-0.25; P=0.001), energy (r=-0.21; P=0.005), food (r=-0.29; P<0.001), social functioning (r=-0.23; P=0.001), and physical status (r=-0.16; P<0.05). However, the number of food items reported to provoke GI symptoms was unrelated to body mass index, age, IBS subtype, anxiety, depression, or GI-specific anxiety. The majority of IBS patients believe that certain food items are important triggers of their GI symptoms. This is especially true for foods containing carbohydrates and fat, and also may be relevant for histamine-releasing food items and foods rich in biogenic amines. Self-reported food intolerance is associated with high symptom burden and reduced quality of life.
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            Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: randomized placebo-controlled evidence.

            Observational studies suggest dietary fructose restriction might lead to sustained symptomatic response in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and fructose malabsorption. The aims of this study were first to determine whether the efficacy of this dietary change is due to dietary fructose restriction and second to define whether symptom relief was specific to free fructose or to poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates in general. The double-blinded, randomized, quadruple arm, placebo-controlled rechallenge trial took place in the general community. The 25 patients who had responded to dietary change were provided all food, low in free fructose and fructans, for the duration of the study. Patients were randomly challenged by graded dose introduction of fructose, fructans, alone or in combination, or glucose taken as drinks with meals for maximum test period of 2 weeks, with at least 10-day washout period between. For the main outcome measures, symptoms were monitored by daily diary entries and responses to a global symptom question. Seventy percent of patients receiving fructose, 77% receiving fructans, and 79% receiving a mixture reported symptoms were not adequately controlled, compared with 14% receiving glucose (P < or = 0.002, McNemar test). Similarly, the severity of overall and individual symptoms was significantly and markedly less for glucose than other substances. Symptoms were induced in a dose-dependent manner and mimicked previous IBS symptoms. In patients with IBS and fructose malabsorption, dietary restriction of fructose and/or fructans is likely to be responsible for symptomatic improvement, suggesting efficacy is due to restriction of poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates in general.
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              Differential Effects of FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols) on Small and Large Intestinal Contents in Healthy Subjects Shown by MRI

              OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to investigate whether ingestion of fructose and fructans (such as inulin) can exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. The aim was to better understand the origin of these symptoms by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the gut. METHODS: A total of 16 healthy volunteers participated in a four-way, randomized, single-blind, crossover study in which they consumed 500 ml of water containing 40 g of either glucose, fructose, inulin, or a 1:1 mixture of 40 g glucose and 40 g fructose. MRI scans were performed hourly for 5 h, assessing the volume of gastric contents, small bowel water content (SBWC), and colonic gas. Breath hydrogen (H2) was measured and symptoms recorded after each scan. RESULTS: Data are reported as mean (s.d.) (95% CI) when normally distributed and median (range) when not. Fructose increased area under the curve (AUC) from 0–5 h of SBWC to 71 (23) l/min, significantly greater than for glucose at 36 (11–132) l/min (P<0.001), whereas AUC SBWC after inulin, 33 (17–106) l/min, was no different from that after glucose. Adding glucose to fructose decreased AUC SBWC to 55 (28) l/min (P=0.08) vs. fructose. Inulin substantially increased AUC colonic gas to 33 (20) l/min, significantly greater than glucose and glucose+fructose (both P<0.05). Breath H2 rose more with inulin than with fructose. Glucose when combined with fructose significantly reduced breath H2 by 7,700 (3,121–12,300) p.p.m./min relative to fructose alone (P<0.01, n=13). CONCLUSIONS: Fructose but not inulin distends the small bowel with water. Adding glucose to fructose reduces the effect of fructose on SBWC and breath hydrogen. Inulin distends the colon with gas more than fructose, but causes few symptoms in healthy volunteers.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                November 2019
                19 August 2019
                : 68
                : 11
                : 2080-2091
                [1 ] departmentDepartment of Visceral Surgery and Medicine , Inselspital Bern , Bern, Switzerland
                [2 ] departmentDepartment of Gastroenterology and Hepatology , University Hospital Zürich , Zurich, Switzerland
                [3 ] departmentClinical and Experimental Medicine , University of Leuven , Leuven, Belgium
                [4 ] departmentDigestive Function: Basel, Laboratory and Clinic for motility disorders and functional GI diseases, Center for integrative Gastroenterology , Klinik Arlesheim , Arlesheim, Switzerland
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Mark R Fox, Laboratory and Clinic for Disorders of Gastrointestinal Motility and Function, Center for Integrative Gastroenterology, Klinik Arlesheim, Arlesheim 4144, Switzerland;
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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