You may have heard the word FODMAP thrown around a few times, but maybe you still don’t know quite what it means. FODMAP is an acronym which describes a certain group of foods which can be aggravating for IBS symptoms, and other gastrointestinal disorders and imbalances.
FODMAPS stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols.
These are all particular types of carbohydrates which can trigger some of the symptoms of IBS, such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort and change bowel movements.
They do this by altering the contractions of the intestine, changing the water concentrations within the intestine, and influencing gas production, all through interaction with the microbes in the intestinal tract (1).
The idea behind the FODMAP’s dietary protocol is to remove these particular carbohydrates from the diet for a certain period of time. During that hiatus period, the goal is to reset the ecosystem within the gastrointestinal system to deal with the root cause for why someone is reacting to FODMAP’s in the first place.
Usually, some sort of triggering event such as food poisoning, or long term exposure to sugary foods, processed foods, environmental toxicity and stress can shift the balance of the micro-organisms in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to IBS symptoms.
Removing FODMAP’s simply helps reduce IBS symptoms, as well as cutting off fuel sources for the imbalanced microorganisms that keep supporting them in the GI tract. Once they are starved of energy, and hit with a few other nutritional therapy approaches, they can be brought back into balance helping to reduce IBS symptoms longer term.
The confusing thing about FODMAP’s is that they can be found in all sorts of healthy, natural foods, which are rich in nutrients, fibre and antioxidants - so you wouldn't be alone if you were confused as to why to limit them.
Sometimes even ‘healthy’ foods have to be eliminated temporarily in order to regain biological equilibrium. That’s the goal of nutritional therapy - to use specific, targeted approaches to addressing illness and imbalance using nutrition (adding in, taking away various foods, ingredients and food groups).
A low FODMAP diet is effective for helping some people overcome chronic digestive issues, but not everyone. It all depends on the underlying gastrointestinal imbalance that exists in each individual. For example, patients who respond well to a low FODMAP diet have a distinct gut microbiome profile from those that don’t (2).
Other individuals with IBS may have a Candida overgrowth, or some other form of pathogen that is impacting their digestive function (3). These would require other nutritional therapy approaches to deal with.
But for most people, the low FODAMP diet is a good starting point, and more often than not provides a certain degree of relief from symptoms, and starts to help point people in the right direction.
In numerous randomised controlled trials, patients who had IBS who followed a low FODMAP diet for 4-6 weeks saw a clinical improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms as well as in their quality of life (1).
Following any sort of diet, whether it be low FODMAP or not can be tricky if you have a busy life. Who doesn’t these days? Following low FODMAP doesn’t have to be hard though, and can still be an enjoyable, diverse and fulfilling diet to follow, with endless possibilities for tasty meals.
We can make it extra easy for you to follow a low FODMAP diet, as we have partnered with one of the best specialised meal prep providers for low FODMAP in the country, Field Doctor. They will be live on our platform via the app very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Also, here’s an extensive list of low and high FODMAP foods so you can craft some of your own meals.
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