IBS and FODMAPs – what you need to know

By easyFood

14 August 2018

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are found in the foods we eat. FODMAPs is an acronym referring to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are complex names for a collection of molecules found in certain foods, which can be poorly absorbed by some people.

A diet low in FODMAPs is now used internationally as the most effective dietary therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). A low-FODMAP diet has also been shown to reduce symptoms of fatigue, lethargy and poor concentration.

How do FODMAPs trigger symptoms of IBS?

  • When consumed in foods and/or drinks, FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and pass through to the large intestine, where two major events happen:
  • The FODMAPs are readily fermented by bacteria in the large bowel, contributing to the production of gas.
  • The FODMAPs are also highly osmotic, meaning that they attract water into the large bowel, which can alter how quickly the bowels move.
  • These two processes can then trigger symptoms of IBS including excess wind, abdominal bloating and distension, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea, or a combination of both.

What foods are suitable?

You can find a complete list of low-FODMAP foods online

The diet was developed and is undergoing further research at Monarsh University in Australia, and the University has launched an app providing accurate information about low-FODMAP foods. Find more details at this website

How does a low-FODMAP diet work?

Under the supervision of a dietitian, high FODMAP foods are eliminated from the diet for 6-8 weeks and replaced with suitable alternatives. After this, small amounts of FODMAP foods are gradually re-introduced to find a level of tolerance without the symptoms returning. It is not designed to be a ‘diet for life’ as many high-FODMAP foods are important for stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 

Please note

  1. It is important that you consult your GP if you suspect you are suffering from IBS and/or before embarking on any new dietary plan
  2. It’s important to remember that foods containing FODMAPs aren’t “bad,” and in fact many of them are very healthy. People who aren’t FODMAP intolerant should not embark on a low-FODMAP diet, as it will have no benefits and may in fact be detrimental to your health.
  3. However, if you are having ongoing digestive issues, talk to your GP or a nutritionist about a low-FODMAP diet. While it may not eliminate all digestive problems, it can lead to significant improvements.

For some low-FODMAP kitchen essentials, click here.