The Low FODMAP Diet: What You Need To Know
Prevention and Treatment IBS may be an embarrassing condition to have, but there's lots that can be done to mitigate its symptoms if you know the effects of what you're eating.
It is estimated that one in ten people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that includes symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Those with IBS struggle to identify trigger foods, sometimes cutting out certain foods they believe to be problematic only to be surprised by reoccurring symptoms. The good news is that there is an emerging dietary strategy that may help relieve symptoms for those with IBS called the Low FODMAP diet.
The Low FODMAP diet originated in Australia, and research shows that three out of four people find tremendous success on this lifelong diet. The Low FODMAP diet is complex and should be implemented with the help of a registered dietitian who is familiar with FODMAPs.
Your dietitian can assist you in adapting your diet to be low in FODMAPs and nutritionally balanced.
What is a FODMAP?
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. If you think that is a mouthful, you are not alone!
"Those with IBS struggle to identify trigger foods, sometimes cutting out certain foods they believe to be problematic only to be surprised by reoccurring symptoms."
Simply, FODMAPs are a group of sugars that are poorly digested by our bodies. Since FODMAPs are poorly broken down in the stomach, they travel into the bowel where they act as “fast food” for the gut bacteria. When gut bacteria breakdown or “eat” the FODMAPs it causes gases to be produced. This is what leads to symptoms of pain and bloating. In effort to resolve these uncomfortable symptoms, this diet substitutes foods that are low in FODMAPs.
Examples of Foods containing FODMAPs
- Fructose: Found in fruits such as pears, apples, mango, watermelon, dried fruits, honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup.
- Lactose: Found in milk from cow, goat or sheep. Lactose is also found in custard, soft cheese like ricotta and cottage cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
- Fructans: Found in garlic, onion, asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, wheat and rye.
- Galactans: Found in legumes (baked beans, kidney beans, soy beans, chickpeas and lentils).
- Polyols: Found in sugar alcohols often found in artificially sweetened gums and candies including sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol and maltitol.
The goal of the Low FODMAP diet is to improve IBS symptoms and to enhance a person’s quality of life. The process of transitioning your diet to be low FODMAP and seeing noticeable improvement takes around 2-8 weeks. Working with your registered dietitian makes this process less daunting!