Low FODMAP diet
The low FODMAP diet is an exciting dietary approach for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Research started in Australia, where they showed some incredible results in the reduction of symptoms related to IBS. They found that under the supervision of a FODMAP trained Dietitian, 60- 80% of IBS sufferers found symptom improvement. The low FODMAP diet soon spread west (or east!) to Guys & St Thomas’ hospital in London, where they reproduced the same exciting results. A real medical breakthrough for IBS suffers!
FODMAPs are carbohydrates, fibres and sugars found in a range of foods. FODMAP stands for
F – Fermentable
O – Oligosaccharides
D – Di saccharides
M – Monosaccharides
A – And
P – Polyols
Thank goodness they shortened it to FODMAP!
How do FODMAPs cause IBS symptoms?
Watch the video or continue reading below.
In the picture – I’ve used a sandwich to illustrate our high FODMAP meal, however FODMAPs are found in a range of foods – not just the humble sandwich.
Eating and swallowing
The digestion process begins when we take a bite of food (the sandwich in the picture). Chewing, mixes the food with our saliva, where the enzymes start to breakdown the food. Food is then swallowed and enters the stomach, where it is further broken down by our stomach acid.
Digestion & Absorption
Partially digested food exits our stomach and enters our small bowel, where a number of enzymes and acids continue the digestion process. The aim of digestion is to breakdown longer molecules of protein, fat and carbohydrates into their individuals molecules; amino acids, fatty acids and sugars, ready for our bowel to absorb these nutrients into our blood stream. Each of us digest and absorb food in varying amounts, depending on a number of factors (our bowel health, illness, genes, stress levels and many more). In relation to FODMAPs – its the carbohydrates and sugars that are digested and absorbed in varying amounts. This digestion and absorption continues in our small bowel as the food moves towards our large bowel…..
Entering the large bowel.
The sugars that aren’t absorbed in our small bowel, enter the large bowel. These unabsorbed FODMAPs draw in water and are a food supply for the good bacteria that live there. The good bacteria in our large bowel, ferment the sugars (The F of FODMAP) producing gas. This is a normal process that occurs in all of us, but for people with IBS, this process is increased and/or the bowel is more sensitive to it – leading to distressing symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain.
Low FODMAP diet
A diet low in FODMAPs reduces the ‘food supply’ for the bacteria, reducing some of the symptoms associated with IBS. This diet can identify ‘problem’ FODMAPs which can then be later reintroduced into you diet to determine your personal tolerance level. You’ll be pleased to know – they don’t all have to be completely eliminated forever!
Want to try the low FODMAP diet?
The low FODMAP diet is quite complex, but for many with IBS, the benefits far outweigh the complexity of the diet.
Please don’t eliminate any food from your diet without the support of a Dietitian. It really isn’t worth risking your long term health. See the blog post ‘Can I try the low FODMAP diet?’ for more information about why it’s not recommended to ‘go it alone’.
Ask your GP, Gastroenterologist for a referral to a Dietitian or contact ‘The Internet Dietitian’ for more information on the low FODMAP diet.
Please leave a comment below if you found this a useful explanation of the low FODMAP diet?