Do you suffer from digestive issues after eating certain foods? Bloating, gas, cramps, constipation or diarrhoea? The link between foods and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is well recognised and there is a good chance that FODMAPs - small carbohydrates in certain foods - could be to blame.
FODMAPs are a large group of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are found in all sorts of foods and drinks. These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria to produce gas. For some people, a diet high in FODMAPs can cause a range of abdominal symptoms such as bloating, excess wind, distension, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea (or a combination of both). Following a low FODMAP diet can help manage these abdominal symptoms - 75% of people with IBS experience relief from their symptoms with a low FODMAP diet.
If you don't suffer from IBS there's no reason to follow a low FODMAP diet. The low FODMAP diet isn't designed for weight loss and is not something to follow strictly for life - reintroductions are important as FODMAPs contain important prebiotics.
Elimination, reintroduction, personalistion
We all have different tolerances to different combinations of FODMAPs so there isn't a ‘one size fits all low FODMAP diet'. Instead the best approach is to follow a three-stage plan: elimination, reintroduction and personalisation. During the elimination phase all FODMAP foods are eliminated for two to six weeks to see if abdominal symptoms are reduced. However eliminating all FODMAPs from your diet is difficult and very restrictive, so it's not practical to maintain it long term unless you really have to. For this reason, it's important to identify which FODMAP is responsible - which brings us to the ‘reintroduction phase.'
During the reintroduction phase we try each of the FODMAP groups on their own in isolation to work out which FODMAP groups you are sensitive to and which groups you're not sensitive to. Once we know which FODMAP group has been causing the symptoms we can work out which foods you can reintroduce. The goal of the personalisation phase is to keep your IBS symptoms as manageable as possible, while allowing your food choices to be as varied as possible
Going low FODMAP
When you initially cut FODMAPS out of your diet you will need to avoid a large range of foods including wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic, milk, yogurt, apples, pears, stone fruits and even cauliflower. You'll need to be armed with an app like the Monash Uni FODMAP app. Luckily there's now a FODMAP Friendly logo - these products have been scientifically proven to be low-FODMAP.
If you'd like help implementing a low FODMAP diet I can help you. Find out more about my services here.
If you're an athlete looking to manage a sensitive gut during training, read this.
If you're interested in gut health, head here.