What are FODMAPs?
Put simply, FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that are not properly absorbed in the gut. When FODMAPs reach the small intestine, they move slowly and attract water. When they enter the the large intestine, FODMAPs are fermented by gut bacteria, causing gas to form. The extra gas and water cause the intestinal wall to stretch and expand. Because people with irritable bowel syndrome have highly sensitive bowels, the stretching of the bowel wall causes excessive pain and discomfort. FODMAPs occur naturally in many foods and food additives.
What happens when you consume FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods, and most people eat foods high in FODMAP on a daily basis without experiencing any problems. When FODMAPs are eaten, the gut bacteria use the FODMAPs as a source of fuel in order to survive. The bacteria rapidly ferment the FODMAPs, producing gas in the process.
These processes occur in all people (with and without irritable stomach / irritable bowel). The difference is that people with irritable bowel syndrome may have problems with motility (the speed at which the contents move through the bowel) and / or a highly sensitive bowel wall. The extra water and gas in the intestines causes the intestinal wall to expand, causing the usual symptoms such as pain, bloated stomach, bloating, nausea, gas, and digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, or both).
What are FODMAPs in?
As mentioned earlier, FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods, such as garlic, onions, fruits, vegetables, bread, cereals, nuts, legumes, and confectionery. It is impossible to guess the FODMAP content of a product. Instead, a careful laboratory analysis is required to understand the FODMAP content of foods. The Monash University team is an expert in such analysis. The information about the FODMAP content of foods is published through their app, the Monash University FODMAP Diet App. The app uses a simple traffic light rating system to indicate whether a food is low, medium or high FODMAP and in what amount it is safe to eat.
Who Should Be On the FODMAP Diet?
An FODMAP diet is intended for those with medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. If a doctor hasn't diagnosed your gastrointestinal symptoms, you shouldn't follow this diet. There are many medical conditions with symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome, such as: B. Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, and colon cancer. You shouldn't diagnose yourself with irritable bowel syndrome. Instead, see a doctor who will assess your symptoms, perform any tests necessary to rule out other conditions, and give you a clear diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome before starting this diet.
Benefits of a Low FODMAP Diet
Monash University researchers developed the concept of FODMAPs and demonstrated the effectiveness of a low-FODMAP diet. Monash research shows that three out of four people who have a low-FODMAP diet greatly improve symptoms. Other research groups from around the world have since shown similar results. For this reason, a low-FODMAP diet is now considered the preferred treatment for people diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
A low-FODMAP diet has been shown to:
- Reduce pain, cramps and discomfort
- Reduce bloating and gas
- improve digestion (less diarrhea or constipation)
- improve the quality of life
These benefits usually show up within 2-6 weeks of starting the low FODMAP diet.
Of course, the diet does not cure irritable bowel syndrome, it only helps those affected to live better with their condition.
A low FODMAP diet will not improve symptoms for EVERYONE either. In fact, one in four people find that dieting does not improve their symptoms. These people may need other nutritional therapies in addition to or as a substitute for a low FODMAP diet. Other therapies you can consider include stress reduction, bowel-oriented hypnotherapy, over-the-counter / prescription drugs (e.g. laxatives), or fiber supplements. Talk to your doctor about what other therapies you can try.