During the past few years the Low FODMAP diet has gained international attention and has recently been making its way to the United States. “The FOD what?” you may ask. The Low FODMAP diet is intended for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). FODMAP’s, otherwise known as Fermentable Oligo Di-, and Monosaccharides & Polyls, are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the gut. FODMAP’s occur in many of our everyday foods, even “healthy” foods. Unlike many diets, the Low FODMAP diet is not intended for weight loss, but rather for improved bowel function and to relieve abdominal pain.
Does this mean you should try it?
If you are one of the 10-15% IBS sufferers in the United States, then yes the low FODMAP diet may help. Common symptoms of IBS, according to the Mayo Clinic include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- A bloated feeling
- Gas (more than normal)
- Diarrhea or constipation: Sometimes alternating
- Mucus in stool
These symptoms are usually an ongoing issue before being considered IBS.
Normally carbohydrates are absorbed in your small intestines. However, FODMAP’s are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and then make their way down to the large intestine. The bacteria in the large intestine then begin to feed on these FODMAP’s. This fermentation process increases water delivery to the bowel and hence bloating and GI issues can occur. Everyone absorbs FODMAP’s poorly, and this is normally a good thing because you want to feed the good bacteria in your gut. But for unclear reasons it exacerbates GI issues in the IBS sufferer.
FODMAP’s include a variety of short chain carbohydrates including fructose, lactose, fructans, mannitol and sorbital. Fructans include barley, rye and wheat based products. People who believe they have a gluten sensitivity may actually be having a reaction to the fructans instead, which is why they have relief when they remove gluten products. Interesting, huh?
What other foods contain high amounts of FODMAP’s
- Wheat products
All high FODMAP foods are not included here and new ones are coming out all the time. I highly encourage anyone who wants to begin this diet to meet with a Regisitered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to make sure their diet is not lacking in any nutrients because many foods are eliminated on the diet. If you would like more information regarding the Low FODMAP diet then click here for a more comprehensive food list from Stanford University. Not all foods need to be eliminated forever, but it is helpful to remove all high FODMAP’s at first from your diet and then add them back in slowly to see which ones cause you to react. You might be reactive to gluctans but not those high in fructose. Everyone is different. With patience your gut may be back onto the road of recovery soon!
On a side note, please consult your doctor if you are concerned you have IBS