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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2001 Oct;36(10):1037-43.

Effect of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet on fasting small intestinal motility.

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  • 1University Dept. of Medicine, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA, Australia.



Changes in diet can alter gastric and small intestinal (SI) motility. The effects of a vegetarian diet on fasting SI motility are unknown.


Manometric studies were performed in 9 lacto-ovo vegetarians (7 women) and 9 omnivores (7 women) of similar age and body mass index. On each study day, manometry was used to assess SI motility for 5 h, or 3 complete cycles of the interdigestive motor complex (IDMC). Lacto-ovo vegetarians were studied once: omnivores were studied twice, on their usual diet, and after consuming a 14-day lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Diet diaries were kept for 5 days prior to each manometric study. Data were analysed for dietary composition and for cycle length and duration of each phase (I, II and III) of the IDMC.


Dietary intake did not differ between chronic vegetarians and chronic omnivores apart from a trend to higher fibre intake (29 +/- 3 versus 20 +/- 3 g/day; P = 0.058). Omnivores eating a vegetarian diet showed a trend to decreased alcohol consumption (P = 0.068), but did not increase their fibre intake (20 +/- 3 versus 21 +/- 3 g/day). Neither cycle length nor duration of each IDMC phase differed between chronic vegetarians and chronic omnivores. After 14 days of a vegetarian diet, omnivores had a reduction in cycle length (128 +/- 19 versus 86 +/- 12 min; P = 0.02), with a non-significant reduction of Phase II (99 +/- 20 versus 50 +/- 8 min: P = 0.066).


A chronic vegetarian diet has no major effect on fasting SI motility; but acute dietary change may alter the cycle length and component phases of the IDMC.

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