Does The Keto Diet Help Treat IBS Symptoms?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that causes gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Fortunately, it can be managed with medications and changes in diet. If you have IBS, you may have heard that the ketogenic diet, or keto diet, may be able to help treat IBS symptoms — but what exactly is the keto diet and can it really help relieve IBS? According to Verywell Health, the keto diet is a high-fat and low-carb diet that was originally created to help treat epilepsy but is now commonly used to help people lose weight.

The goal of the diet is to replace carbs with protein and fat as your main source of fuel so your body starts burning fat instead of carbs. This causes your body to start producing ketones so you can enter the metabolic state of ketosis, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day.

How does the keto diet affect the gut?

Despite the buzz, there is little research to support the claim that the keto diet is an effective treatment for IBS. In fact, there is only one small study that actually investigates the potential connection between the two (via Healthline). According to a 2009 study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the keto diet helped reduce stomach pain and improved bowel movements in 13 participants with IBS over the course of four weeks.

This could be due to the keto diet's impact on the gut microbiome, which can sometimes contribute to IBS symptoms. However, there is conflicting data on the effects that low-carb diets can have on gut bacteria. In some cases, low-carb diets can potentially have a negative effect on bacteria and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Either way, there is not enough information or evidence to determine whether or not the keto diet can actually help treat symptoms of IBS.