FODMAP and IBS
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates found in a variety of foods, including some dairy products (lactose), certain fruits and vegetables, grains such as wheat and rye (fructans), beans, some soy products, and certain sweeteners such as honey, agave, and sugar alcohols (polyols).
Some individuals have more difficulty than others digesting and absorbing some or all of these fermentable carbohydrates. They simply don't get broken down and absorbed in the small intestine. Instead they pass through to the large intestine, where they draw water into the gut, like a sponge and start to ferment. This fermentation process can cause the gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, pain, flatulence and constipation. Twelve years ago, researchers at Monash University in Australia identified the carbohydrates as sources of digestive discomfort for many people. Now doctors are finding that a low FODMAP diet is effective in providing relief from these GI symptoms in approximately 3 out of 4 people. The low FODMAP diet helps you identify your trigger foods. It's a "learning diet", not one you stay on 100% indefinitely.
Trying a low-FODMAP diet is a short-term intervention to determine which specific foods and amounts of those foods, trigger symptoms.
Should you try a gluten-free, low FODMAP diet?
Have you been diagnosed with IBS? Have you tried going on a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or a gluten-sensitivity, but are still having GI issues such as abdominal pain and bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea?
If so, you can determine whether your GI issues are related to dietary FODMAPs by trying a 2-3 week low FODMAP diet during which you completely restrict your FODMAP consumption. After two to three weeks, you then systematically and gradually re-introduce FODMAP foods one at a time and record in a food journal whether you experience any GI symptoms or not. In this manner, you can determine what, if any, foods are problematic for you and in what quantities. This is not a diet you stay on indefinitely. The fermentation that is painful to approximately 10 percent of the population is good for your gut because it stimulates growth of the kind of bacteria that is actually good for your digestive health. You may use this diet to reduce symptoms, but not as a way of improving health. There may be foods that are healthy, but that you can't process well. Everyone is different.
If you decide to try a low FODMAP diet, it is helpful to plan your meals and snacks out ahead of time. The GFP Menu Planner (available for FREE for registered users) makes it easy to plan out healthy gluten-free, low FODMAP menus. The GFP recipes, meal/snacks and product directory will help you identify FODMAP containing ingredients and easily make substitutions. The GFP Low FODMAP Diet is designed not only to help determine what foods you can eat, but also in what quantities.
The GFP Low FODMAP Diet is FREE when you register on GFP.
If you are already a registered user at GFP, simply click here to get started.
More FODMAP Info
NOTE: The low FODMAP diet is still being researched extensively and the list of foods high in FODMAPs continues to change. Although we do our best to stay current, the information on GFP may or may not be completely up to date. We encourage you to check with a local registered dietitian experienced with the low FODMAP diet for individual assistance.
Murray PhD, Wilkinson-Smith BMedSci, Hoad PhD, et al: Different Effects of FODMAPs on Small and Large Intestinal Contents in Healthy Subjects Shown by MRI. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2014; 109(1): 110-119
de Roest RH, Dobbs BR, Chapman BA et al. The low FODMAP diet improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective study. Int J Clin Pract 2013; 67:895-905