The Low-FODMAP Diet: A Way to Manage IBS
A low-FODMAP diet is a 3-step diet developed by Monash University to help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with IBS have ongoing gut symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, wind, diarrhea and constipation.
What Is FOMAP?
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, triggering the digestive symptoms in sensitive people. FODMAPs are found in a wide range of food groups. Stanford suggests the high FODMAP dietary sources to avoid:
1. Starches, Cereals, and Grains: wheat, legumes, rye, beans, lentils, gluten-containing bread, muffins, pastries and pasta
2. Meats: sausages, marinated meats, breaded meats and battered meats
3. Fish: breaded fish and battered fish
4. Dairy Product: milk, yogurt and soft cheese
5. Vegetables: garlic, onions, asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, and scallions
6. Fruits: figs, mangoes, blackberries, lychee, watermelon, prunes, peaches, dates and avocados
7. Nuts: almonds, cashews and pistachios
8. Sweeteners: honey, agave nectar, sugar-free gum
Is Low-FODMAP Diet Suitable For You?
A low-FODMAP diet is not good for everyone. Before you start a low-FODMAP diet plan, you should have been medically diagnosed with IBS, not other body conditions with similar symptoms such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer. What’s more, IBS symptoms can be triggered by other factors, including high fat, spicy food, caffeine and stress level. Also, most of the recent studies has been conducted in adults only. It is not recommended for children with IBS. If you are considering a low-FODMAP diet for IBS, you should consult your doctor or registered dietician to design your Low-FODMAP diet recipes.
How Does a Low-FOMAP Diet Work?
The purpose of low-FODMAP diet is to identify the FODMAPs causing your IBS symptoms, and which you can well tolerate. By only restricting the food items that trigger the symptoms, you are abler to plan a less restrictive and more nutritious diet.
Stage 1: Restriction (2 to 6 weeks)
In the first stage, you should strictly avoid all high-FODMAP food sources and replace them with low-FODMAP alternatives. If there is an improvement in symptoms after 2 to 6 weeks, it is time to move onto the stage 2. If the symptoms remain, it is an indicator that your IBS symptoms are not sensitive to FODMAPs. Other therapies should be considered.
Stage 2: Reintroduction (over 8 to 12 weeks)
In stage 2, you should continue the low-FODMAP diet and meanwhile reintroduce the high-FODMAP food items systematically, which helps identify the types and amount of FODMAPs you can tolerate. In which, you are recommended to test a food item rich in only 1 FODMAP group daily for 3 days. You should increase serving size each day and monitor your tolerance.
Stage 3: Personalization
In the last stage, you are now able to know what you can tolerate and what you cannot. In the long-term, you can establish a ‘personalised FODMAP diet’ by restricting poorly tolerated food and expanding the variety of well-tolerated food. You are also recommended to repeat the challenges of poorly tolerated food over time to see if your tolerance changes.
Possible Adverse Effects of Low-FODMAP Diets
FODMAPs play an important role in maintaining your health. For example, most FODMAPs are prebiotics, supporting the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Besides, since there is a wide range of food sources to avoid, you might get insufficient nutrients. Unless you have been diagnosed with IBS and supervised by your doctor, studies suggest that low-FODMAP diets could do more harm than good.
If you want, Eatology can offer free nutrition consultation for help you choose the right low FODMAP plan.