The low FODMAP diet
The low FODMAP diet is one of the best ways in which to manage Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Research has shown to be around 76% effective, whilst in practice, it is even higher at 95% (1).
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of sugars which can be found in all kinds of foods such as wheat, dairy, onion and garlic.
The problem with these sugars is that they start breaking down in your large bowel (right at the end of your gut) where there are lots of bacteria and in this process, lots of gas in produced. This gas is what you may be experiencing as bloating or abdominal pain. And, if this wasn't enough, the FODMAPs also draw in lots of water at this point which can lead to loose stools or diarrhoea.
This may sound all rather complicated already but your dietitian will make this process more simple by providing you with written information and advise you on where to find suitable recipes. Not only this, but the diet is only four weeks in length because at this stage you start to reintroduce foods to find out which FODMAP or FODMAPs are causing your symptoms.
If you think this diet is for you, just keep in mind that you need to do it with the support of a registered dietitian as they are the only professional who will have had the correct training. Without support, you will find this diet very difficult to follow and could cause yourself to have more digestive health problems or nutritional deficiencies. The dietitian will also be able to assess your symptoms and diet to make sure this is the correct approach for you as it is not suitable in all cases so could do more harm than good.
1. Staudacher, H. M., Whelan, K., Irving, P.M. and Lomer, M.C. (2011). Comparison of symptom response following advice for a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAP’s) versus standard dietary advice in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 24(5): pp.487-95. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01162.x [Accessed 10 September 2016].
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About Kirsten Crothers
Kirsten Crothers is a specialist registered dietitian and managing director of her company The Food Treatment Clinic. She has had a range of experience within digestive health, including working with leading consultants in Coeliac disease and completion of the Kings College low FODMAP course. She does not believe in fad diets, but evidence.