November 18, 2020

What's the Low-FODMAP Diet all about?

Those in the IBS “community” are constantly trying to find relief for their symptoms and the Low-FODMAP diet is touted very frequently.

This is because research investigating the link between diet and IBS symptoms have now found that a large group of dietary sugars known ‘Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols’ (hence the anacronym FODMAP) are sugars that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria to produce gas. Eating a range of these fermentable carbohydrates in meals can also lead to other common IBS symptoms such as bloating, wind, loose stools etc. 

Answer to your “IBS free” dreams? Yes and no. It is a good diet to follow to relieve common IBS symptoms, but it should only be followed for 6 weeks (at total exclusion) as we need fermentable carbohydrates.  Certain strains of bacteria in your gut breaks down these carbohydrates to produce short chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate and butyrate) which are the primary energy sources for the cells in the colon.  If you exclude them for a long period of time, you could be setting yourself up for something much worse than IBS in the future as they keep your colon healthy.

I have found with my clients the most common foods that aggravate are from the Oligosaccharides family – Fructans such as wheat, onions and garlic and Disaccharides – lactose (from animal milks).  If you think about it, wheat and dairy are in a lot of products and onions and garlic are the base for most dishes so not surprising.

6 weeks is all it takes Even if you are feeling better on this diet, you need to add groups back in if tolerated.  I usually use this diet with my clients for around 6 weeks to give them relief whilst we try and get to the bottom (no pun intended) of what could be causing their IBS.

There are lots of resources for this diet, the app from Monash University is especially useful for on the go checking of foods as well as lots of websites with lots of lovely recipes.  Word of warning though, just because it’s low-FODMAP doesn’t mean it’s healthy, so don’t fall into the trap of eating all the sweet stuff as sugar is not what your gut needs either! 

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