Unlike a lot of other diets, the FODMAP diet isn’t intended for long-term use—it’s a type of elimination diet to try to figure out what may be causing stomach issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The acronym, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, basically relates to the types of sugars that your small intestine can have a hard time digesting. When that happens, people might experience GI distress, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Research has found a low-FODMAP diet reduced symptoms of IBS and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in up to 86 percent of people. It’s designed to determine what foods trigger GI symptoms, and create an eating plan to reduce or eliminate those symptoms.
So, what foods can you eat and which should you avoid, on a low-FODMAP diet? We spoke to medical nutritionist, Dr Sarah Brewer below, to find out.
What does FODMAP mean and what does the FODMAP diet do?
FODMAP was created and developed by Monash University researchers in Australia. The Low FODMAP Diet limits foods that are high in a group of fermentable carbohydrates known as FODMAPs which can trigger symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) including bloating, gas and pain.
The full acronym stands for fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Everything apart from the polyols are types of sugar – the ones that are broken down by bacteria in the bowel, which can cause some of the symptoms. And then polyols are things like artificial sweeteners that are added to quite a few foods now in order to reduce the amount of sugar that we eat.
Are there specific tests or guidelines regarding who should or shouldn’t follow thisdiet?
Anyone who has IBS symptoms can try it. But I would recommend seeing a FODMAP accredited dietitian ensure you’re getting the right advice and plan for your needs.
How can low FODMAP meals help alleviate the symptoms of IBS?
A low FODMAP diet has been shown to reduce pain and discomfort, reduce bloating and distension, improve bowel habits (reduce diarrhea or constipation) and improve the overall quality of life.
Basically eating foods that have low fermentable sugars that are broken down the gut limits production of gas and unhealthy bacteria and chemicals which can trigger symptoms.
What are common sources of FODMAPs?
Common foods high in FODMAP include but aren’t limited to, cows milk, apples, avocado, raisins, beans, asparagus, cashews, pistachios, sweeteners, tea and rum.Surprisingly, alcohol is relatively low in FODMAP. But there’ll be certain lists that your dietitian will give you outlining which foods you should avoid and which are gut-friendly.
What is one of your favourite FODMAP friendly recipes?
Anything high in protein – I love good scrambled eggs with bacon!
How can the low-FODMAP diet be followed when eating out, and what tips do you have for IBS sufferers who eat out a lot?
I recommend going to the restaurant’s website beforehand, looking at their menu, and working out what you’re going to order before you go. Also order first, so you’re not being persuaded to try something that somebody else has ordered.
Is it more difficult being vegan on a low FODMAP diet?
It would be more difficult to eat a FODMAP diet as a vegan. I recommend getting advice from adietitian to ensure you still consume a balanced diet.
Can you eat low FODMAP when you’re pregnant
Yes, as long as you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals and protein. I would also recommend getting advice from your GP on the right plan to follow.
Are there any over the counter treatments that are FODMAP approved and can help alleviate IBS symptoms?
Yes, SilicolGel, just became Monash University Low FODMAP Certified. SilicolGel acts like aprotective layer lining over the gut as it goes down and it soothes. Once in the gut it acts like amagnet that absorbs some of the toxins and the gases that are causing or can cause symptoms of IBS. It wraps them up like bubble wrap and then helps the body to naturally dispose of them.