What are FODMAPs and what is the diet about?
FODMAPs are a large group of dietary sugars found in many common foods we eat such as specific dairy products, wheat and other grains, and fruits and vegetables. The Low FODMAP diet is proven to prodive relief of IBS symptoms to up to 75% of IBS sufferers. IBS is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder; characterized by chronic and relapsing symptoms; lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, gas, distention and altered bowel habit (ranging from diarrhea to constipation). The diet requires substantial dietary changes, first eliminating foods and later reintroducing in order to determine triggers of symptoms.
What does FODMAP mean?
FODMAP is an acronym for ; Fermentable Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)) Disaccharides (eg. Lactose) Monosaccharides (eg. excess Fructose) And Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt)
How is IBS diagnosed?
There is no diagnostic test for IBS. Diagnosis is made on symptoms. It is therefore important to work with medical professionals to exclude other serious GI conditions (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease and bowel cancer) and also some gynaecological conditions.
What are the stages of the Low FODMAP diet?
Broadly speaking there are two phases of the Low FODMAP diet; (1) The Elimination Phase and (2) The Reintroduction Phase. More information can be found on the phases of the diet here.
Will I need to follow the Low FODMAP diet forever?
The low FODMAP diet is NOT a forever diet. It was designed as an experiential diet to determine one’s tolerance to short-chain carbohydrates. The research is clear that following the diet for more than 4-6 weeks can have negatively impact the gut micro-flora. Some FODMAPs have a prebiotic effect (beneficial food source for our gut microflora), so a strict low FODMAP diet should NOT be followed for the long-term. The goal is to create the most varied, liberalized diet as possible without provoking symptoms. This is accomplished by implementing the diet as it was fully intended by incorporating the challenge phase of the low FODMAP diet.
If the Low FODMAP diet a cure?
Whilst the Low FODMAP diet has been shown to reduce symptoms in up to 75% of IBS sufferers, it unfortunately is not a cure for IBS. You can reasonably expect to gain good symptom control with the diet and longer term there may be foods that you find your can tolerate that you were not able to previously.
Is everybody affected by FODMAPs?
While FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in all people, those with specific gut disorders such as IBS are thought to experience the uncomfortable symptoms due to the gut being unusually sensitive. Distension or ‘stretch’ in the large intestine from gas or water can trigger symptoms.
Where is a good source for Low FODMAP recipes?
You can find a range of recipes on this site. We also recommend visiting the Monash website for recipes and information on the Low FODMAP diet.
I am confused by different food lists on the internet.
This is a common problem due to two factors; (1) the Low FODMAP diet is continually evolving as Monash test and retest foods , (2) there is a great deal of information on the internet that is either not created nor verified by a qualified Low FODMAP dietitian. Always seek information that is written or approved by a Low FODMAP dietitian for your safety and piece of mind.
Is coffee or tea allowed on the Low FODMAP diet?
Black tea, white tea and various herbal teas are usually well tolerated when made weak. it is suggested to eliminate chamomile tea, oolong tea and fennel tea. As for coffee, (regular or decaf), black and espresso are tolerated with lactose free milk or soy milk. Coffee is a gut irritant and should be avoided in larger quantities for greater symptom control.
The Low FODMAP diet has helped improve my symptoms and I often eat gluten free products. Does this mean I may have a gluten sensitivity?
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor so they can rule out coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is a common digestive condition where the gut has an adverse reaction to gluten. Recent studies have shown (see here) that a gluten sensitivity or intolerance may actually be because the person may be also be consuming many foods with low FODMAPs and are inadvertently on a low FODMAP diet. It is likely the improvements are due to the low FODMAP diet and the fact that gluten is often found in high FODMAP foods.