The low FODMAP diet is the first line of nutritional therapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAPs are short-chained carbohydrates (sugars) that are not easily absorbed in the gut, so they can cause IBS symptoms, like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and abdominal cramps. The FODMAP diet is not as sexy as other diet interventions out there, but is shown to be highly effective in managing IBS symptoms. Let’s dig deeper to learn more!
What does FODMAP stand for?
Fermentation is the process by which the gut turns undigested carbohydrates into gas, so this highlights the effect these carbohydrates can have on the body. Oligosaccharides include fructan and GOS. These are found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes, and other pulses. The disaccharide group contains lactose, which is found in dairy products. The monosaccharide group contains the simple carbohydrate, fructose, which is found in fruit, honey, and high fructose corn syrup. Polyols include sorbitol and mannitol, which can be found in some fruits and vegetables, as well as artificial sweeteners.
FODMAPs are not “unhealthy,” but are simply not absorbed as well, when eaten in large amounts. These carbohydrates can be beneficial for gut bacteria due to their fiber content, but with IBS, the gut wall is more permeable, so increased difficulty digesting these carbohydrates leads to negative GI symptoms.
Who is the FODMAP diet for?
The FODMAP diet has shown success in managing IBS, and may also help with SIBO treatment. Because this diet is very restrictive, it is not ideal for the general population. However, if you are dealing with chronic GI issues like constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and cramps, the FODMAP diet may be able to help.
The FODMAP diet is not a weight-loss diet. It is an elimination diet that helps IBS patients identify the food triggers that cause their specific symptoms. However, like many restrictive diets, it can be challenging and can lead to disordered eating. Because of this, the FODMAP diet should be done under the supervision of a registered dietitian to ensure success and avoid an unhealthy relationship with food.
How does the FODMAP diet work?
Under supervision and guidance of a registered dietitian, the low FODMAP diet starts with 2-6 weeks of elimination of all high FODMAP foods, then moves to a 4-6 week challenge period where foods are reintroduced to identify triggers. For my signature IBS management program, I also include a third stage of customization so that my clients are confident with how to integrate their trigger foods into their diet, in the right portion sizes, to manage symptoms.
FODMAPs are not the cause of IBS, but when you identify which foods trigger your symptoms, it is easier to prevent occurence of symptoms. Questions? Comment below or enter it in the “ask the dietitian” block to your right!
If you are interested in applying for my signature IBS management program that will empower you with knowledge and confidence about the FODMAP diet and IBS, click here!