The Low-FODMAP Diet & IBS. Everyone’s digestive system is slightly different. Unfortunately, some people’s digestive system causes them to get irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The NHS says that IBS is a common condition that affects a person’s digestive system.
It causes things such as stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These symptoms are not mutually exclusive of each other, however. The symptoms can come and go and last from hours up to weeks at a time.
IBS is usually a lifelong problem and when symptoms do show up, can cause a lot of frustration. There is no known cause of IBS, but it is thought that food passing through your gut too fast/slow can be a factor as well as your body’s genetic makeup. There is no known cure for IBS, but diets and medicines can help relieve symptoms. The diet we are going to be looking at today is the Low FODMAP diet.
What are FODMAP’s?
Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols are what the name stands for. Healthline says they are short-chained carbohydrates that are absorbed poorly in the small intestine. They are then prone to absorb more water and then they will ferment in your colon.
In simpler terms, they are carbs that ferment your gut with people who are most likely to have IBS. Unfortunately, FODMAP’s are found in a wide range of foods. This then leads to people following a Low-FODMAP diet.
Who Should Follow a Low-FODMAP Diet?
This diet is only recommended for people who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Even so, it is only recommended for the following people:
- People who have ongoing gut symptoms
- You who have not responded to stress-management strategies
- People who have not responded well to dietary advice
This diet is not for everyone. Unless you have been diagnosed with IBS, research suggests the diet could do more harm than good.
This is because most FODMAPs are prebiotics, meaning they support the growth of good gut bacteria.
Even if you fit the criteria listed above, it is important that you shouldn’t follow the diet when travelling or during stress. It is quite an intense diet with a lot of planning, and when travelling or stressed, there are a lot of unplanned scenarios that may occur.
3 Stage FODMAP Diet
As mentioned above, it’s not advised to follow the Low-FODMAP diet when travelling or stressed. This is because it is a complicated diet and involves a lot of application and dedication.
The Low-FODMAP diet is split into three steps.
Step 1 – Restriction
The first step in the Low-FODMAP diet is strictly avoiding all foods high in FODMAP, there are a lot of foods that you should avoid – but we have a table below showing the most common foods high in FODMAP.
You should only follow this stage for three weeks up to a maximum of eight weeks. This is because FODMAP’s are important to your diet as they support gut health. The way you can tell when to move onto the next stage is when your digestive system has adequate relief of the symptoms. For some people, this can be three weeks, but for others, it can be as long as eight.
Step 2 – Reintroduction
Now, I know what you are thinking – why would I introduce FODMAP back into my diet? Well, as mentioned before, FODMAP’s are important for gut health so the purpose of this step is to see what foods high in FODMAP you can tolerate.
The School of Life has a good app that helps you identify which foods you can introduce. Although it is recommended that you do this with a trained dietician.
Even once you have identified high FODMAP foods which you can tolerate, you must continue to restrict the high foods to a minimum.
Step 3- Personalisation
This is where you modify the diet to suit your individual needs. This final step is important because you are now beginning to bring high-FODMAP foods back into your diet. You will know from stage two which foods you can tolerate. A study shows a high FODMAP diet with flexibility is linked with the improved long-term quality of life and gut health.