You’ve probably heard of the low FODMAP diet.
Perhaps you’ve heard it’s beneficial for your “gut health” or maybe it’s been suggested for your digestive issues. But what actually is the low FODMAP diet, and should everyone be doing it?
Lets start with the acronym: F.O.D.M.A.P
F – Fermentable
O – Oligosaccharides
D – Disaccharides
M – Monosaccharide
A – And
P – Polyols
Ok – that didn’t explain much. What are these words and what do they mean?!
FODMAPs are types of short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) naturally found in many foods. FODMAPs can cause negative digestive symptoms in people with IBS. OK, so what exactly is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive syndrome that affects about 1 in 7 adults. Symptoms often include stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation. IBS is often diagnosed when other gut conditions are ruled out by a physician.
FODMAPs attract water to our intestines and are fermented by our gut bacteria. This results in excess water and gas in our intestines, which causes them to expand. For those without IBS, this expansion is often not noticeable. However, those with IBS tend to have more sensitive guts, so this can lead to pain and discomfort.
So… should everyone with negative gut symptoms just simply avoid FODMAP foods?
Not quite. The low FODMAP diet is a temporary diet, only intended for those who have been diagnosed with IBS by a medical doctor. Why is this? Because many gut conditions have similar symptoms to IBS (celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and even bowel cancer) and may not benefit from the diet. This is why getting a diagnosis first is essential.
The low FODMAP diet consists of 3 phases, and takes around 10-18+ weeks to complete. The diet is used to identify trigger foods that are causing IBS symptoms. Once trigger foods are found, other FODMAP groups that don’t cause symptoms can be added back to promote the least restrictive diet possible, while managing gut symptoms.
Wondering if the low FODMAP diet is right for you? Talk to your physician about your digestive symptoms. If you are diagnosed with IBS, contact your local dietitian who can help guide you through the low FODMAP diet in a healthy way!