The low FODMAP diet is a dietary strategy used for lowering symptoms of different gastrointestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
What does FODMAP mean?
The FODMAP is an acronym which stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.
Fermentable – some carbohydrates that cannot be digested will stay in your gut and are broken down by microbiota (bacteria in your gut). While this process occurs, water pulls up into your intestine and the gases are produced which may cause discomfort, such as bloating, diarrhoea, and distention.
Those carbohydrates include:
Oligosaccharides – sugars, such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructans which are found in foods like wheat, rye, onion, garlic, legumes and pulses.
Disaccharides – Double sugars, eg. lactose, are made out of two single sugars. Lactose is found in dairy products like milk, soft cheese and yoghurt.
Monosaccharides – single sugars such as fructose and glucose. Malabsorption of fructose may occur while eating food containing a high amount of fructose and a low amount of glucose, such as honey, apples and high-fructose corn syrups.
Polyols – a group of sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and mannitol. You can find them in artificial sweeteners and in some fruits and vegetables.
What is a low FODMAP diet?
A low FODMAP diet is based on eliminating food products containing high amounts of Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols, which are responsible for the problematic gastrointestinal symptoms such as those occurring in IBS.
What can you eat on a low FODMAP diet?
Even though there are many products you need to avoid while being on a low FODMAP diet, there are still plenty of options to create yummy and healthy dishes. Sometimes the amount matters. Some products can be eaten in specific doses and do not cause troubles, even though they contain fermentable sugars.
Safe food on the FODMAP diet:
- Vegetables: bean sprouts, bok choy, bell peppers, carrots, chives, fresh herbs, kale, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, potatoes, olives, green beans, eggplant
- Fruits: oranges, grapes, melon, lemon, lime, kiwi, coconut, papaya
- Protein: meats, fish, chicken, eggs, tofu
- Dairy: lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese
- Breads and cereals: gluten-free bread and sourdough spelt bread, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, quinoa
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Beverage options: water, coffee, tea
The Monash University Research team was first to develop and test the low FODMAP diet. You can find some additional information on their website and also in the app they created. The app helps you to find the right products, which may be very helpful, especially at the beginning of your journey with the low FODMAP diet when you are not sure which food is safe for your gut.
Is it working?
The results of a Clinical Trial carried out by Monash University in 2013 proved that the low FODMAP diet reduced symptoms by 20 % when compared to a Western diet with people suffering from IBS. You can learn more about that study here.
You can also learn more about the IBS and low FODMAP diet by watching this very interesting lecture by Peter Gibson, Head of Gastroenterology at Monash University.
At Nutripanda, we take time to understand the components of your current diet, eating patterns and lifestyle. This helps us identify important dietary elements that may be missing and possible behavioural and emotional triggers for IBS. We then combine dietary planning with education and self-monitoring approaches to help alleviate your symptoms and empower you to better manage your own gut functionality.