The low FODMAP diet is a relatively new approach for the management of symptoms experienced in IBS and other functional bowel disorders. FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. These are groups of short chain carbohydrates that can be rapidly fermented in the colon to produce symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, wind and gurgling. They also have an osmotic effect that draws water into the colon in the same way that some laxatives do, resulting in diarrhoea. The research that has been published on the diet shows that it has an approximately 75% success rate in helping patients to achieve satisfactory relief of their symptoms.
However it is a complex diet to follow and involves cutting out a large range of foods in the initial stages of the diet (lasting 2-6 weeks) before reintroducing them to assess tolerance and symptom triggers. This should allow the diet to be broadened and include foods which had been cut out but are actually well tolerated. Continuing the full low FODMAP diet for extended periods is not recommended as it could lead to a decrease in the levels of good bacteria in the colon and possibly nutritional deficiencies if appropriate substitutions are not made for foods that have been cut out. So it’s really important to get advice from a trained dietitian on both the diet and the structured re-introduction phase.
The diet has only ever been evaluated as a dietitian delivered program as it requires specialist assessment, individualised advice and a lot of patient support to follow it correctly and achieve the best results. So if you are interested in trying the diet ask your GP or consultant to refer you to a dietitian with experience in the low FODMAP diet to ensure you get the best advice and help that you’ll need.
Please note that the low FODMAP diet is specifically for managing IBS-type symptoms and is not a diet for improving general health. A lot of the foods that are restricted on the low FODMAP diet are actually very healthy and should only be avoided if they trigger symptoms.
For further information on IBS and FODMAPs –
Freelance Dietitians to find a dietitian near you
R and M Dietetics An excellent FODMAP blog and resources
This website/blog is not intended as a guide to the low FODMAP diet and anyone considering trying the diet should speak to a registered dietitian with expertise in FODMAPs first. Appropriate medical advice should be sought to ensure there are no other underlying medical conditions causing your symptoms and that the correct diagnosis is made. The information contained in this blog is aimed at patients who have already been advised on the diet by their dietitian and are looking for healthy meal ideas and inspiration.